C1493. PIERRE BOULEZ Cond. Cleveland S.O., w. Tatiana Troyanos & Zoltán Kelemen: BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE (Bartók), Live Performance, 16 March, 1972, Severence Hall. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-385. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“The Cleveland Orchestra has a long history of performing and promoting contemporary music. From its beginning, the Orchestra has hosted composers from Sergei Rachmaninoff to Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky, and commissioned and/or premiered works from Shostakovich’s opera LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK to concert music for the theremin. One composer who has left an increasingly large mark on our legacy is Béla Bartók (1881-1945), the great Hungarian composer and ethnomusicologist.
The libretto to BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE was written in 1910 by Béla Balázs, a Hungarian poet and roommate of Zoltán Kodály (Kodály was a close artistic ally and friend of Bartók’s). The highly symbolic story depicts Bluebeard and his new bride, Judith, arriving at his dark and dank castle. Judith spies seven locked doors and, desiring to let light and fresh air in, demands the keys to them. One by one, against the protestations of Bluebeard, she opens each door, revealing a series of tableaux all stained with blood. At the opening of the last door, she discovers his past three wives locked inside, whereupon she takes her place with them.
Bartók first wrote BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE in 1911, but reworked it over several years until it reached its final form in 1917. While as a whole the opera is recognizably in the dominant late-romantic style of the turn of the century (very much influenced by his older contemporary Richard Strauss), each door Judith opens unlocks a new musical landscape, from the harsh dissonances and menacing flurries of strings and xylophone depicting Bluebeard’s torture chamber behind the first door, to the immense and climactic chords for the full orchestra depicting the endless expanse of his domain behind the fifth door.
[Yves St Laurent presents] an archival recording of a concert production conducted by Pierre Boulez with Tatiana Troyanos as Judith and Zoltán Kelemen as Bluebeard]."
– Alex Lawler, THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA
“A Karajan favorite and a Bayreuth regular, the Hungarian baritone Zoltán Kelemen was at home on most stages in Northern Europe. His skill as a singing actor is patent from first to last – no character trait escapes his probing mind, no phrase is untouched by some imaginative vocal effect. Best of all, the voice has substantial size and the singing method is sound – in several welcome moments he even allows its timbral appeal to surface.”
- Paul Jackson, START-UP AT THE NEW MET, p.196
“Zoltán Kelemen was a Hungarian bass-baritone who made his début as Kecal in Smetana's BARTERED BRIDE in 1959. He began studying music at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music before leaving Hungary in order to study in Rome. When he left Rome in 1959, he established himself in Germany, first in Augsburg and later in Cologne. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kelemen was a favorite singer of Herbert von Karajan, with whom he recorded FIDELIO in the role of Don Pizarro, DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN as Alberich, BORIS GODUNOV as Rangoni, DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG as Fritz Kothner, THE MERRY WIDOW as Mirko Zeta, and others. Kelemen also recorded the role of Klingsor in PARSIFAL with Georg Solti (1971). At the Bayreuth Festival, Kelemen succeeded Gustav Neidlinger in the role of Alberich, in which he débuted in 1964 and with which he became identified. He notably sang it several times under the direction of Pierre Boulez.”
- Eugene Chadbourne, allmusic.com
“Tatiana Troyanos, an American mezzo-soprano whose enormous repertory covered the full range of operatic history, from Monteverdi to Philip Glass, had a dark, flexible mezzo which was ideal for the wrenching emotionalism of such characters as Carmen, Kundry in Wagner's PARSIFAL, Eboli in Verdi's DON CARLO, Santuzza in Mascagni's CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, and both Purcell's and Berlioz's Didos. And she was prized for the kind of vocal and dramatic agility, as well as the ability to learn difficult roles quickly, that made her a singer of choice for revivals of rarely performed Handel and Mozart works. She also performed in two RING cycles.
Miss Troyanos found few opportunities in New York, but she was a fighter: When the Met offered her small roles, she turned them down….Miss Troyanos made her Met début as Octavian in 1976, and became one of the house's most frequently heard mezzos. Among the many roles she sang there were the Countess Geschwitz in Berg's LULU, Sesto in Mozart's CLEMENZA DI TITO, Charlotte in WERTHER, Adalgisa in NORMA, and her regular showpieces, Carmen, Kundry, Santuzza and the Composer [in ARIADNE]….Bernard Holland wrote in THE TIMES: ‘Ms. Troyanos's mezzo-soprano is intended less as a thing of beauty (which it often is) than as a conduit for the pain, exaltation and rushes of emotion that suffuse her musical personality’."
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 23 Aug., 1993
"Tatiana Troyanos gives an impressive vocal portrait of Judith’s gradual evolution from timidity to strength. That high C at the opening of the fifth door, held for an extra couple of bars, really captures in a single note the distance she has travelled since the beginning."
- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
“Boulez brings out so comprehensively the individuality and variety of the orchestral depictions of what lies concealed behind each door: blood, tears, weaponry, jewels and landscapes are so vividly glowingly and often hauntingly portrayed in sound. The climactic Fifth Door is simply thrilling, accompanied by Troyanos' sustained top C. Her voice is ideal in that she combines a slight tremulousness, suggestive of both fear and sensuality, with a vibrant, burnished warmth of tone that makes Judith a living, breathing woman of immense will and passion. Boulez's somewhat slower speeds create a hypnotic, mesmerizing atmosphere.”
- Ralph Moore, 7 May, 2016