Cher Public

More than words

This week’s star-spangled “Trove Thursday” offers the second crazy-quilt installment of divas in the wrong language featuring—again in alphabetical order—Carmen Balthrop, Inge Borkh, Anita Cerquetti, Marie Collier, Costanza Cuccaro, Lisa Della Casa, Helga Dernesch, Cristina Deutekom, Sabine Devieilhe, Mirella Freni, Leyla Gencer, Reri Grist, Rotraud Hansmann, Marilyn Horne, Gundula Janowitz, Patricia Kern, Marjana Lipovsek, Angela Meade, Tamara Milashkina, Elena Nicolai, Aase Nordmo-Løvberg, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Amy Shuard, Renata Tebaldi, Tamara Wilson and Patricia Wise. 

Handel in English has always worked for me perhaps because I first heard so many of his operas in recordings featuring British performers from the 50s to the 70s. One favorite is Kern whose passionately lucid Ottone aria is done with its full da capo, a startling contrast is Della Casa’s heavy Cleopatra excerpt which is missing its A’ repeat. Hansmann’s Riccardo Primo salutes the pioneering revivals initially in German performed at the Göttingen Handel Festival.

Talky early Venetian opera might seem a likely candidate for translation but operas by Monteverdi and Cavalli seem to rarely be done in English which is why I particularly appreciate Balthrop’s glowing lament from L’Egisto.

London’s English National Opera continues to be the standard-bearer for performing its entire repertoire in English exemplified here by Australian Collier and American Wilson with another one or two in the final grab-bag scheduled in a few weeks.

While most of the divas here are performing in their native tongue it’s instructive to hear Schwarzkopf or Dernesch or Deutekom working in another language with varying degrees of success.

Of course Janowitz sang Marenka in German in Vienna in 1965 but that tradition surprisingly still continues as the Bayersiche Staatsoper mounts a new Die Verkaufte Braut this Christmas with Christiane Karg, Pavel Breslik and Günther Groissböck. While many opera houses have lately been performing Guillaume Tell, several years ago Gianandrea Noseda and his now-former Teatro Regio di Torino mounted Guglielmo Tell from which the Meade excerpt comes.

Borkh’s Iphigénie recitative and aria are not simply Gluck’s in translation but come from Wagner’s edition of the score. Nicolai’s fire-breathing Ortrud curse arrives from the Naples Lohengrin starring Renata Tebaldi that came up in discussions about last week’s post.

At Freni’s final musical appearance at the Met in 2005 she sang “Adieu notre petite table” but the version here is excerpted from a complete performance in Italian 32 years earlier. Did she ever perform Massenet’s heroine in French as I know she did Marguerite in both the original and in translation?

As last week, these new 26 are divided into three programs to facilitate listening. Again a reminder that the source material for these arias varies widely so you might need to adjust the volume sometimes from selection to selection.

Program Four

Renata Tebaldi
Spontini: Fernand Cortez ou La Conquête du Mexique
French -> Italian
Naples   1951

Marjana Lipovsek
Borodin: Knyaz’ Igor
Russian -> German
Munich   1989

Patricia Wise
Thomas: Mignon
French -> German
Vienna   1977

Leyla Gencer
Weber: Der Freischütz
German -> Italian
Trieste   1956

Tamara Wilson
Verdi: La Forza del Destino
Italian -> English
London   2015

Reri Grist
Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Italian -> German
Vienna   1966

Carmen Balthrop
Cavalli: L’Egisto
Italian -> English
Wolf Trap   1977

Amy Shuard
Janacek: Jeji Pastorkyna
Czech -> English
London   1974

Aase Nordmo-Løvberg
Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
German -> Swedish
Stockholm   1956

Program Five

Tamara Milashkina
Verdi: Don Carlos
French -> Russian
Moscow   1973

Marie Collier
Janacek: V?c Makropulos
Czech -> English
London   1965

Anita Cerquetti
Spontini: Agnes von Hohenstaufen
German -> Italian
Milan?   1956

Inge Borkh
Gluck: Iphigénie en Aulide
French -> German
Salzburg   1962

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Mozart:Die Zauberflöte
German -> Italian
Milan   1955

Angela Meade
Rossini:Guillaume Tell
French -> Italian
Torino   2014

Patricia Kern
Handel: Ottone
Italian -> English
London   1971

Gundula Janowitz
Smetana: Prodana Nevesta
Czech -> German
Vienna   1965

Marilyn Horne
Berg:Wozzeck
German -> English
London   1964

Lisa Della Casa
Handel:Giulio Cesare
Italian -> German
Munich   1955

Program Six

Helga Dernesch
R. Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier
German -> English
Glasgow   1971

Sabine Devieilhe
J. Strauss: Die Fledermaus
German -> French
Paris   2014

Costanza Cuccaro
Rimsky-Korsakov: Zolotoy Petushok
Russian -> French
Buenos Aires   1979

Rotraud Hansmann
Handel: Riccardo Primo
Italian -> German
Göttingen   1970

Cristina Deutekom
Saint-Saens: Henry VIII
French -> English
San Diego   1983

Mirella Freni
Massenet: Manon
French -> Italian
Barcelona   1972

Elena Nicolai
Wagner:Lohengrin
German -> Italian
Naples   1954

A final “murmation of 26 more starlings” featuring Joan Sutherland, Galina Vishnevskaya, Teresa Stratas, Josephine Barstow and many others will arrive soon. In the meantime nest Thursday brings just a little comic opera.

Each of the three diva-tracks can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

Over 140 previous “Trove Thursday” podcasts remain available from iTunes for free, or via any RSS reader.