Cher Public

Saluting Kurt Moll

“Trove Thursday” pays tribute to the great German bass Kurt Moll who died two months ago with Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail featuring his classic Osmin. This broadcast from Paris is conducted by Karl Böhm and its cast also includes Christiane Eda-Pierre, Norma Burrowes, Ryland Davies and Norbert Orth

Moll sang nearly 130 performances of eleven roles at the Met in a career that stretched from 1978 to 2005. The first time I heard him was in 1982 as Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier which I was surprised to realize was his only run of that role there. I particularly remember his marvelous Rocco in Fidelio and his noble and caring Sarastro during the first seasons of two different productions of Die Zauberflöte—the John CoxDavid Hockney show in 1991 and the current Julie Taymor version in 2005 in which he made his final Met appearances.

I’m particularly disappointed to have missed enjoying in person his towering Osmin which he performed at the premiere of the 1979 John Dexter production which is still in the Met repertoire and was revived as recently as last season. He returned to the role there in both 1990 and finally in 2003. His portrayal is probably best known from the 1973 DG Böhm recording with Arleen Augér, Reri Grist and Peter Schreier.

This performance from several years later shows him in prime form and livelier than on the commercial recording. Since it’s conducted by Böhm there are some cuts including the unsurprising omission of “Ich baue ganz.” My recollection is that Stuart Burrows had been scheduled to sing Belmonte but became ill and was replaced for the opening (heard here) by Davies.

Both Burrowes and Orth sang alongside Moll in the Dexter Met premiere, their only roles at the house. I retain a particular fondness for Burrowes whose career didn’t last very long and whose lovely Dalinda is a highlight of the Raymond Leppard recording of Handel’s Ariodante. After Pedrillo, Orth went on to sing dramatic roles like Walther von Stolzing and Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos.

Burrowes appears in the Colin Davis recording of Entführung with Eda-Pierre who also sang several performances of Konstanze at the Met in 1980, one of her just three roles there. Perhaps the Martinique-born French soprano brings an unusual voice to this Mozart role but I’ve always found her a formidable performer who brings an appealing vulnerability to Konstanze. Her disk of arias by Philidor and Grétry remains a particular delight.

Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Paris Opera
26 March 1976


Christiane Eda-Pierre : Konstanze
Norma Burrowes : Blondchen
Ryland Davies : Belmonte
Norbert Orth : Pedrillo
Kurt Moll : Osmin
Karlheinz Böhm : Pasha Selim

Karl Böhm : Conductor

To download Entführung, just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

With a nod to a recent Parterre Box discussion and to Saturday’s final Met HD transmission, I might call attention to two previous “Trove Thursday” offerings:

Stephen Sondheim’s Passion starring Natalie Dessay


and a Glyndebourne Der Rosenkavalier with Régine Crespin, Elisabeth Söderström, Anneliese Rothenberger and Oskar Czerwenka.


These and more than 60 other “Trove Thursday” podcasts remain available from iTunes (for free!)or via any RSS reader.

  • aulus agerius

    The first time I heard Kurt Moll was the 1979 telecast of Otello with Domingo and Cruz-Romo. Third act. Lodovico opens his mouth and this incredible voice comes jumping out of the tv screen. Even with my novice awareness I knew that was the real thing.

  • Anton VonWebern

    If you want to hear Golden Age caliber passage work, scales and fearless leaps just check out Moll’s Ha, wie will ich triumphieren

  • RealzTenisFanz

    I am almost sure that Burrows sang a Madama Butterfly with Leontyne Price in the 1970s. Or am I reading that wrong when you said that Belmonte was Burrows only role in the house?

  • JR

    Wrong singer: Stuart Burrowes vs. Norma Burrowes

  • Stuart Burrows (not Burrowes) made his Met debt in 1971 as Don Ottavio. His other roles there in the 1970s included two Pinkertons with Leontyne Price in 1973 (plus one with Gilda Cruz-Romo several years later on tour), Tamino, a bunch of Alfredos (“Traviata”) with Sills, and Faust. He returned in 1982 for six performances as Belmonte. He gave close to 80 performances with company at Lincoln Center and on tour.

    • Delmonaco

      Stuart Burrows doesn’t get mentioned very often these days, but he was such a beautiful singer -- I treasure his recital discs of traditional English songs, and in the 80’s had very popular TV show in the U.K. I’m surprised that he sang Pinkerton, although he was an excellent Alfredo at ROH ( with Te Kanawa and Bruson). Did he sing often at the Met?

      • Lots of Don Ottavios (his Met debut role), Taminos, and Belmonte plus some Alfredos, Pinkertons, and Fausts. About 80 performances between 1971 and 1983. He still remains my all-time favorite Don Ottavio.

        • CarlottaBorromeo

          As well as being an excellent singer and a lovely man Stuart was smart. In his last run of Fausts at Covent Garden (when he was winding down his opera career) he used to start the high C in “Salut, demeure” upstage. If it was a good one he would turn downstage. If it wasn’t great he’d let it go into the wings….

      • Camille

        True, he doesn’t, and I know little of his singing other than his exemplary accounting of the role of Roberto in the recorded Maria Stuarda with that titanic twosome, La Bubbles and La Eileen. His singing sets a kind of standard for dulcet beauty and fluidity. Wish that I had ever had occasion to have attended his performances.

        • Delmonaco

          Burrows was my grandmothers favourite tenor -- she said he reminded her of the tenors she heard as a girl in Glasgow (she was born in 1905) -- the sort of Edwardian pure tenor who she remembered singing at church events and house parties. I understand what she meant, he seems to belong to an earlier generation, formal elegant, a little stiff perhaps, but able to bring tears to your eyes. “The complete Decca recitaIs ” is a great cd, highly recommended. I also wish I’d seen him on stage. He’s apparently still alive and in retirement in Wales.

          • Camille

            Oh thank you! Sweetness never goes out of style, especially with it becoming an even rarer commodity these days.

            Interesting about what you say of your grandmother’s experience of those tenors, and which brings to mind “The Dead”, my sole, tiny porthole into that vanished world.

            • Delmonaco

              Yes, The Dead is also my reference for that world -- how nice that we both had the same mental picture!

            • Camille

              Indeed! I’m not familiar with any other such story in any case, though there well may be one.

              This reminds me: I have yet to see the film of “The Dead” from around twenty years ago and should seek it out.

            • Delmonaco

              The film is very good indeed -- it was John Huston’s last film and adapts the story very faithfully.

  • aulus agerius

    I was lucky enough to see Stuart Burrows as des Grieux in Manon with Reri Grist in SF in 1981. That was Kurt Herbert Adler’s last hurrah season and there were other oldie but goodies like Cesare Siepi as Don Giovanni. They were all wonderful btw.