Cher Public

Midcentury modern

Die Zauberflöte may be the most popular opera which I haven’t yet posted with respect to my goal of offering the most-performed works around the world.  This week’s feature is a classic Salzburger Festspiele performance from 1959 with the all-star cast of Leopold Simoneau, Lisa Della Casa, Kurt Böhme, Erika Köth, Walter Berry, Hans Hotter, Graziella Sciutti and Karl Dönch conducted by George Szell. 

While most of them centered their careers in Europe, all but one managed at least a few performances at the Met.  Della Casa leads with about 175 performances, followed by Szell and Berry with just under 100 performances each.  Simoneau sang only five performance as Don Ottavio and Sciutti, in her post-soubrette era, debuted as a stage director for a revival of Così fan tutte.  Dönch had a stronghold on Beckmessser for a few seasons.  Hotter and Böhme demonstrated their artistry in Wagner and Strauss roles.  Köth is the only one to not have the Met on her résumé.

  • Thank you JML! i had wanted to hear della casa as Pamina for the longest time. Now I can!

    • AGH

      I too wanted to hear della Casa -- a great favourite of mine -as Pamina. I greatly enjoyed listening to the recording and am most grateful to you for making it available. In the hope of finding out a little more about the cast I turned to the review of these performances in Opera. The reviewer found little to enthuse over in the singing, He disliked della Casa’s approach to Pamina, but very much liked the performances of Simoneau and Koth. (I was a little surprised to learn that the latter had never sung at the Met. I had thought her the best Queen of the Night I had ever heard at a performance in Munich in 1958 (this reviewer found her probably the best since Berger) -- but was then disappointed with her lower register as Sophie.) Although he liked Berry’s voice, he preferred Kunz’s approach to Papageno. The other singers were passed over without comment. Is it that standards of singing have slipped so much since then that I should think this a very good performance, or had the reviewer just had a bad, over-priced meal?