OP2579. ZAÏDE (Mozart), Broadcast Performance, 23 Oct., 1956, Stuttgart, w.Rischner Cond. Stuttgart Radio Orch.; Maria Stader, Fritz Wunderlich, Petre Munteanu, Frithjof Sentpaul, Horst Günter, etc.; Fritz Wunderlich, w.Schuricht Cond.: Die Zauberflöte – Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön – Live Performance, 17 April, 1959. (Germany) Archipel 0489. - 4035122404890
“ZAÏDE (originally, DAS SERAIL) is an unfinished opera, K.344, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1780. Emperor Joseph II, in 1778, was in the process of setting up an opera company for the purpose of performing German opera. One condition required of the composer to join this company was that he should write a comic opera. At Salzburg in 1779 he began work on a new ‘rescue’ opera, ZAÏDE. It contains spoken dialogue, which also classifies it as a Singspiel. Only the arias and ensembles from the first two acts were composed. Missing are an overture and third act.
‘Rescue’ operas were popular at the time, since Muslim pirates were preying on Mediterranean shipping, particularly to obtain slaves for various purposes. This story portrays Zaïde's effort to save her beloved, Gomatz.
Mozart was composing for a German libretto by Johann Andreas Schachtner, set in Turkey, which was the scene of his next, completed rescue Singspiel (DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL). Sadly, he would soon abandon ZAÏDE, to work on IDOMENEO, and never returned to the project. The work was lost until after his death, when Constanze Mozart, his wife, found it in his scattered manuscripts in 1799. The fragments wouldn't be published until 1838, and its first performance was held in Frankfurt on 27 January, 1866, the 110th anniversary of Mozart's birth. ZAÏDE has since been said to be the foundations of a masterpiece, and received critical acclaim. The tender soprano air, ‘Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben’ is the only number that might be called moderately familiar.
ZAÏDE can neither be described as opera buffa or opera seria; it contained elements of both forms, and parallels may be drawn to both genre in Mozart's work. ZAÏDE is also notable as being one of only two dramatic pieces by Mozart to contain melodrama (the other being THAMOS, KING OF EGYPT). Most of the spoken dialogue to ZAÏDE has been lost, though there have been various attempts in modern times to write new dialogue to substitute for Schachtner's lost words.”
“Fritz Wunderlich was discovered for the opera stage at a student production of ZAUBERFLÖTE. At the age of 25 he was engaged at the Württemberg Staatstheater in Stuttgart, one of the most renowned opera houses in Germany at the time. Erich Schäfer was its General Manager, Ferdinand Leitner its conductor, and Wieland Wagner and Günther Rennert created very interesting productions. Wunderlich never broke off relations with Stuttgart completely, not even when he was engaged by the Munich Opera in 1958. Here he was influenced by Rudolf Hartmann, Günther Rennert and Josef Keilberth. In 1959 he made his début at the Salzburg Festival (Henry Morosus in Strauss’ DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU). He soon became the leading lyrical tenor and he was particularly admired in the Mozart repertoire. He also sang Alfredo, Lenski, Palestrina, and the Steersman in DER FLIEGENDE HÖLLANDER. He loved to sing Egk, Liebermann and Orff and was an eminent operetta singer. He sang operettas on stage only at the outset of his career in Freiburg and Stuttgart. He regularly appeared in oratorios and has been unsurpassed as Evangelist. With his fatherly friend Hubert Giesen he worked on Lieder and he soon was very much in demand as a recitalist. His career was one of the most successful after World War II. He died tragically of an accident, a few days before his 36th birthday. It is pointless to speculate what direction he would have taken if he had been granted a longer career. With the natural power of his voice he would have been able to move into heroic regions.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“Fritz Wunderlich spent five years in Stuttgart before he became a world figure.....The voice is young and fresh. There has hardly ever been a more beautiful tenor voice, and his career lasted only ten years because he died young.”
- Donald R. Vroon, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/Aug., 2004
"The word that best describes [Munteanu’s] singing is ‘delicacy’. The voice is a leggiero in the best sense of that category. It is a light tenor, suffused with an attractive, flicker vibrato, and capable of melting sweetness of tone. He reminds one of Schipa….This is singing of rare grace and fastidious taste, and always accomplished with charm and a real ‘face’….To represent this aristocrat of a tenor in your collection is precisely what record collecting is all about."
- Larry Lustig, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2004