Thank you Trottar for this
Schwarzkopf, Gedda, Streich, Krebs, Kunz, et. al, all sparkle here in their roles, even in the dated sound world that EMI was able to present (under Legge and von Karajan) in what was (and still is, really) known as “Glorious”. Everyone here is spot on and authoritatively sung with great style and execution, which means of course “great fun” for us to listen to (and surely they had a grand time recording it also)! Suffice to say, though, that this is one of the very few recordings that remain at the top of the selection list for this wonderful comic operetta, J. Strauss’s crowning achievement. It’s a Keeper, for sure, and well worth seeking out.
Composer: Johann Strauss II
Performer: Elisabeth Schwarzjopf, Nicolai Gedda, Rita Streich
Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra London
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Number of discs: 2
DR-Analysis: DR 15
Size: 1.18 GB
This was the third complete recording of “Die Fledermaus.” The first was made a full century ago in 1907 and the second was a fine performance under the baton of Clemens Krauss in 1950.
The roots of Johann Strauss II’s “Die Fledermaus” stretch back to an 1851 German farce by Robert Benedix, “Die Gefängnis” (“The Prison”). In 1872, that admirable pair of hacks, Meilhac and Halévy, concoctors of libretti for Offenbach and Bizet, converted the old German play into a French vaudeville, “Le réveillon” (“The Revel” or perhaps “The Christmas Eve Party”). In 1873-4, the French text was re-translated back into German for Strauss to set to music, but with all references to Christmas carefully expunged as a sop to respectable Viennese sensibilities. Oddly enough, the one-time Christmas Eve tale has taken firm root in Austria and elsewhere as a New Year’s Eve entertainment.
This originally mono recording was produced by Walter Legge. That fact alone is a guarantee that this was intended to be a sumptuous, top-of-the-line affair.
The production is permeated throughout by the presence of Herbert von Karajan. You WILL hear precision here, ja! You’ll also hear some very, very fast tempi, some would say too fast. Karajan was a Salzburger, not a Viennese; nevertheless, he brings a definite Viennese lilt into the playing of the manifestly non-Austrian band. (Karajan being Karajan, of course, there is occasionally the feeling that all that lilting is marching by at attention.)
This studio production, unlike the Krauss version that preceded it, and at least one stereo version that followed it, comes with spoken dialogue. It’s truncated, but it’s there.
The cast boast a trio of truly stellar luminosity in Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Rita Streich and Nicolai Gedda. On the basis of those three alone, this is arguably the best sung recorded performance of “Die Fledermaus.” Many would say that there is a fourth stellar singer, Erich Kunz, a baritone of immense–and to me wholly inexplicable–popularity in Austria, for whom I normally have no use whatsoever. He is adequate as Dr. Falke.)
For Schwarzkopf, the role of Rosalinde was a step toward a new career path. Hitherto, her part had been Adele. She was shifting from light songbird to a performer of immensely greater depth. Her fans hold her as the exemplar of all Rosalindes. Her detractors regard her Rosalinde as an early example of her over-thought and over-mannered mature style. As for myself, I can’t readily imagine anyone improving on her Roselinde and that only Lotte Lehmann in the past might possibly have matched it.
Rita Streich is a fabulous Adele. She was the leading German coloratura of her era, just as Erna Berger had been before her. Her dramatic range was not wide nor was her voice very large, but Adele suited her perfectly. I can’t name anyone subsequent to this recording who was her match in the part, let alone her better.
Nicolai Gedda, like Richard Tauber before him is a lyric tenor Eisenstein. The role doesn’t go very high, so baritones can and have attempted it. I prefer a tenor, because Act II is vocally unbalanced without the presence of at least one tenor on stage. Gedda is very good, but I think he sings just a little too sweetly to be a perfect Eisenstein. I prefer a tenor with a bent for character roles, a natural-born Monostatos or Herod, such as Julius Patzak.
The rest of the cast is uniformly admirable save for the controversial handling of the part of Prince Orlofsky. Strauss wrote the part for a mezzo-soprano. He is supposed to be bored and jaded young man, hardly more than a boy. Tenor Rudolf Christ sounds like a forty-ish cabaret singer with a serious buzz on, whether from drink, drugs or both, I can’t say. My personal reaction to him is that he coarsens Act II unnecessarily.
This is a famous recording with some unbeatable performances.
Analyzed folder: /96k (Mono) Strauss – Die Fledermaus – Schwarzkopf, Gedda
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR14 -1.58 dB -20.49 dB A1 Ouverture.aif
DR16 -0.75 dB -22.15 dB A2 Act I (Part I).aif
DR15 -0.88 dB -21.14 dB B1 Act I (Conclusion).aif
DR15 -1.14 dB -21.43 dB B2 Act II (Part I).aif
DR15 -0.44 dB -20.58 dB C Act II (Conclusion).aif
DR17 -0.55 dB -22.54 dB D Act III.aif
Number of files: 6
Official DR value: DR15
- Chorus – Philharmonia Chorus
- Composed By – Johann Strauss II
- Conductor – Herbert von Karajan
- Cover [Front] – Design – Enterprise IG
- Engineer [Balance Engineer] – Douglas Larter
- Libretto By – Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy
- Libretto By [Nach/after/après Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halévy] – Carl Haffner, Richard Genée
- Orchestra – Philharmonia Orchestra
- Photography By [Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Rita Streich] – Fayer, Wien
- Photography By [Helmut Krebs] – Koop, Berlin
- Photography By [Herbert Von Karajan] – EMI
- Photography By [Nicolai Gedda] – Douglas Glass
- Photography By [Rudolf Christ] – Maiteny
- Producer – Walter Legge
- Speech [Speaking Part], Performer [Frosch] – Franz Böheim
- Speech [Speaking Part], Performer [Ida] – Luise Martini
- Translated By [English – Spoken Dialogue] – Edward Cushing
- Translated By [English – Sung Text] – H. Raumann
- Translated By [Traduction Française] – Michel Roubinet
- Vocals, Performer [Adele] – Rita Streich
- Vocals, Performer [Alfred] – Helmut Krebs
- Vocals, Performer [Dr. Blind] – Erich Majkut
- Vocals, Performer [Dr. Falke] – Erich Kunz
- Vocals, Performer [Frank] – Karl Dönch
- Vocals, Performer [Gabriel Von Eisenstein] – Nicolai Gedda
- Vocals, Performer [Orlofsky] – Rudolf Christ
- Vocals, Performer [Rosalinde] – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- Phono amp: Audio Research SP15 own tube phono section.
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Audio Research SP15
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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PS: since almost all electronic stereo enanched recondings, that were formerly mono, sound bad, not at the same level of the same mono, I decided to convert these electronic stereo files into mono. Trust in me, it is much much better. These fantastic recordings deserve to be heard in its original mono splendor.