Cher Public

Growing up Grimgerde

Happy 88th birthday mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias

On this day in 1797 Luigi Cherubini’s Medée premiered in Paris.

Born on this day in 1860 composer Hugo Wolf.

Born on this day in 1890 conductor Fritz Busch.

Born on this day in 1897 soprano Maria Németh.

Born on this day in 1925 soprano Jennifer Vyvyan.

Born on this day in 1929 mezzo-soprano Jane Rhodes.

Happy 82nd birthday baritone William B Murray.

Happy 72nd birthday soprano Julia Migenes.

Happy 65th birthday composer Wolfgang Rihm.

  • QuantoPainyFakor
    • According to Wikipedia:

      “‘Amor, vida de mi vida’ (‘Love, life of my life’) is an aria for tenor from the zarzuela Maravilla composed by Federico Moreno Torroba to a libretto by Antonio Quintero and Jesús María de Arozamena. It premiered in Madrid in 1941, where the aria was sung by the tenor, Luis Sagi-Vela. It is one of the most famous arias in the Spanish language and was included in the repertoire of The Three Tenors (sung by Plácido Domingo).”


  • Opera Teen

    Disappointed that this wasn’t the clip used to celebrate the birthday of Julia Migenes Johnson (my first Carmen on one of my first recordings of anything, a Christmas gift from my grandmother).

    • Armerjacquino

      This is… it’s… I don’t know what this is.

      Eartha Kitt meets Patti LuPone meets Every Drag Queen Ever.

  • manou
    • Cicciabella

      Even more controversially: “But all the Italian operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi: Is that really art?” At 89, Ludwig can say whatever she thinks. Great find, manou!

      • DonCarloFanatic

        I hope people don’t take her words too seriously as pointed against any one person, considering she’s annihilated the entire Italian oeuvre!

        • Armerjacquino

          I seem to remember Mrs JC at some point implying that Ludwig was… not very nice. (Those were not the exact words).

          • PCally

            I have to say that Her book is incredibly disappointingand for an artist known for her interpretive abilities, she’s almost completely short of insight and reflectiveness. She actively dismisses most composers that aren’t German and sums up roles she didn’t like as “stupid”. And the amount of roles she didn’t like, colleagues she could have lived without, and opera houses she felt disrespected at are such that I often was reading wondering why she bothered in the first play if it was so miserable for her.

            • Bill

              Is this a new book or one that has just recently been translated from German. I have read other interviews with Ludwig -- she seems to be down to earth -- she does praise singers she worked with, Callas, Schwarzkopf, Seefried at least in part and
              she profusely praises conductors including Bernstein, von Karajan, Boehm, Solti, Levine.
              She could be slightly boastful -- when one
              critic asked her about lieder singers and who was the best she said, “well for Schubert Seefried, for Wolf Schwarzkopf and for Brahms -- me !” Ludwig was sought out by many of the greatest conductors of her day and that says a great deal. This past year she hosted an interview with Gundula Janowitz on stage at the Vienna
              State Opera and they had a great deal of fun honoring Janowitz. She had some good successes in Italian Opera -- for example
              Lady Macbeth and sang Cenerentola, Barbiere and some additional Verdi roles,
              Amneris, Ulrica, Eboli, Quickly, Frederica in Luisa Miller, Preziosilla, Azucena and quite a varied operatic repertoire outside of German roles, Charlotte, Carmen, Didon, Genevieve in Pelleas, In typical German fashion she rose through the operatic ranks beginning in Frankfurt, then Darmstadt, Hannover before Boehm hired her for
              Vienna in 1955 (telling her -- you will sing
              Cherubino, Dorabella, such things even though Ludwig was singing heavier roles from her earliest days -- I think Boehm had a good feeling for
              voices) -- she ended up singing 770 evenings in Vienna alone, Salzburg regularly, the Met etc not to speak of her numerous lieder recitals and many orchestral concerts. A full glorious career.
              And in some operatic roles, I think virtually unsurpassed during her prime.

            • PCally

              This was a book written quite some time ago at this point.

              I’m something of an agnostic regarding Ludwig. There is some really stunning singing on record but a lot of the live material, though much of it is tremendously exciting, is actually way more unevenly sung that her reputation would suggest. I think her studio Ortrud is remarkable and I obviously didn’t see her live but I was disappointing with the recent Wiener Staatoper release of the Ortrud for Bohm where despite having certain strengths her rival in the role don’t, she really seems to be beefing up and essentially lyric sound with some extra heft in order to handle more dramatic rep. And I don’t really think of the soprano roles she had success in are really on par with any of the actual sopranos who also sang that music (I would take Borkh’s Dyer’s Wife over Ludwig’s for example and as Kundry, Crespin). And I feel that way about a lot of her live recordings, a decent amount of which definitely show to her struggling through music that seems a bit beyond her natural endowment, though the technique gets her through.

            • Bill

              PCally -- I happened to see Christa Ludwig
              quite frequently (mostly in German roles -- though her Carmen premiere in Vienna)
              and two I thought extremely superior were the Dyer’s Wife and Ortrud both assumptions among the best I have ever seen. I saw her single Fidelio at the Met
              (replacing a Nilsson/Rysanek Elektra)
              and it was quite fine -- not as thrilling as
              Rysanek at her best but still impressive.
              Ludwig sometimes sharpened but she was a sumptious Charlotte and I frequently saw her Octavian -- one of the best of the Mezzos though once I saw her with Streich
              as Sophie and Ludwig did nothing to modulate her voice to not overwhelm Streich in volume when they sang together. Streich sang exquisitely but
              Ludwig was just too loud. I do not believe
              that Ludwig was the best of actors, but she when working with a good stage director such as Wieland Wagner, was
              very effective on stage. She could pour out the sound -- her Mahler was very fine too. Her Klytemnestra, not as frightening as Moedl, Varnay, Resnik, was more
              beautifully sung. Her Marschallin, not my overwhelming favorite, was stylish, her
              Brangaene was marvelous and her Marie in Wozzeck top-notch (done when she was still singing the 2nd Lady in Zauberfloete where the voice must be modulated to blend with the others). And I liked her Dido but we also had Crespin,
              Verrett). I do not have a favorite Kundry as some are more effective in the 1st and 3rd act and others in the 2nd. In general I did not hear her in her Italian roles except Luisa Miller but she was wonderful as Clairon. Of the great Mezzos in Vienna, Hoengen was a much better actress than
              Ludwig, Baltsa also, Garanca has a more beautiful voice throughout the range but I suppose Ludwig had the most volume when needed. I heard Anday too late to make any judgement. All Dorabellas
              who could sing Amneris and Carmen.

            • Lohenfal

              Ludwig was greatly esteemed at the Met in the 1960’s, especially as Octavian, Ortrud and die Färberin. I was so impressed by her Färberin that I had to deliberately not think about it when I saw Goerke in the role a few years ago. Even after almost a half-century, the beauty of her voice and dramatic intensity onstage still stay in my memory.

            • Luvtennis

              Why do people confuse stage craft with intelligence????? Why are singers who are known for their acting considered intelligent. Parrots can talk and Martin Lawrence acted while on every drug known to man.

              And for the record -- Ms Ludwig don’t know shit. ????

            • Armerjacquino

              Show me on the doll where the actor hurt you.

            • Luvtennis

              I was mostly joking but surely you know that acting ability is not necessarily indicative of anything but acting ability. and I love actors by the way.

            • I don’t think Martin Lawrence was ever accused of being a great actor …

            • Luvtennis

              He was accused of a lot! Lol!

          • fletcher

            She definitely tends to be very blunt, almost absurdly so -- I think there’s meant to be a bit of brittle humor in it. I’ve read other interviews where she speaks very movingly about Wunderlich. But yes, I remember the same comment. (some creative googling involved there)

      • manou

        Ludwig was my very first Carmen. And yes, she can certainly say what she wants -- if only more divas/divos would be as frank as she is!

      • Lohenfal

        When Ludwig disparages Italian opera, she’s only reflecting a prejudice which once existed and might still exist in Germany/Austria.

        I remember Alma Mahler-Werfel’s interview in Opera News in the early 1960’s. She said, more or less, that nothing Verdi wrote before Otello was of much significance, and she even had her doubts about Otello. On the other hand, she praised Wagner to the skies and said that her experience of Tristan in her youth left her completely overwhelmed. I’ve never been able to forget these comments, although I certainly don’t agree with them.

        • Bill

          Lohenfal -- most opera lovers have favorite operas and those they do not care for so much. Some Germans/Austrians may not care for some Italian Operas but the repertoire listings for each season in German and Central Europe houses indicate that Italian Opera is as much performed there as German Operas.
          And we must remember that the great revival of many middle-period Verdi operas, Forza, Don Carlos, Ballo etc. in the mid 1930s began in the German Opera Houses. Bel Canto operas with a few exceptions were not as popular in Germany/Austria until singers such as Gruberova began to sing them there. On the other hand, you do not find much Lortzing in Italy either, I presume.

          • Lohenfal

            Bill, it was ironic that Alma Mahler-Werfel made those comments about Verdi, since her last husband, Franz Werfel, was a Verdi enthusiast and devised his own version of Die Macht des Schicksals. There are statistics which show that Verdi was more popular than Wagner in Germany even during the Third Reich, and of course the Verdi revival of the 1920’s and 1930’s originated in Germany. Still, I can’t help feeling that there has always been some prejudice in certain quarters there. I believe that the current run of Chénier in Munich represents the first time this opera was every performed there. And, of course, the feeling at Bayreuth was always negative. Wagner didn’t allow Verdi’s name to be mentioned in his presence, and Cosima had disparaging remarks about how there was no development in Verdi’s art from Ernani to Falstaff. Even a Wagnerite like myself has to admit that these feelings have existed and I completely reject those feelings.

            • Bill

              Lohenfal -- I am surprised also if Munich had not done Chenier previously. But even the Met had a long gap until del Monaco did it.
              Even when I was first in Munich in 1965 they
              were still doing all Italian Operas in German
              and maybe they did not have star tenors
              previously who demanded it.

              It has been done pretty regularly in Vienna
              even previously with Roswaenge in German
              and in 1960 fot Corelli followed by Bergonzi, di Stefano, Vickers and others and in another new production in 1981 for Domingo with Carreras, Bonisolli, Pavarotti, eventually Botha and a crop of other tenors. `
              I assume Chenier is mounted most frequently when a deserving tenor wants to do it -- same for Adriana when a Tebaldi wishes it as a vehicle. So Kaufmann,
              being a big star in Munich, once he embraced Chenier, it is only logical that
              they would do it for him. And strangely,
              though personally preferring many operas in the German/Slavic repertoire, I enjoy Chenier a great deal though many consider it musically a second rate opera.

              Few German opera house do not
              have the more popular Puccini operas every year in repertoire, Verdi is frequently performed (in Vienna Don Carlos was done for a time even more frequently than Aida)
              and Bel Canto has taken much more of a foothold than 50 years ago. Salzburg does more Italian Opera than it used to --
              Bayreuth is utterly different -- those who do not care for Wagner are unlikely to attend.

            • Lohenfal

              Bill, I was surprised also about the Chénier premiere in Munich, but the BR-Klassik website says “erstmals auf dem Spielplan der Bayerischen Staatsoper,” so I assume that it was never done there before now.

              In Jonathan Carr’s The Wagner Clan, there is mention of Wagner as being the most frequently performed opera composer in Germany through the 1930’s, but during WWII, Verdi took over the top position. According to Carr, even during the 30’s, Wagner performances were becoming less frequent. It looks like there was a change of taste going on, and in recent times, as you mention, Italian opera is well-represented both in Germany and Austria. Unfortunately, C. Ludwig’s comments represent a reversion to another time. When she says “Is that really art?” she seems to be unaware of how opera history is looked at now. I can and will still admire her work, which I remember well, but not her antiquated viewpoint, which seems provincial now.

        • It’s a prejudice that was very active among critics of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Here’s one review of La Boheme:

          “La Bohème is foul in subject and fulminant, but futile, in its music. Its heroine is a twin sister of the woman of the camellias, whose melodious death puts such a delightfully soothing balm upon our senses that we forget to weep in Verdi’s opera. But Mimi is fouler than Camille, alias Violetta, and Puccini (sic) has not been able to administer the palliative which lies in Verdi’s music.”

          • Lohenfal

            I immediately recognized the words of Henry Krehbiel, one of the leading American critics of that time. He was one of the leading Wagner champions in NYC--could that have had something to do with his rejection of Pauccini, as he spelled the name? In 1907, however, he likewise rejected the neo-Wagnerian, Germanic Salome in even more severe terms. I suspect that part of his reaction to these operas came from their “immorality.” That might have bothered him more than any anti-Italian feeling he might have shared.

            • Looking up Henry Krehbiel reviews is fun. Here’s what he had to say about Salome:

              “A reviewer ought to be equipped with a dual nature, both intellectual and moral, in order to pronounce fully and fairly upon the qualities of the drama by Oscar Wilde and Richard Strauss.He should be an embodied conscience stung into righteous fury by the moral stench with which “Salome” fills the nostrils of humanity, but, though it makes him retch, he should be sufficiently judicial in his temperament calmly to look at the drama in all its aspects and determine whether or not as a whole it is an instructive note on the life and culture of the times and whether or not this exudation from the diseased and polluted will and imagination of the authors marks a real advance in artistic expression, irrespective of its contents or their fitness for dramatic representation.

              There is a vast deal of ugly music in “Salome”-music that offends the ear and rasps the nerves like fiddlestrings played on by a course file…What shall be said…when music adorns itself with the loveliest attributes and leads them to the apotheosis of that which is indescribably, yes, inconceivably gross and abominable? Music can not lie. Not even the genius of Richard Strauss can make it discriminate in its soaring ecstasy between a vile object and a good. There are three supremely beautiful musical moments in “Salome.” Two of them are purely instrumental, though it has an accompaniment of word and action. The first is an intermezzo in which all action ceases except that which plays in the bestially perverted heart and mind of Salome. A baffled amorous hunger changes to a desire for revenge. The second is the music of the dance. The third is the marvelous finale, in which an impulse which can only be conceived as rising from the uttermost pit of degradation is beatified…There is not a whiff of fresh and healthy air blowing through “Salome” except that which exhales from the cistern, the prison house of Jochanaan. Even the love of Narraboth, the young Syrian captain, for the princess is tainted by the jealous outbursts of Herodias’ page. Salome is the unspeakable; Herodias…is a human hyena; Herod, a neurasthenic voluptuary.”

              On the other hand he seems to have liked Madama Butterfly:

              “”Madama Butterfly” has brought to Miss Farrar another opportunity to disclose her splendid gifts of dramatic representation. Freed from occasional extravagance of action, which robs it of repose, which is as essential in tragic moments of the second and third scenes as in the comedy of the first, her impersonation would be almost ideal. In pose, gesture, vocal interpretation, facial expression, movement, it is full of eloquence and grace. She sounds the note of deep pathos in both action and song convincingly, and last night won the tribute of tears from many eyes. Her growth into womanhood and from womanhood to tragic stature is beautifully presented without abruptness and with real power. As she is a beautiful vision, her triumph was complete. Of Signor Caruso no one would expect an impersonation with even a little dramatic illusion; but the music is a perfect vehicle for his voice, or his voice for the music. Signor Scotti, besides singing well, has filled a needed plea for America by making a manly man out of the Consul Sharpless. Madame Homer looks, sings, and acts the part of Suzuki with lovely devotion to every detail, and Mr. Reiss makes an amusing busybody out of Goro, the matchmaker. “

            • Lohenfal

              Ivy, at least he recognized the three supremely beautiful moments in Salome amid all the moral degradation he found surrounding them. Eventually, he even came to have some benevolent tendencies towards Pauccini. Ultimately, though, his Wagnerism always lies beneath the surface of his elegant prose.

    • QuantoPainyFakor

      Domingo would never say negative things about a colleague. Ludwig’s untoward remark is very surprising -- sounds like a jealous old woman!

      • I’ve heard Domingo say VERY negative things about colleagues and in one instance heard him scream those things outside an artist’s dressing room (Madame Crespin). Domingo is usually an agreeable man and social, Ludwig was a dumb bitch anointed by record reviewers and the stupider fans who buy hype -- “She was my FIRST Carmen” — that is, she must be GREAT. “I LOVED HER DYER’S WIFE” = I had never heard the opera, can’t read a score, she was my first and was THE GREATEST.

        Ludwig with her light middle sized voice and soprano timbre with a strong and disturbing tendency to sing VERY sharp also struck me as vastly overrated. People thought she was a thrilling Dyer’s Wife because of course they didn’t know the opera. I’d take Inge Borkh ANY day, greatness as opposed to a bag of tricks.

        I saw her often, including her last Fidelio when the Met shifted the announced opera because Nilsson was injured. She did have charisma of sorts but she was the dullest famous Didon I’ve ever encountered (at least the appalling Maria Ewing seemed like an alien from the planet Kfcu). I’d take Crespin, Meier, Hunt, Norman any day — Ludwig was not nearly as interesting as any of them.

        She captured Ortrud’s viciousness because that was she, vocally it was iffy and rarely in tune (the record is manipulated). She was nothing compared to crazy Eva Marton who shook the walls and was genuinely scary, not a nasty little bitch, or Leonie Rysanek, she wasn’t as deranged as De Vol, didn’t have the vocal impact of Dunn, could not begin to match the great and chilling Polaski and on record can’t begin to approach either George Gorr at her greatest at Bayreuth or the amazing Varnay or the world eating Grete Klose, my cousin, and I am still awaiting the house tape of Martha Never-say-die-Modl at La Scala with Evil Incarnate.

        I saw her Amneris TWICE — inaudible and incapable at the top. She was booed as Eboli at Salzburg but sang the role a few times — never very well.

        She was basically a Cherubino and Octavian who PUSHED. I’d take Lisa Della Casa as the boy and as the Marschallin, which Christa sang (sharp) a bunch of times. As Octavian she had NOTHING compared to Flicka who was great, Troyanos, young Susie Graham, or big little Brigitte Fassbaender, or the far more detailed Sophie Koch or even ice maiden Garanca.

        I’ve seen MANY a lieder concert, hers were the dullest by a hyped “serious” singer (of course, different level than Dreary). When she tried Winterreise there wasn’t a wet eye in the house, except those old ladies who DESPERATELY needed to get to the bathroom.

        And this stupid old bitch gets taken seriously?

        • QuantoPainyFakor

          ooo great post!

        • manou

          I am very grateful to you Mrs JC for bracketing me with the very erudite Bill who says of Ludwig’s performances “…and two I thought extremely superior were the Dyer’s Wife and Ortrud both assumptions among the best I have ever seen”.

          However, I merely said that the first time I saw Carmen Ludwig was the protagonist -- as it happens, I did not like her much.

          • Why thank you, “Manou”. I am so glad you have friends. I imagine you and Bill and “Lohenfal” travelling around the “special school”, holding hands, trying to stay upright and in one direction. Ooops, be careful they have gone hand in hand into the room for little boys, you must go next door, for the little girls. Matron will hold your hand while you go so Mr. Toitoi won’t swallow you up. Then grab their little hands (they’re fussing outside the door) and make the rounds of the school yard again. The walls will keep you in. You can tell each other how marvelous you are, how intelligent, and yes, how expert. Don’t worry, we won’t let on. In this school, “you are special little dumplings”. Even though matron sighs, “thank god they will die soon, that lot is useless in life”.

            • DonCarloFanatic

              Mrs. JC, your erudition is only surpassed by your egregious nastiness.

            • Why, Don Carlo Fanatic, don’t you have an obese person to run around and fat shame?

            • manou

              I expected no less from these quarters but was still taken aback by the sneering at people with learning disabilities.

            • Yes, looking in a mirror is painful for you, I assume.

            • manou

              It can be -- but at least I can look at myself in the mirror.

            • Um.. can you parse that sentence or has senescence won?

            • manou

              The concepts of dignity and clear conscience are evidently beyond your comprehension.

            • Sorry honey, I’ve seen you operate for years here and your lack of self awareness, your viciousness (which you hypocritically deny yet believe no one else is bright enough to catch), suggest mental debility to me. You are an incredible phony. I will never forget catching you and whatever that ignorant nonentity was called in a chat, pretending to be a sweet innocent girl and your inane clucking and meanness about others. And I have NEVER seen anything from you that suggests other than a nasty ignorance about opera. That a rebuke from you or your fellow inmates would bother me is an indication of your supreme arrogance.

            • Lohenfal

              I would like to share Manou’s gratitude at having been bracketed with Bill. I won’t, however, engage in any gratuitous insults. I like to hold myself above such things.

              And, yes, I can read a score.

            • I am skeptical. Your comments on Boheme were the height of naivete and foolishness. And that is a VERY easy score to read. Maybe you mean the treble clef in the key of C? I can suggest somethings you can do, but instead maybe you should abandon all the cliche think and come up with an interesting insight rather than the usual ancient yawn? But it hardly matters to me. And yes, you are very grand. I can imagine you hold yourself above things… maybe you can supply parterre with a picture of that operation? It would be more interesting than anything I’ve read you posting. But by all mean go back sighing to your “Mahler, Wagner and Schumann” as you bragged (?) because you couldn’t answer clearly any questions about your “insights”. Using their names so you can take grotesquely snobbish refuge in them seems rather like prostituting them.

        • Luvtennis

          Don’t forget the Legge factor. I think he promoted Ludwig as the great successor to Klose…. and those Gramaphone reviewers…..

          • Yes, among the stupidest and least informed people to write about ALL forms of music. I worked for Gramophone and it was entirely corrupt.

            I got into trouble for alienating the EMI people by catching all the fakery they got up to in recording the “Vienna Philharmonic” (when the hopeless harpist (!) couldn’t even fart they tracked in a conservatory student, when the second oboe croaked, they tracked in one of his students, when the viola section couldn’t play in tune, they recorded them alone and digitally doctored the intonation — I caught on to all this because I read the scores, heard the mistakes and talked to the conductor and some of the orchestra members. The latter had PLENTY of tales about EMI in particularly faking things going back to the tape based stereo console days).

            EMI was a HUGE Gramophone advertiser. I used to commiserate with Bryce Morrison who they kept firing or cutting back. He was their ONLY knowledgeable piano reviewer and I had met him in a master class given by Claudio Arrau --“have you had a neurological injury?” — Arrau to me. But Bryce was the real deal, a very accomplished pianist, a gifted chamber player, and a fine teacher. He was the only piano reviewer who simply told the truth and knew the works, they HATED him.

            I always identify the Americans who memorized their gramophone magazines and parrot all the horseshit back and the opera reviewing was especially bad. One of the idiots attacking me here does precisely that.

            I will say that John (“Domingo in the Muti Forza is as good or perhaps better than Caruso”) Steane did catch onto Ludwig. He’s the only major reviewer I know who mentioned her intonation difficulties, especially the pronounced and frequent sharp tuning, and also her unsteadiness and unbalanced registers.

            The Klose live Ortruds are astounding for the sheer black massiveness of tone and her utter security, Ludwig is a joke in comparison. But frankly, one can turn to the Met broadcast of 1934 with Maria Olszewska (and Rethberg and Melchior) to hear someone hurl a massive back tone dead in tune into the Met and realize what a fraud Ludwig was.

            • ines

              Curious to read about Ludwig , being referred as a fraud and a joke…..

    • LePhilosophe

      May I ask how many people have actually read the original article to understand the context of this article? I have seen so much vitriol against Ludwig for the comments listed in this article, though the quotes within a wide-ranging article seem entirely different. For instance, when discussing the Italian operas, the full quote is closer to: “I seldom go to the opera, in principle opera does not particularly interest me. I don’t truly see opera as artwork--at most those of Richard Wagner and maybe of Strauss. But all those Italian operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi: is that truly art? In Strauss’s Capriccio, the Count says: ‘An opera is an absurd thing. Orders are sung; affairs of state are discussed in duets; people dance on graves and suicide takes place melodically.'”

      To me, this seems like an entirely different take than a cranky grandmother spouting some nationalistic worldviews, especially as I remember a wonderful interview she gave a few years ago for WKCR’s opera program where she told the young interviewer she really only goes to the opera nowadays for works she does not know well or for Puccini. In this article, she then goes on to clarify that “Donizetti said nothing to me. Music must go into one’s soul.” I think that really is just her describing her personal preference, as she found performing the Italian parts like a sport of sorts. She has also said bluntly that Berlioz was not a composer she particularly loved. Chacun a son gout.

      I do find MrsJohn Claggart’s comments toward Christa Ludwig rather offensive in that there are countless admirers of Ludwig who loved her work for entirely different reasons (not to mention praising Klose’s Ortrud over Ludwig’s simply because it seems louder, more secure, or more evil seems to suggest that is all Ortrud is). One speaker here mentioned how Ludwig doesn’t necessarily offer particularly fresh insights into roles in her book (unlike, say, a Waltraud Meier, who can explain them clearly); however, in speaking with that young man who interviewed Ludwig for WKCR, he pinned his love of Ludwig (keep in mind that the man was barely 20 years old when he met her) on a phenomenon that Roland Barthes wrote about the Romantic Song. As he wrote to me about this essay, “while a Lied may be performed before a small audience, its principal performing space should not be called a public one. In fact, Barthes cites this space as the interiority of the mind. When listening to a Lied, ‘I sing the lied with myself, for myself. I address myself, within myself, to an Image.’ The Lied actually enables a listener to search for ‘the image of the beloved in which I lose myself and from which my own image, abandoned comes back to me.'” In a way, what I adore so much about Ludwig is the utter simplicity (though not superficiality) of her delivery that is both unique as it comes from within herself but also seems to sing directly to me. From Brahms to Leonore to Kundry, I can always identify Ludwig’s artistry as entirely her own, one with which she communicated directly to those before her. And what she communicates is what she identified as her own “Geheimnis.” Whether she howls with maniacal laughter as Ortrud or sings the most stunning legato phrases in the Rückert-Lieder, just about everything I have ever listened to her sing has seemed to emerge almost exclusively from within herself.

      MrsJohn Claggart may dismiss Ludwig’s fame as nothing more than media hype, so I’d just like to leave this video here of her singing Brahms with Leonard Bernstein, a recording made in the midst of her vocal crisis. Make your own judgments.

  • Cicciabella

    The plot of Wozzeck narrated by children:

  • For those in the NYC area, all Paul Taylor tickets are $5 tonight. Kinky Boots has a code called SNOW which discounts orchestra tickets to $69 -- $50. Phantom also has a code called PHSNOW209. War Paint’s code is BEAUTY.

    • Bluecabochon

      Via what site?

  • Johnny

    For those Jean-Francois Borras fans out there, I discovered the tenor is featured in the Royal Opera’s feature on Werther led by Antonio Pappano: Jean-Francois is first brought out at 17:11. Enjoy!