OP0082. JENUFA (Janacek) (Sung in Czech), Live Performance, 30 March, 1988, Carnegie Hall; JENUFA (Janacek) (Sung in Czech), Live Performance, 30 March, 1988, Carnegie Hall; Eve Queler Cond. Opera Orchestra of New York, w. Gabriela Benackova, Leonie Rysanek, Wieslaw Ochman, Peter Kazaras, etc. (Sweden) 2-BIS 449. [A stunning performance . . . in equally stunning sound! The Carnegie Hall acoustic is remarkable!] Final Copy! - 7318594494505
“While best known for her accomplishments in Czech music, particularly that of Dvorák and Smetana, Benackova has performed in nearly all the lirico-spinto soprano roles in the Italian repertoire. She has earned equal praise for her musicianship and vocal beauty, though she is occasionally accused of bringing a non-Italianate coolness to those roles. She has also sung the more lyric Wagner roles, including Eva and Senta.
Her opera début was at the National Theater in Prague, as Natasha in Prokofiev's WAR AND PEACE, in 1970. In 1975, she sang her first Jenufa there; like Dvorák's Rusalka, that role has since become one of her signatures. Jenufa was also the vehicle for her 1978 Vienna State Opera début. In 1979, she made her Covent Garden début as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's EUGEN ONEGIN. She sang the title role of Smetana's LIBUSE for the re-opening of the National Theater in Prague in 1983. Her Met début was as Kát'a Kabanová in 1991, which she also recorded with Sir Charles Mackerras in 1997. She also continued her career as a concert artist in works by Dvorák, Janácek, and Mahler. Benackova has been involved in the restoration of Gustav Mahler's birthplace at Kaliste in the Czech Republic.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
"Rysanek is, first and foremost, an operatic actress. It is this quality that has led to her remarkable success. In everything she does, one senses total involvement with the dramatic aspects of the role. Without knowing whether this is true, I suspect she immerses herself completely in the libretto before studying out any of the vocal problems. An actress in the grand manner does not bother very much whether a role is in the creation of a German or an Italian librettist; her concern is with the flesh and blood of the woman being portrayed….Though the drama comes first, Rysanek has given the matter of voice a great deal of careful thought. She has a beautiful instrument to think about, and she wants to keep it that way."
- Alan Rich, OPERA NEWS, 6 March, 1965
“Leonie Rysanek was both a great actress and a great singer – ‘the singer with a thousand faces’. For decades she sang some of the most difficult rôles of the German and Italian repertories with dramatic intensity and a large vocal tone - her rapturous Sieglinde which she first sang in Bayreuth in 1951 is still much talked about, and there can be no question that she was (among many other rôles) memorable as Senta, Leonore, Elizabeth, Desdemona, Kundry, Donna Anna, Aďda and Arabella. In her later years, she took on the darker- toned character rôles of the repertories and triumphed in them as well. She was beloved in New York and Vienna where she spent most of her professional time and in every city where there was a great opera house. Altogether, she gave 3000 performances and sang 50 roles. It is said that while Vienna was to Ms. Rysanek a very special place (over 500 performances at the Staatsoper from 1950 on) , the Metropolitan Opera in New York was her operatic home. It was here where on 5 February, 1959 she first fascinated New York audiences as Lady Macbeth, a rôle that was to have been sung by Maria Callas. By all accounts it was a legendary performance, marking the beginning of an enduring love affair with MET audiences. After 300 performances, she gave her farewell performance at the MET on 2 January, 1996 as the Duchess in Tchaikovsky's QUEEN OF SPADES after which, amidst a tumultuous ovation which she shared with her husband Ernst-Ludwig Gausmann, she thanked the audience for the love and devotion they had shown her through the years. This scene repeated itself the following August at the Salzburg Festival House - after her farewell performance as Klytemnestra in Strauss' ELEKTRA, she thanked an adoring audience for a beautiful life, as indeed it was.”
- Dr. Peter Dusek, FAREWELL TO A VIENNESE DIVA