OP0913. DON GIOVANNI, Live Performance, 12 July, 1973, München, w.Sawallisch Cond. Bayerischen Staatsoper Ensemble; Ruggero Raimondi, Stafford Dean, Hermann Winkler, Margaret Price, Julia Varady, Lucia Popp, etc.; Zauberflöte – Excerpts, Broadcast Performance, 17 Jan., 1973, w.Sawallisch Cond. RAI Ensemble, Roma; Werner Hollweg, Edith Mathis, Zsiszlava Donat, Hermann Prey, Gerhard Unger, etc. (Slovenia) 3-Myto 053.313. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 608974503130
“Wolfgang Sawallisch, one of the last of the old-school German conductors, who led the Philadelphia Orchestra for nearly a decade and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich for two decades before that, embodied the German type of the ‘Kapellmeister’ in the best sense: a man steeped in music, who knew every note of every score he conducted (often from memory), who was a supportive accompanist as well as an informed interpreter and who understood how to train, develop and lead an orchestra. Never flashy, even somewhat understated, he was, at his best, insightful and illuminating.
While Mr. Sawallisch was renowned throughout Europe, he might have remained little known to American audiences had the Philadelphia Orchestra not tapped him to take over as music director in 1993. When he arrived at age 70, he underwent a veritable renaissance, evidently enjoying a new freedom, both artistic and political — far from the political squabbling that had increasingly overshadowed his last years in Munich. ‘The last 10 years, with the Philadelphia Orchestra’, he said in 2006, ‘were really the top years of my symphonic life’. His time in Philadelphia was therefore a particularly happy ending to his career. Against some expectations, the reserved, intensely private German thrived in America, and the orchestra responded warmly to him.”
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Feb., 2013
“Julia Varady is a highly respected soprano who has had a major European career and considerable success elsewhere. She comes from a fabled part of Rumania that used to belong to Hungary and is home to most of Rumania's ethnic Hungarian population. In 1970 she joined the company of the Frankfurt-am-Main Opera House at the invitation of its music director, Christoph von Dohnányi and continued to expand her already large repertory, singing Margarethe in Gounod's FAUST, Donna Elvira in DON GIOVANNI, Antonio in TALES OF HOFFMAN, and the Young Maiden in a historic performance of Schönberg's MOSES UND ARON, among other parts. In guest appearances in Cologne she had a large success as Violetta in TRAVIATA. She spent the 1972 - 1973 season with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich following a highly successful appearance in the Munich Festival as Vitellia in Mozart's CLEMENZA DI TITO. As a member of that company she had a triumphal portrayal of Elettra in the same composer's IDOMENEO and added Senta in FLYING DUTCHMAN and Aïda to her repertory. During those same years she sang with the leading baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, to whom she was married in 1974.
By now Varady was appearing at the major international operatic venues and continuing to add important roles to her repertory. She sang at the Edinburgh Festival, Salzburg Festival and other international summer events. Her notable débuts included the Deutsche Opera Berlin in 1978 (Countess in NOZZE DI FIGARO), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1982, AÏDA), Metropolitan Opera (1977 - 1978 season as Donna Elvira), and in the newly opened Bastille Opéra in Paris in 1995 (Abigaille in Verdi's NABUCCO).
She sang all the major roles in operas of Mozart and Verdi, several Puccini and Strauss roles (Composer, ARABELLA, and the Empress in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN), and such other parts as Orfeo and Alceste in Gluck's operas, Yaroslavna in PRINCE IGOR, Micaëla in CARMEN, Handel's ARIODANTE, Adele in Rossini's LE COMTE ORY and the title role in his CENERENTOLA, Beethoven's LEONORA, and the Tchaikovsky roles of Tatyana in EUGEN ONÉGIN and Lisa in QUEEN OF SPADES. She has had particular success in Bartók's BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE singing opposite Fischer-Dieskau. The husband and wife team also scored a major success in Aribert Reiman's opera LEAR, with Fischer-Dieskau in the title role and Varady as Cordelia, in Spontini's OLYMPIE, and in Halévy's LA JUIVE.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Though Mr. Prey's voice was a mellow, lyric baritone, he sang with such focused sound and robust projection that he enjoyed an active career in opera. He avoided the heavier Verdi roles, but excelled at Mozart, Gluck, Rossini, and lighter Strauss and Wagner roles. One of his great achievements was Beckmesser in Wagner's MEISTERSINGER, which he sang at the Met in 1993. To his characterization of a town clerk in medieval Nuremberg, typically portrayed as a scheming buffoon, Mr. Prey brought an emotional complexity and light-on-the-feet comic grace that made Beckmesser endearing.
Mr. Prey's voice was ideally suited to lieder, and he left a large and important discography, including songs by Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, Mahler, and Carl Loewe, a neglected 19th-century composer whom Mr. Prey championed. Commenting on Mr. Prey's 1985 recording of Schubert's WINTERREISE with the pianist Philippe Bianconi, The New York Times critic Bernard Holland wrote: ‘This is Schubert singing that does not twist sound for pictorial or dramatic effect but instead creates, with unusual musical clarity and purity of tone, a narrative voice which, though concerned and moved, tells the story first and lives it only indirectly’."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 July, 1998