OP1924. PRODANÁ NEVESTA (Bartered Bride) (Smetana) (in German), Live Performance, 1 May, 1939, w.Beecham Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Hilde Konetzni, Richard Tauber, Fritz Krenn, Marko Rothmüller, Mary Jarred, Heinrich Tessmer, Sabine Kalter, Stella Andreva, etc. (England) 2-Somm 14. Final copy! - 748871251427
“This issue offers…the only complete opera performance on disc in which Tauber partook, so this is a precious document. The popular tenor sounds in splendid form in his aria and in his duets. The sheer exuberance and heady tone of his singing, plus its dollop of Tauber-ish sentiment, are all commendable. The German translation turns him into Hans rather than the Jenik of the original, but who cares when the results are so winning. He is partnered by Konetzni, then at the peak of her powers. She is a Marfenka of fresh tone, often exquisite phrasing (especially in her last-act aria), and generally attractive presentation. Krenn is a well-routined Kecal, taking many liberties with notes and rhythm but definitely a presence nevertheless. Tessmer exaggerates Vasek's shyness, very much the character rather than the lyric tenor. British singers of the day fill most of the minor rôles, and Rothmüller as Krusina makes his Covent Garden début. Rothmiiller provides a note in which he suggests that Beecham wasn't over-familiar with the score. That's as may be, but he certainly conducts the Overture and dances with tremendous brio and the remainder of the music with loving care. The sound comes and goes; there are occasional `drop-outs' and bad joins, but they hardly matter on what is after all a historic document.”
- GRAMOPHONE, Feb., 1992
“Hilde Konetzni made her début in Gablonz, as Sieglinde, in 1929, and sang in Prague from 1932 to 1938. In 1936, she made her début at the Vienna State Opera and the Paris Opéra, as Donna Elvira. She appeared at the Royal Opera House in London 1938-39, returning in 1947, and at La Scala, in 1950, as Sieglinde with Furtwängler. A stylish singer, she possessed a voice of great beauty, other notable rôles included; Agathe, Isolde, Brünnhilde, Elisabeth, the Marschallin, Leonora, Chrysothemis, etc. She was very popular in Vienna, and continued singing small rôles until the 1970s. She had a sister, Anny Konetzni, who was also a soprano noted for Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss rôles.”
“Richard Tauber remains, for many, the quintessential Viennese operetta tenor. As well as a performer, he was a composer, his works displaying his understanding of the operetta and song genres if not the genius of a Lehár or Johann Strauss, Jr. He did not have a perfect voice; his Bs and Cs were labored and his habit of using falsetto to reach the rest of the upper range, while producing some ravishing results, could become mannered and overly applied. That said, his graceful charm of expression and lyrical warmth made him one of the most beloved singers of his time.
He made his opera début at the Chemnitz Neues Stadt-Theater in March, 1913, as Tamino in Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE. He was almost immediately given a five-year contract by the Dresden Opera where he became the established lyric tenor. As his career continued to develop throughout Germany, he was strongly associated with Mozart; when he appeared as Tamino, Mozart's opera was often jokingly renamed DIE TAUBERFLÖTE. Astonishingly, however, his 1915 Berlin Opera début was as Bacchus in Richard Strauss' ARIADNE AUF NAXOS (a role that many heroic tenors find incredibly taxing), sung with 48 hours' notice and only one rehearsal! Tauber became known for his fast learning and musicianship, and was often called upon for such emergencies. He once took over as conductor for a tour with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In the 1920s, he began to specialize in operetta and song, and became best known for those roles and for recitals, recordings, and film work. Lehár wrote the operettas PAGANINI, DER ZAREWITSCH, FRIEDERIKE and THE LAND OF SMILES with him in mind, and in each, made sure to include a showpiece (soon known as the ‘Tauberlied’) for his talents. In 1931, he made his debut in England at the Drury Lane Theater in Lehár's THE LAND OF SMILES, and he remained in England for fear of Nazi persecution (he was of Jewish extraction), becoming a naturalized citizen in 1940. Like most singers, his career was interrupted by the war, but he made his operatic farewell in 1947 as Don Ottavio in Mozart's DON GIOVANNI. Though already seriously ill with the lung cancer that was to kill him the next year, according to critics and documented by air check recordings, it would have been a creditable performance for a singer in the best of health.
Tauber owed much of his fame to his then-prodigious 725 recordings, rivaled only by the recorded output of John McCormack. Tauber's catalog unquestionably displays the most variety, including songs by Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin, arias and duets from Verdi's IL TROVATORE and AIDA, Offenbach's THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, German lieder, and even the Neapolitan and Irish songs in which Caruso and McCormack were the main exponents. He also appeared in several movies, including a film of Leoncavallo's PAGLIACCI, Blossom Time, Heart's Desire, and Forbidden Music. Today, his operetta OLD CHELSEA (which he wrote to celebrate his naturalization as an English citizen) is still sometimes performed.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
“Sabine Kalter had a powerful and wide ranging contralto voice, combined with a strong dramatic ability. I find her especially fine in Aïda and TROVATORE, in which she sings with a superb Richard Tauber who has an ideal voice for Radames and Trovatore.
Other highlights of Kalter’s discography are the Wesendonck-Lieder. Her ‘Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer’ is one of the most beautiful and intimate recordings I have heard. The sound file shows not only her dramatic power but also her capability of singing with inner emotion.
Sabine Kalter was born in Jaroslaw, Galicia, and studied singing at the Vienna Musical Academy. She was engaged by Rainer Simons, director at the Volksoper, who had an unerring instinct in his search for new talents. Sabine Kalter made her début there in 1911. Two years later, she was already contracted to the Stadttheater Hamburg (State Opera) as principal contralto, where she had to replace the famous Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann , and was expected to continue the great tradition in the contralto- and mezzo ‘fach’. In 1919 she married Max Aufrichtig. Her roles included not only Waltraute, Ortrud, Fricka, Herodias and Brangäne, but also Amneris, Lady Macbeth, Dalila, Orfeo, Marina, Fidès and Carmen. She took part in a number of first performances: Korngold’s DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE (1927), Humperdinck’s Königskinder (1911), Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (1928), Hindemith’s NEUES VOM TAGE (1929), Wolf-Ferrari’s I Gioelli di Madonna and d’Albert’s Liebesketten. Within a short time Sabine Kalter became one of the most popular singers at the Hamburg State Opera and stayed there from 1915 to 1935. Her international breakthrough began in the early 1920s. The artist was an accomplished recitalist and concert singer, appearing in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Austria. After a highly successful career at Hamburg, when the Nazis came to power, she was obliged to leave Germany in 1935, but she managed to continue her career at Covent Garden for another four years. She sang Brangäne opposite Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Herbert Janssen and Emmanuel List under Fritz Reiner [above]. Other performances included Fricka, Ortrud, Háta in Smetana’s Prodaná Nevesta and Herodias. In 1939, the artist decided to retire from the opera stage, concentrating on concert and recital work and becoming a singing coach. Her last concert appearance took place at Hamburg in 1950. Sabine Kalter died on 1 September, 1957, in London.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
"Rothmüller's voice, in common with all the greatest singers, has an immediately recognizable quality....After listening to Rothmüller's] brilliantly compelling performances, one can only feel grateful that they have now been preserved for posterity."
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, 1991