OP0019. SALOME, Live Performance, 8 Feb., 1958, w.Mitropoulos Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Inge Borkh, Ramon Vinay, Blanche Thebom, Mack Harrell, etc; SALOME (beginning with Dance of the Seven Veils), Live Performance, 8 Jan., 1955, w.Mitropoulos Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Christl Goltz, Ramon Vinay, Blanche Thebom, Paul Schoffler, etc. [This is one of the most astonishing live performances of SALOME in the 1950s. Christel Goltz is even more vibrant and stunning than she is on her commercial recording with Clemens Krauss from the same time period, while Mitropoulos is a virile, passionate conductor, capturing the events of this warm, moonlit night in ancient Judea with powerful mystery and intensity. The supporting cast is excellent!]; ELEKTRA (Concert Version), Live Performance, 9 March, 1958, w.Mitropoulos Cond. NYPO; Inge Borkh, Blanche Thebom, Frances Yeend, David Lloyd, Giorgio Tozzi, etc. (France) 3-Arkadia 459. Very Long out-of-print, final copy! - 8011571459038
"In the Met broadcast of 1958, Borkh by this time had her interpretation finalized and doubtless was inspired by the dynamic conducting of Mitropoulos. The supporting cast is quite superior to the 1951 performance, particularly Blanche Thebom's Herodias and Mark Harrell's Jochanaan. This was an exciting afternoon at the Met with well-balanced mono broadcast sound. This 3-CD set also contains Borkh's NYP/Mitropoulos ELEKTRA from 1958, and another SALOME (from just before the 'Dance of the Seven Veils' to the conclusion) with Christel Goltz, Vinay and Thebom, Mitropoulos conducting, a Met broadcast of 1955. This is a fascinating Strauss set well worth owning."
- Zillah D. Akron
“Inge Borkh, a soprano who inhabited with thrilling intensity some of the most hair-raising and daunting roles in the operatic repertoire, [was admired for] passionate portrayals [which] emerged through solid technique and secure, if fiery, tone. Howard Taubman, reviewing her in concert as Elektra at Carnegie Hall in 1958, wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES that she sang ‘with unremitting authority’, adding, ‘The word ‘sang’ is not used by courtesy, as it often has to be with Elektras’. (The role is so arduous that many sopranos practically scream through much of it.)
Ingeborg Simon was born on May 26, 1921, in Mannheim, Germany. Her father was Jewish, and the family fled Germany in 1935, after the rise of the Nazis, settling first in Geneva and then in Vienna.
Though her mother’s side of the family was dotted with singers, she began her education as an actress. After the Anschluss in 1938 she returned to Switzerland, where she encountered the bass Fritz Ollendorff, who recommended she develop her singing voice. She studied in Milan, and made her debut in 1940 in Lucerne, adopting Inge Borkh as her stage name.
Spending the 1940s in Switzerland, she swiftly moved from lighter lyrical roles to heavier ones in operas by Wagner, as well as the formidable Strauss antiheroines who became her calling cards.
In 1951, Ms. Borkh caused a sensation when she appeared in Berlin as Magda Sorel in Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera THE CONSUL, just a year after its debut. She ‘not only emerged with top honors for a brilliant performance’, Kathleen McLaughlin wrote in THE TIMES, ‘but also experienced that rarest of tributes for an actress by ‘stopping the show. The reaction of the audience’, Ms. McLaughlin added, ‘was an ovation of shouts, stamping and hand-clapping that lasted for several minutes’.
That success put Ms. Borkh on the international map, leading to debuts as far afield as London, New York and San Francisco, though her career remained focused on Continental Europe. She made few commercial recordings, but when her live performances were captured on disc they frequently became cult favorites - none more so than a delirious 1957 ELEKTRA at the Salzburg Festival led by Dimitri Mitropoulos, who also conducted her Met debut, as Salome, the next year. [Salome and Elektra], those two fiendishly difficult characters, were the ones for which Ms. Borkh was most renowned. She went on to appear at the Met as Sieglinde in Wagner’s DIE WALKÜRE, the Dyer’s Wife in Strauss’ DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN and Leonore in Beethoven’s FIDELIO.
She retired from opera after a run of ELEKTRA in Palermo, Italy, in 1973, but continued to appear onstage as a monologuist and as a suave, witty cabaret artist; a memorable recording was made of her cabaret show, ‘Inge Borkh Sings Her Memoirs’.
- Zachary Woolfe, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 28 Aug., 2018
"Mitropoulos could lay claim to be the most viscerally exciting in the sense of catching [Salome's] obsessions and neuroses. The conductor was much admired by players at the Met and they gave their all in a performance that seems to sweep along in a single rush of thrilling sound, no holds barred. Christel Goltz's Judaean Princess is familiar from other performances on disc. Caught here in the theatre she is more intense. Paul Schoffler presents a firmly sung, formidable Jochanaan, his tone seemingly tireless."
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, Jan., 2006
"Soprano Christel Goltz was a discovery of conductor Karl Bohm and one of the leading dramatic sopranos of her generation who possessed a rich voice with a brilliant range and intensity. She was particularly associated with the operas of Richard Strauss, especially SALOME and ELEKTRA, and with contemporary operas. Before she became a singer, Goltz had been a dancer and was physically the antithesis of the typical operatic soprano: small, lithe, and energetic. Despite her diminutive stature, Goltz had a big voice that easily made it out to the farthest tier, and it is said that when the character Narraboth killed himself in Strauss' SALOME, that Goltz would leap over his dead body during the Dance of the Seven Veils. It was in dramatic roles such as Salome and Elektra that Goltz made her mark, and by all accounts in performance she was extremely effective at them. The only sizable studio recordings she made - SALOME with Clemens Krauss and ELEKTRA with Georg Solti - were in such roles. Early in her career, Goltz also created roles in works of Carl Orff and Swiss composer Heinrich Sutermeister.
Born in Dortmund, she studied in Munich with Ornelli-Leeb and with Theodor Schenk, whom she later married. After singing small roles, she made her official debut in Fuerth, as Agathe, in 1935. She sang one season in Plauen, before joining the roster of principal sopranos at the Staatsoper Dresden through the invitation of Karl Bohm in 1936. She remained at that house until 1950. She began appearing at both the Berlin State Opera and the Stadtische Oper Berlin in 1947, and at the Munich State Opera and Vienna State Opera in 1950. Beginning in 1951, she also made guest appearances in Salzburg, Milan, Rome, Brussels, Paris, London, Buenos Aires, and sang at the Metropolitan Opera in 1954. Besides SALOME and ELEKTRA, her greatest successes included the title role in JENUFA, Marie in WOZZECK, Die Farberin in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN, Leonora in FIDELIO and Elettra in IDOMENEO. She created the title roles in Carl Orff's ANTIGONE and Rolf Liebermann's PENELOPE. An intense singing-actress with a clear and powerful voice of great range, she also tackled a few Italian roles, notably Turandot."
- Ned Ludd
"In a field long dominated by Europeans, Ms. Thebom was part of the first midcentury wave of American opera singers to attain international careers. Associated with the Met from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, she was praised by critics for her warm voice, attentive phrasing and sensitive acting."
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 28 March, 2010
“Chilean tenor Ramón Vinay began his career as a baritone, later reworking his voice to the tenor range. For a decade or so, Vinay was a force to be reckoned with, a wonderful singing actor who excelled in such roles as Don José, Samson, Canio, and Otello. In the mid-late 1950s, the top notes became ever more precarious for Vinay, and he eventually returned to the baritone repertoire, and even some bass roles. Though Vinay was born in Chile, his father was French, and he studied in France. It’s not surprising then, that Vinay’s French pronunciation and grasp of the Gallic opera style are expert. And what sets Vinay’s José apart from other great exponents of [French repertoire], even legendary French artists, is the Chilean tenor’s arresting combination of a rich, vibrant, baritonal middle register with ringing high notes. It is true that, like many tenors who began as baritones, Vinay has some difficulty in scaling back his voice, particularly in the upper register.”
- Ken Meltzer, FANFARE, March / April, 2018