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Lisa della Casa 1919-2012

The elegant Swiss-born soprano has died at 93. [Los Angeles Times]

Photo: Sedge LeBlang/Metropolitan Opera


  • deviafan says:

    • Ilka Saro says:

      Deviafan, thanks for this unexpected video!

    • doktorlehar says:

      What an utter treasure this video is. Thank you so much for bringing it to our collective attention.

      For me, della Casa was voice that defined her repertoire, and I can’t add much to the accolades and remembrances posted here except to say thank god we have her recorded.

      I was just in Switzerland three weeks ago. The train line from Zurich to Bern passes right by Burgdorf, where she was born, and I thought of her as we went along. Cute little place.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Back at the old MET, there was a standee named Ruth who used to tell everyone at the front of the line that she was having an actual love affair with Della Casa.

    • Clita del Toro says:

      QPF, I used to stand near the front of the line. Don’t remember Ruth. Poor thing, wishful thinking, I guess. There were all sorts of odd people there every day. I guess I was one of them.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        I won’t say her last name, but yes it was wishful thinking. Had it been true Lisa would have gotten her tickets !

  • Clita del Toro says:

    Question: Where is the NYT obit for Lisa della Casa?? We have already seen those for Gloria Davey and Vishnevskaya.

  • kashania says:

    Lisa Della Casa’s rendition of “Ein schönes war” is pretty much ideal. Such beautiful, touching, and elegant singing.

    • peter says:

      I’ve always been curious about that recording. Does she really not take a breath after that long long phrase? She goes right to the world “war” without a breath. I’ve never heard anyone else do that.

      • kashania says:

        I re-listened just to hear if she takes a breath. I don’t think she does. It’s a 21-second single breath. I haven’t heard anyone do that either. Jessye Norman does a 19-second breath but takes a breath before “war” (but takes it at a slower tempo).

        • Bill says:

          The times I heard della Casa live in
          Vienna and at the Met she did not take
          a breath either. Most singers do take
          a breath, some disguising it and others
          actually gulping. Della Casa was one of
          my all time favorite Ariadnes though her
          very lowest notes were not as markedly
          fine as some other sopranos who had more enviable lower registers.
          But few could glisten on the top notes
          with the glorious effervescence in the way della Casa could.

          Jeritza discussed “Ein Schoenes War”
          and that difficult first phrase once
          in the famous Ariadne Met Broadcast
          together with Lotte Lehmann and Jeritza
          mentioned that Richard Strauss insisted
          that Jeritza not take a breath at that
          point. Jeritza mentioned that the phrase was so long that it went from wherever she may
          have been talking (presumably somewhere in the old Met) to…..Brooklyn.

          • MontyNostry says:

            That discussion between Jeritza and Lehmann is one of the best operatic exchanges I’ve ever heard. The way they combine mutual admiration and competitiveness, all in strong mitteleuropaeisch accents, is priceless. It wasn’t on YouTube last time I looked, sadly.

          • soubrettino says:

          • MontyNostry says:

            Whoopee! Thank you, soubrettino.

    • bassoprofundo says:

      Am I the only one who finds the word “rendition” to be like nails on a chalkboard when used to talk about singers?

      “Her rendition of Caro nome…”

      “What a wonderful rendition of Nemico della patria!”

      I think it’s much more elegant to say “Her ‘Ein schoenes war’ is pretty much ideal.”

    • MontyNostry says:

      It helps that the aria is not being taken at the speed of a dirge to make it more ‘expressive’. And I love the slightly woozy horn. LDC is so much more pleasing and satisfying to listen to than her more frequently recorded and not dissimilar-sounding, but vastly more gekünstelt contemporary …

    • Buster says:

      Thanks Clita! In addition to those four roles, she also sang Saffi at the Met.

      • Krunoslav says:

        Yes, and also Mimi, Cio-Cio-San, Ariadne, Octavian, Eva and Elsa. The article does not say that she sang only 4 roles, only that 4 roles made up the bulk of her Met assignments.

        But in fact she sang more Saffis and Evas than she did Arabellas, so that was strange of the writer to cite that among the 4 main roles. They also got wrong the role of her Vienna debut (Nedda, not Gilda) and the year of her farewell (1973, not 1974). Such are the vagaries…

        • Buster says:

          I see -- thanks! Did she give any song recitals in the States that you happen to know of? The Lieder recordings I have heard of her are all outstanding (Salzburg recital, Strauss songs with piano, both with Arpad Sandor, Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -Leben with Sebastian Peschko).

  • Chirper says:

    Didn’t her daughter die a number of years ago? I seem to remember reading an Opera News interview a while back that referred to her daughter’s passing.

    • Marcello says:

      There’s an interview with her daughter in the bio which appeared in 2008 and she is also in the TV documentation which was probably made for her 80th birthday.

      Lisa della Casa also sang Annina in Rosenkavalier at the beginning of her career, so that makes 4 roles in this opera.

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    The NY TIMES has not corrected the multiple mistakes in the Della Casa obit. Typical.