OP1738. DIE MEISTERSINGER, Live Performance, 4 Sept., 1955 [the re-opening performance of the Staatsoper unter den Linden], w.Konwitschny Cond. Berlin Staatsoper Ensemble; Josef Herrmann, Erich Witte, Gerhard Unger, Heinrich Pflanzl, Theo Adam, Ruth Keplinger, etc. (E.U.) 4-Walhall 0234. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 4035122652345
Theo Adam, a German opera singer whose varied career spanned the second half of the last century and who made a particularly strong impression internationally with his Wagnerian roles, was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany beginning in the early 1950s, and in February 1969 he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in one of his signature roles, Hans Sachs in Wagners DIE MEISTERSINGER.
At a time when, for many operagoers, the singing was the only thing that mattered, Mr. Adam brought an actors sensibility as well as a fine voice to the stage. Mr. Adam has developed the vocal and histrionic aspects of his art with equal care and success, Allen Hughes wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES in reviewing Mr. Adams Met debut. His voice is relatively light in weight and texture, and he sang here with a smoothness and flexibility that basses do not invariably possess. Mr. Adam is not a tall man, he has not let himself get fat, and he moves lithely, Mr. Hughes added. Indeed his movements, so splendidly scaled and timed, made his acting a joy to follow.
By the time he retired in 2006 he had appeared in operas and recitals all over the world. For his final performance, that November at the Semperoper in Dresden, he reprised the role of the hermit in Carl Maria von Webers DER FREISCHÜTZ, which he had first performed at the same house in 1949.
Mr. Adam joined the rosters of both Bayreuth and the Berlin State Opera in 1952. He first performed the role of Wotan in the Wagner RING operas in 1963, and in 1967 he took his Wotan to the Royal Opera House in London. Metropolitan Opera audiences got to see him as Wotan in DIE WALKÜRE in 1969, just after his Met debut as Hans Sachs.
Mr. Adam was also known for numerous other roles, including the title character in Alban Bergs WOZZECK. Philip Borg-Wheeler, reviewing a 1973 recording of that opera for Music Web International, said of Mr. Adams performance that we have here arguably the most magnificent Wozzeck on record.
- Neil Genzlinger, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 15 Jan., 2019
Franz Konwitschny (1901-62) was a large and rotund fellow, a fine musician who is less known internationally than he should have been, mostly because he rarely ventured outside the communist controlled east European countries. He was for many years director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and his recordings with them include a fine stereo set of the Beethoven symphonies. Actually, he was a powerful Beethoven conductor, and his Eroica with the Staatskapelle Dresden is surely among the best of the 20th Century. He was a fine opera conductor also, and made excellent recordings of Wagners FLYING DUTCHMAN, TANNHÄUSER and TRISTAN."
- John P. McKelvey, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2012
Almost forgotten a generation after his death, Franz Konwitschny, director of both the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and the Berlin State Opera from 1949 until his death in 1962, was much the finest and by far the most successful East German conductor of his time. Konwitschny didn't seek to match the glamour of Herbert von Karajan, his West German opposite; he was interested in something else entirely. Born in 1901 at the height of German romantic idealism, Konwitschny came of age in the milieu of post-War modernism, and in his maturity the one influence tempered the other so that the classic Konwitschny performances were clean and lucid but enormously concentrated and unbearably intense. For latter-day [listeners] who know best Karajan's more charismatic recordings, Konwitschny
will clear the mind, cleanse the palette and sooth the spirit.
- James Leonard, allmusic.com
"Herrmann was a noted heldenbariton with a big, bright, and somewhat metallic voice that was powerful up to high A, and a dramatic temperament that made for intense, committed characterizations."
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April., 2006