Karajan: Strauss – Die Fledermaus. Gala Performance (2 CD, APE)

Karajan: Strauss - Die Fledermaus. Gala Performance (2 CD, APE)
Karajan: Strauss – Die Fledermaus. Gala Performance (2 CD, APE)

Composer: Johann Strauss Jr.
Performer: Wiener Staatsopernchor
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 589 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

Eisenstein – Waldemar Kmentt
Rosalinde – Hilde Gueden
Adele – Erika Koth
Falke – Walter Berry
Frank – Eberhard Wächter
Alfred – Giuseppe Zampieri
Prinz Orlofsky – Regina Resnik
Dr. Blind – Peter Klein
Frosch – Erich Kunz
Ida – Hedwig Schubert

Disc: 1
01. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 1. Da schreibt meine Schwester Ida
02. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 1. Nein, mit solchen Advokaten
03. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 1. Komm mit mir zum Souper
04. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 1. Trinke, Liebchen, trinke schnell
05. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 1. Nein, nein, ich zweifle gar nicht mehr
06. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 2. Ein Souper heut’ uns winkt
07. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 2. Ach, meine Herr’n und Damen
08. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 2. Mein Herr Marquis
09. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 2. Dieser Anstand so manierlich
10. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 2. Im Feuerstrom der Reben

Disc: 2
01. Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow), operetta: Vilja-Lied
02. Domino: Domino
03. My Fair Lady, musical: I could have danced all night
04. Passione for voice & orchestra
05. Lullaby, for voice & orchestra
06. Il Bacio, for voice & piano (or orchestra)
07. Summertime, song (from Porgy and Bess, opera)
08. Anything You Can Do, song (from ‘Annie Get your Gun’)
09. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 2. Gala. Genug! damit, genug!
10. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 3. Entr’acte
11. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 3. Herr Direktor! Wo is er denn?
12. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 3. Spiel’ich die Unschuld vom Lande
13. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 3. Ich stehe voll Zagen
14. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 3. O Fledermaus, o Fledermaus

The Best of the Best!

This “Studio Recording” of Die Fledermaus was made in the Sofiensaal, in Vienna, in 1960. The respected producer John Culshawe(Culshaw) and Christopher Reaburn, were in charge. Culshaw was also the producer of Solti’s Ring Cycle superlative recording which had begun in 1958 and required seven years to complete. The “Gala” part of this Die Fledermaus performance is possibly unequaled by any other effort that has been recorded or videoed. We have here about a dozen of the best at the time; from Teresa Berganza at age 25 to Giulietta Simionato at age 50. Indeed the great Jussi Bjorling, included here, died suddenly at age 49 this same year some months after this production had been completed. Price was 33, Sutherland was 34, Tabaldi was 38, Nilsson was 42, Corena was 44, del Monaco was 45, and Ljuba Welitsch was 47. Nilsson, of course, was one of the anchors of the aforementioned Ring Cycle as Brunhilde and Dame Joan Sutherland also participated in that production as The Woodbird. Here Ettore Bastianini also appeared in the “Gala” singing with Simionato and Felix Lavilla, the husband of Teresa Berganza, played the piano for her rendition of a Basque folk song. The four principles of the opera itself; Waldemar Kmentt, Hilde Gueden, Walter Berry and Regina Resnik are outstanding. And Strauss’s music is thrilling under the baton of Herbert Von Karajan. Production values and sound reproduction on this recording are excellent from the softest sections to the many energetic rhythms. This is simply an outstanding production!

Probably the best recording of this most joyful of operettas

Contrary to Mr Sheppard’s review on Amazon.com, I think that the gala performances alone are worth the price of this recording; where else can you hear such a concentration of talent from 1960?

Sutherland – superb in her finest, youthful voice; Bjorling, still patrician of tone only three months before his untimely death caused by a heart condition exacerbated by his drinking problem (though you’d never guess it from his singing); Del Monaco tearing a Neapolitan to tatters with his clarion voice; Nilsson blasting her way through “I could have danced all night” to a terrific climax; Leontyne Price’s incongruous and beautiful performance of “Summertime” – plus that absurd duet by Simionato and Bastianini in execrable English (despite their compliments to each other on their linguistic abilities) – it’s all great fun and wholly in the spirit of this joyous performance; don’t take it too seriously or you’ll miss the point.

Apart from all that, I agree with Mr Sheppard that this is a wonderful performance, though I still have an affection for the historic 1950 Clemens Krauss recording (also with the superb Hilde Gueden) and the earlier 1955 Karajan. The recording history of this piece has been blessed; you cannot go wrong with any of them. The cast of this one features a team of seasoned pros with lovely voices and the style engrained in their souls; the sheer vitality and joie de vivre of the music pulse through the whole performance – never mind Karajan’s reputation for high seriousness; he really captures the fun of a great occasion.

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