Cher Public

Blut force

goltzThis week I get to fulfill a promise made some time ago to fans of Elektra, both of my generation and the younger Parterriani: the very first Vienna post-war performance of the opera.  The one-time-only cast for the opening of the new production in the first season in the restored Haus auf dem Ring on 8 April 1956 featured three dynamos: Christel Goltz, Margarete Klose, and Hilde Zadek.  On the podium was Karl Böhm

Given the recent practice of toning down the opera in the aftermath of the years in which it was dominated by Birgit Nilsson, Regina Resnik, and Leonie Rysanek, this performance represents a good old-fashioned blood-and-guts interpretation.

Goltz, who died in 2008 at age 96, sang dozens of performances with the company between 1944 and 1970, with her feature roles being Elektra, Salome, and die Färberin in Die Frau ohne Schatten (the later two of which she recorded for Decca). With only six performances of Salome at the Met in the 1954/1955 season and a handful of recordings, her blazing dramatic soprano remains relatively unknown in the 21st century.

Klose (1899-1968) was ending her stage career at the time of this performance, and sang only the premiere of this production (her frequent replacement through 1963 was Elisabeth Höngen), which turned out to be her farewell to the company with which she had debuted as Klytämnestra in March 1941.

She retired in 1961 and concentrated on teaching at the Salzburg Mozarteum until her sudden death.  Today she is most remembered for her Fricka on the 1954 Wilhelm Fürtwängler recording of Die Walküre for EMI (which is where I discovered her, along with Leonie).

Zadek, who turned 99 in December, was another Wiener Staatsoper company mainstay from 1947 through her retirement in 1971, with eight performances at the Met in four different operas over six weeks in 1952/1953 (Donna Anna, Eva, Elsa, and Aida!).

Somewhat ironically, the two biggest stars in the cast take lesser roles: Max Lorenz as Aegisth and Christa Ludwig and as the Third Maid.

If you are a true Elektra fan and haven’t heard this (at least for a couple of years), or are a newcomer to the opera, I suggest you find 97 minutes without interruptions to fully appreciate Strauss at his most demented.

  • Leosweill

    Thanks once again !!

    Have a q related to live recordings: has anyone ever bought off of OperaPassion? They have a couple things I want (a Mattila Ariadne, the Levine/Polaski 1997 Bayreuth ring) but their website seems sketchy and I’m afraid to give them a credit card number without some verification … thanks!

    • Bill

      I saw Goltz do her Met debut Salome and she had
      quite a success -- she was following Welitsch (no easy
      task who had been a previous Salome some seasons earlier. Goltz had trained as a dancer so was very effective dancing. Her voice was powerful and quite beautiful but not always 100 percent steady and she was considered to be a very “intellectual” singer as she also sang modern works. Boehm brought her to Vienna from Dresden and after her career as a dramatic soprano was over she sang roles such as Clairon and such with distinction. Because she took a well deserved solo bow (then banned by Bing) at the end of Salome at the Met, Bing never invited her back
      She sang Elektra 57 times in Vienna up until 1963

      Zadek sang Donna Anna in my first ever Don Giovanni
      at the Met -- strong voiced. She had a vast repertoire
      (but sang only 2 Salomes in Vienna) and had only one
      season at the Met though not without success. She became a well known voice teacher for decades in Vienna
      and is still alive. She sang Chrysothemis 40 times in
      Vienna until 1963

      I never heard Klose but she was a legend by the time
      she retired. Hoengen sang Klytemnestra 50 times
      in Vienna up until 1963

      I have not time to listen to this performance just now
      but surely shall. It must be very much what Vienna fare
      in Elektra was like during the time period.

      In December of 1965 Boehm conducted a new
      production of Elektra in Vienna in a Wieland
      Wagner production and I was there -- the first time
      Nilsson and Rysanek sang their respective roles
      together with Resnik, Waechter, Windgassen and in small roles Janowitz as 4th maid, and another Elektra,
      Danica Mastilovic as Aufseherin. It was one of the grandest and greatest evenings of opera I have ever seen and there was applause for some 48 minutes after the opera finished at this premiere.

      .

      • southerndoc1

        Was it just coincidence that all three left Vienna in 1963, or did someone come in and purge a bunch of singers from a previous administration?

        Always enjoy your posts.

        • Are you on the right page? If you read my text, you’ll see that Goltz sang with Wiener Staatsoper through 1970; Klose sang through 1961 although this performance marks her farewell to Wiener Staarsoper in the role of her company debut 15 years earlier; Zadek sang with the company through 1971 (and is still with us!).

          • Armerjacquino

            southerndoc was replying to bill, who notes that all 3 singers he mentions sang their last Vienna performances *of Elektra* in 1963.

            • southerndoc1

              Yes, my bad. I mistakenly read Bill’s references to their last performances in Elektra as the ends of their Staatsoper careers.

            • For clarity’s sake, Goltz and Zadek sang their last performances in “Elektra” at Wiener Staatsoper in 1963, but their careers in that house went on for a few more years. This performance – this week’s “Montag mit Marianne” post at Mixcloud – is Margarete Klose’s final performance of ANYTHING at Staatsoper. It’s from 1956, 15 years after she made her company debut in the same role. Another singer – not heard on this recording – who did her last Wien “Elektra” performance in 1963 was Elisabeth Höngen, who jumped into the production on its second night after Klose’s farewell.

  • Scania Opus

    I enjoy Goltz here! I usually think that Nilsson’s Elektra is quite monochrome.

  • Leontiny

    Wow wow wow. Thank you. What a treat. With this level of commitment I’m surprised she lasted as long as she did. A real dramatic soprano. I have a number of performances of one of my favourite operas, and this will join them.

  • bertrand simon

    Just a small correction : this performance is actually from 25/4/1953 at the An der Wien and Orest is Paul Schöffler .

    • May I please ask from where you are getting this information? In the decade in which Wiener Staatsoper was rebuilt after being bombed (1945-1955) the company gave performances at Theater an der Wien, Volksoper, and a few other locations.

      These are all indicated on the official company Web site. The performance on 25 April 1953 was “Der Vogelhändler,” although the venue is not specified.

      There was no resident opera company at Theater an der Wien (as there is now, since 2006) until Staatsoper had to find another location. The theater had been used basically as an operetta house, in the style of a Broadway theater.

      The Staatsoper archives are quite clear: there was no “Elektra” given by the company at any location between 16 October 1943 (at the not-yet-bombed House on the Ring, with Gertrude Rünger, Elisabeth Höngen, and Daga Söderqvist under Knappertsbusch) and the performance I’ve posted from April 1957, which was also Goltz’s first Elerktra with the company.

    • May I please ask from where you are getting this information? In the decade in which Wiener Staatsoper was rebuilt after being bombed (1945-1955) the company gave
      performances at Theater an der Wien, Volksoper, and a few other locations. These are all indicated on the official company Web site. The performance on 25 April 1953 was “Der Vogelhändler,” although the venue is not specified.

      There was no resident opera company at Theater an der Wien (as there is now, since 2006) until Staatsoper had to find another location. The theater had been unused basically
      as an operetta house, in the style of a Broadway theater.

      The Staatsoper archives are quite clear: there was no “Elektra” given by the company at any location between 16 October 1943 (at the not-yet-bombed House on the Ring, with Gertrude Rünger, Elisabeth Höngen, and Daga Söderqvist under Knappertsbusch) and the performance I’ve
      posted from April 1956, the first season at the restored Staatsoper, which was also Goltz’s first Elerktra with the company.

      • bertrand simon

        Opera Depot gives this date of performance for their recording . I was puzzled by Hurshell sounding truly like Schöffler but there is no other date possible in that season . Maybe Schöffler had to subsitute Hurshell at so extremely late notice that the archives kept the name on programs but as it was a premiere of new production i doubt about that . As a matter of fact, first i thought the archives were beginning only in 1955 and so was not surprised to find no Elektra in previous years . The mystery remains about Hurshell (i don’t know his voice) and Schöffler (i know him very well) .

        • Hurshell sang 145 performances in 20 leading or secondary role with Wiener Staatsoper from September 1955 (the four villains in “Hoffmann” as his debut) through June 1960.

          • bertrand simon

            Yes i know that, just don’t know the sound of him as it seems we have no recordings .

            • Not much to judge from but he is the Roucher in the 1960 Corelli/Tebaldi/Bastianini “Chénier” from Wiener Staatsoper (available on Amazon).

      • Bill

        Actually Elektra was performed by the Wiener
        Staatsoper 29 times at the Theater an der Wien and 2 times in Paris between May 5, 1959 and June 4th 1955 with Goltz and Anny Konetzni sharing the title role, Anday, Hoengen and Klose as Klytemnestra and
        several sings as Chrysothemis Hellwig, Hilde Konetzni, Kupper, Rysanek, Zadek and 1 performance by a certain Renate Soerrensen.
        Aegisth was sung by Max Lorenz, Patzak, Torsten Ralf, Trepkow and Laszlo Szemere and among the Orestes were Hotter and Schoeffler. The 1956 performance was a new production with 53 performances and then was replaced Decemher 16, 1965 with the celebrated Wieland Wagner production under Boehm with Nilsson, Rysanek, Resnik, Waechter, Windgassen, Janowitz etc.

        • Bill

          Sorry between May 5, 1949 (not 1959) and June 4th 1955

        • From where are you getting this information? On the official Wiener Staatsoper archive Web site (https://archiv.wiener-staatsoper.at/) I just read the day-by-day season schedules (83 pages) over the period in which you insist Wiener Staatsoper performed “Elektra” at Theater an der Wien and it is not there! Would you kindly share you source with me?

          • Bill

            Jungfer -- the Archive website of the Wiener
            Staatsoper is missing a lot of data --
            I get this information from the publication of the book “Chronik Der Wiener Staatsoper
            1945-2005 I think there is a supplement also for performances after 2005. You will
            find also on the Wiener Staatsoper Archive
            website that no performances of Don Giovanni from 1946- June 1955 and many other things including Fidelios during that
            period. I have noticed that little by little
            they are slowly adding some performances.

            There is also a Chronic from the beginning of the Wiener Staatsoper until the last
            Goetterdammerung in June of 1944 after
            which the opera house was closed for total war (1944-45 season until May of 1945 when it reopened in the Volksoper building with Figaro (Sena Jurinac’s debut). The Chronic also had a few errors when first printed (such listing
            Roberta Peters for one Papageno in addition to the one Queen of the Night and one Gilda she sang there in 1963 -- a subsequent edition edited her Papageno out.

            As to Elektra -- there were not many years
            (1943-49 for example was an exception) when Elektra was not performed by the Staatsoper at least a couple of times and usually with outstanding casts

  • Sheldon

    Thanks for this! It gave me goosebumps — of pleasure.