Cher Public

Fashions fade, style is eternal

Born on this day in 1936 designer Yves Saint-Laurent

Born on this day in 1819 writer Herman Melville.

Born on this day in 1899 conductor William Steinberg.

Born on this day in 1921 contralto Lili Chookasian.

Happy 91st birthday bass Theo Adam.

Happy 85th birthday soprano Elinor Ross.

Born on this day in 1933 actor Dom DeLuise.

Born on this day in 1931 tenor and teacher Nico Castel.

Happy 76th birthday conductor Jordi Savall.

Happy 75th birthday tenor Claes H Ahnsjö.

. . . and your humble servant Windy City Operaman adds another ring around his trunk today. Happy Birthday Leos!

  • Camille

    Happy Birthday WindyCityMan and thanks for ALL you do around here — such a positive,
    Interesting and informative contribution.

    As the Miss Clairol ad said “You’re not getting older—You’re getting BETTER”.

  • rapt

    Happy Birthday, WCO. Your informative and well-put roundups are a predictable source of happiness to my days--and how many of those does one have?

  • Fernando Balliache

    Happy birthday WCO!

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Thank you all! Much love, WCO

  • fletcher

    No birthday thread for Aug 2, I guess, but happy 80th to Gundula Janowitz!

    • Armerjacquino

      A rare and glorious interview with her here:

      • Bill

        Janowitz was one of my favorite sopranos -- she came to Vienna at a time when the great Viennese
        sopranos of the 1950s were still at their respective
        peaks and was able to observe them on stage
        while singing Barbarina, Cherubino, Flora in Traviata, small roles in Poppea, 1st Lady in the Magic Flute, the shepherd in Tannhaueser, Kate Pinkerton etc.
        stepping in as Pamina. Marzelline, as she eventually graduated to Marenka in the Bartered Bride and her famous Mozart, Weber and Strauss roles. Karajan
        took to her early on and immensely aided in advancing her career utilizing her in Haydn’s Creation, in Beethoven’s Ninth as Pamina and such.
        It was with Karajan where I first saw her in person
        in Salzburg in Haydn’s Creation in 1965 and then shortly after in Vienna as Marenka, Pamina and later throughout her career until her final Ariadne
        in Vienna on May 18th, 1990 -- we did not know it was to be her farewell until the management gave her a silver plate at one of her curtain calls.
        So 25 years of hearing her wonderful instrumental voice which flowed so freely with only some tightening on the top in the last years. She remained pretty much within her fach throughout her career with perhaps the exception of Fidelio
        and the Dyer’s Wife in Frau which she sang only once in 1964. Her diction in German was wondrously clear. She seemed to be a modest singer (as partly evidenced in the interview above) and in Vienna almost always left through the garage after performances rather than greeting her
        fans at the stage door as most of her colleagues
        did. There are some singers who have or had
        similar voices since, Gessendorf, Kuehmeier,
        Schwanewilms -- and not every opera fan appreciates this instrumental, tubular sound but I find it ideal for Agathe, Mozart, lyric Richard Strauss and Janowitz was one of the finest exponents of these roles during her era or any era -- pitch perfect and the darling of many important conductors of her era.
        Happy 80th !!!

        • Camille

          “Karajan took to her early on”. Doesn’t she sing the lead BlümenMâdchen in his Parsifal very early on? A more perfect voice for that part I’ve never experienced.

        • southerndoc1

          Even in early recordings, I always heard a little bit of a steam-whistle quality when she went for volume in the upper range. Did you hear anything like that in live performance? Thanks.

          • Bill

            Southerndoc1 -- I am not quite sure what a steam-whistle quality in a soprano is -- Janowitz’s voice did not alter extensively over the years except some hardening at the extreme top and even early on that was slightly evident. Not everyone likes her particular sound (instrumental, slightly tubular,) but for me it is ideal for roles such as
            Agathe. The voice just flows in an even stream of gorgeous sound -- not as passionate on stage as others, perhaps a bit stately but playful enough as the Figaro Countess -- She could move well as the capricious Marenka, she could be maturein a reserved manner as the Countess in Capriccio or as the Marschallin -- and sing with extreme clarity of diction in her German roles. It is the kind of voice which blended splendidly with other voices (such as with Popp in Arabella or in Figaro or with Ludwig in Cosi) -- she did not utter ugly sounds for dramatic effect and of course there was an absolute world of difference between her
            rather controlled Sieglinde and that of say. Rysanek who was always so spontaneous on stage. When she did go for volume in the upper range, Janowitz’ voice remained something of the same quality as when singing softer -- the voice did not absolutely blossom in the thrilling manner of some --
            (Rysanek for example) -- a certain controlled tightness would be on display. But the notes were on pitch and the beauty of voice remained intact. The middle voice was sumptuous -- it seems as if it was sometimes part of the orchestra (and Karajan for one according to other singers
            always considered voices to be part of the orchestra which is why he appreciated
            the young Janowitz and probably asked her to learn the Kaiserin. Janowitz’s history,
            starting in smaller roles, learning her craft, prime choice eventually among important conductors who helped her develop is the classic method which often leads to
            continued success and longer careers, gradually taking on and capturing more important roles -- sticking reasonably to one’s vocal fach. Her lieder, in my opinion, while exquisitely sung, did not always go to the depths of interpretation as some of her forerunners had done -- perhaps a certain blandness though with nary an ugly tone.
            She did not attempt to color her voice to
            bring out every nuance of each word or phrase. It was the purity of her voice that I most admired in Janowitz -- very few could equal that (though I certainly liked Zylis-Gara, Margaret Price, Kanawa, Gessendorf etc who sang or could have sung many of Janowitz’ roles during that period. One does not read of much temperament or intrigue in Vienna as she ascended -- she probably largely sang the roles to which she was assigned. Much of her work was in Austria and Germany with few forays to the USA for example -- I recall hearing her here only as Sieglinde and in Schumann’s Paradies und Peri -- whether the Met reached out to her and she did not respond or if they found she was not needed, I have no idea. Others here on Parterre may be
            more privy to the facts.


            • Arianna a Nasso

              Thank you, Bill, for all your insightful posts on parterre -- I learn a lot from them. I recall reading that Janowitz and Wunderlich were to create the Met’s new Zauberfloete in 1967; he died, but I don’t know why she did not appear. Also that she was to star in new Freischuetz there in 1969-70, which was cancelled by the strike; she was not available when it was rescheduled in a later season. Does anyone else recall this? Perhaps by the 70s, she decided her career was at such a high level that she was content being based in Europe.

            • Bill

              Arianna -- I know at one time the Met had
              booked Janowitz for Pamina. When Karajan was going to do the Walkuere at the Met
              he wanted Janowitz for Sieglinde (either at the Met or at Salzburg) and things got juggled around and the Paminas were dropped and she did what, I think 2 Sieglindes and never appeared at the Met again. Of course in 1967 Lorengar, also a
              popular favorite, did the Paminas and I am
              not sure any longer Janowitz was supposed to sing them (presumably the same season as the new Walkuere).

              As to Freischutz, we did have a Freischuetz
              with Lorengar one season only. I had not heard that Janowitz was scheduled for that or some revival but it is possible. In those days we did not have Parterre to enlighten us as to what was upcoming nor probably Met futures -- I had not heard of any other time that Janowitz was expected to come to the Met and did not. And maybe there was not a great clamoring by Met patrons for
              Janowitz to appear at the Met -- Janowitz did sing Donna Anna with the Vienna Opera in Montreal in 1967 with Krips and later another year also with the Vienna Opera in Washington DC with Boehm conducting .

            • southerndoc1

              Thank you.

        • CCorwinNYC

          Thanks, Bill, for your recollections of Janowitz, a favorite of mine whom I’m sorry never to have heard live. However, you erred in saying that she sang the Dyer’s Wife; she sang a single performance of the Empress, Kuchta I believe was the Dyer’s Wife in that performance.

      • Camille

        Thanks armerJ.

        This means, using some superior deductive skills, that she was just a month or so past her 50th birthday when I heard her that once as Agathe at the Wiener Staatsoper.

        Interesting that, as comparing that performance with the one of a certain soprano currently singing in Meistersinger, also just past the 50th mark and, well, there’s just NO comparison at all.

        A rare and lovely singer, not to mention, a lady. Her mention of Haydn symphonies as sleeping aid is one I haven’t tried and certainly shall forthwith!

      • fletcher

        Oh this is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  • manou