OP2188. ELEKTRA – Final Scene, w.Beecham Cond. Royal Phil. Ensemble; Erna Schlüter, Ljuba Welitsch, Paul Schöffler & Walter Widdop; ARIADNE AUF NAXOS – Final Scene, w.Beecham Cond. Royal Phil. Ensemble; Maria Cebotari, Karl Friederich & Margaret Field-Hyde. (Germany) Naxos 8.111372, recorded 1947. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. Final Sealed Copy! - 747313337224
“...these recordings are truly historic, so grimly, indeed sickeningly realistic and strongly projected, in the case of ELEKTRA, as to blow away all competition, possibly even from Böhm and Reiner. The singing cast is uniformly splendid, one notch above first-rate, and Beecham’s leadership is likewise inspired. The dying screams of Klytemnestra (likely done by Ms Schlüter) are really ghastly….I can testify to its sonic excellence…by Mark Obert-Thorn….”
- John P. McKelvey, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2011
"Sourced from American RCA Victor shellac pressings for ELEKTRA, and HMV test pressings for ARIADNE AUF NAXOS which were unpublished on 78rpm, this Naxos Historical album celebrates the enormous mutual admiration between Richard Strauss and Sir Thomas Beecham. Beecham had introduced ELEKTRA to London in 1910 and presented the first version of ARIADNE in London three years later. The recordings heard here of the final scenes from each opera were made almost three decades later following performances given in the presence of the composer. For the recording of ELEKTRA, Beecham was fortunate to be to able call upon the renowned interpreters of Strauss’ music - Erna Schlüter, Ljuba Welitsch and Paul Schöffler - who were appearing with the Vienna State Opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Maria Cebotari was widely admired for the freshness and charm of her singing and her stage presence. She created the role of Aminta in Strauss' DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU. Karajan made some 78rpm recordings with her, including an aria from Johann Strauss' DER ZIGEUNERBARON and Ariadne's 'Es gibt ein Reich'."
- Richard Osborne, CONVERSATIONS WITH VON KARAJAN, p.114
“As we can learn from her repertory, Maria Cebotari was an extraordinarily versatile singer. She was often considered a ‘predecessor’ to Maria Callas. Indeed, the two sopranos had a great deal in common. Both were true artists of great musicality and totally committed to their art. Both were utterly ‘reliable’, never missing an entry or a rehearsal. They would never come along half-knowing the music, and they could be entrusted with something new and it would be learnt quickly and intelligently. No wonder that the two Marias were loved by all great conductors. With the underlying darkness of her soprano, a pronounced vibrato and brilliance at the top of her range - but above all with the intelligence, intensitiy and sheer energy, she did justice to every rôle. She was one of the very few singers who succeeded in lyrical, dramatic and coloratura parts….Four composers were essential for her short career: Mozart, Strauss, Verdi and Puccini. In 1935, she sang the part of Aminta in the world première of Richard Strauss' DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU under Karl Böhm at Dresden Semper Opera House. Strauss advised her to move to Berlin, and in 1936 she joined the Berlin State Opera, where she was a prima donna until 1946. That year, she sang Susanna in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI, and Sophie in DER ROSENKAVALIER for Dresden Semper Opera Company's performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. From then on, she appeared at many great opera houses including Vienna Staatsoper and at La Scala.
Richard Strauss described her as ‘the best all-rounder on the European stage; never late and never cancels’. Herbert von Karajan, during a BBC interview decades after her death, said she was the greatest Madama Butterfly he had ever conducted.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile