Moser, best known for her ferocious Queen of the Night and steely Donna Anna, might not seem an obvious Lehar heroine but the German soprano recorded a good deal of operetta and regularly performed in Die Fledermaus. She didn’t sing all that often at the Wiener Staatsoper—just six appearances in Die Zauberflöte (she did thrice that many Queens with the Met), but her most frequent role in Vienna was Rosalinde. She appeared in Fledermaus on six different New Year’s Eves at the Staatsoper with a total of 24 outings in that bubbly work there between 1971 and 1983.

Moser’s EMI discography includes highlights from Lustige Witwe with Helen Donath, Siegfried Jerusalem and Hermann Prey recorded around the time of this Milan performance. In addition, there are also selections from Lehár’s Giuditta, Oscar Straus’s Ein Walzertraum, and Kalmán’s Gräfin Mariza, often as second (soprano) banana to Anneliese Rothenberger.

But then there’s this Lehár “lip-sync for your life” fiasco (yikes!):

Claudio Nicolai, her Danilo today, passed away earlier this year at age 91. I had always thought he was Italian but reading his obituary in March I learned he’d been born in Kiel and changed his name when he became a singer. As a longtime member of the Köln Opera, he was one of the pillars of the famed Mozart cycle directed there beginning in the late 1960s by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and conducted by István Kertész and then after his early death by John Pritchard. His colleagues in those Mozart productions often included Julia Varady, Margaret Price, Lucia Popp, Stafford Dean and Carlos Feller.

I was surprised to discover that Nicolai had appeared at the Met—in operetta! Toward the end of his career, at age 58 he debuted in 1987 as Eisenstein for the second season of the Otto Schenk Fledermaus.

Nicolai can also be heard with some of his Köln colleagues in a delightful broadcast from the 1976 Schwetzinger Festival of Cimarosa’s Il Marito Disperato here.

He also starred in the composer’s Il Matrimonio Segreto at the Drottningholm Festival, a performance long available on video opposite his Met Rosalinde, Barbara Daniels.

Next week: Some changes coming to Trove Thursday in 2021!

Lehár: Die Lustige Witwe (with Italian narration)

RAI Milan
25 January 1980

Hanna Glawari — Edda Moser
Valencienne — Helga Thieme
Danilo — Claudio Nicolai
Camille de Rosillon — Gianfranco Pastine
Baron Mirko Zeta — Franco Sioli
Raoul De Saint-Brioche — Gino Sinimberghi
Njegus — Ottavio Francesconi

Narrator — Renzo Palmer

Zagreb Tamburitze Ensemble

Conductor — Lovro Von Matacic

Lustige Witwe can be downloaded by clicking 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.

From Trove Thursday three years ago, Carlos Kleiber conducts Fledermaus with Popp, Janet Perry, Brigitte Fassbaender, Bernd Weikl and Wolfgang Brendel!

In addition, more than 400 other podcast tracks are always available from Apple Podcasts for free, or via any RSS reader. The archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer was up-to-dated this week.