OP2581. DIE MEISTERSINGER, Live Performance, 1961, w.Krips Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Josef Greindl, Wolfgang Windgassen, Theo Adam, Karl Schmitt-Walter, Ludwig Weber, Gerhard Stolze, Elisabeth Grümmer, etc. (E.U.) 4-Myto 00315. - 0801439903159
NB: We have received the following note from a buyer of this performance: "the performance billed as Bayreuth 1961 conducted by Krips, appears to be a mixture of performances. The Sachs in the last part of Act 1 (and Act 2) is Neidlinger, I'm not sure who the Walther is, but it's not Windgassen...I'm guessing it's from the 1957 performance, and thus Geisler. It seems to revert back to 1961 for Act 3, at least what I've heard of it, so it appears that Myto incorrectly identified CD 2."
- W. D. K.
“The most important singer of the German Heldentenor repertory in the 1950s and 1960s, Wolfgang Windgassen employed his not-quite-heroic instrument, believable physique, and considerable musical intelligence to forge memorable performances on-stage and in the recording studio.
The tenor made his début as Alvaro in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO at Pforzheim in 1941. In 1945, he joined the Württembergisches Staatstheater in Stuttgart, steadily moving from lyric rôles to more heroic parts; he remained a singer there until 1972. Upon making his début in the first postwar season at Bayreuth in 1951, he came to international attention. His Parsifal, growing from uncomprehending innocence to maturity and service, was a moving portrayal and was recorded live by Decca Records. Windgassen became indispensable at the Bayreuth Festival, excelling as Lohengrin, the two Siegfrieds, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. There, he earned the respect and devotion of the three leading dramatic sopranos of the age: Martha Mödl, Astrid Varnay, and Birgit Nilsson. Elsewhere, Windgassen made positive impressions at La Scala (where he débuted as Florestan in 1952), Paris (Parsifal in 1954), and Covent Garden, where he appeared as Tristan in 1954. Although regarded by English critics as somewhat light of voice for Wagner's heaviest tenor rôles, his lyric expression and dramatic aptness were wholly admired. The Metropolitan Opera briefly heard him as Siegmund beginning in January 1957 and as Siegfried. Windgassen did not return to America until 1970, when he sang Tristan to the Isolde of Nilsson at San Francisco. Beginning that same year, he turned to stage direction. Among Windgassen's finest recordings are his Bayreuth PARSIFAL, captured with a superb cast under Knappertsbusch's direction, his 1954 Bayreuth LOHENGRIN under Jochum, his SIEGFRIEDs under both Böhm at Bayreuth and in the studio with Solti, and his Bayreuth TRISTAN with Böhm conducting and Nilsson as his Isolde.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Josef Greindl was considered as one of the greatest Wagner singers of his time. He had a powerfully expressive bass voice, whose clarity of declamation exhibited his stylistic projecting ability. Josef Greindl was equally convincing in dramatic and Buffo rôles. He also excelled in concert singing.”
- Aryeh Oron
“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 Wagner’s DIE MEISTERSINGER.
At a time when, for many operagoers, the singing was the only thing that mattered, Mr. Adam brought an actor’s 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. Adam’s 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 Weber’s 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 Berg’s WOZZECK. Philip Borg-Wheeler, reviewing a 1973 recording of that opera for Music Web International, said of Mr. Adam’s performance that ‘we have here arguably the most magnificent Wozzeck on record’.
- Neil Genzlinger, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 15 Jan., 2019
“Theo Adam was one of the leading bass-baritones of the post-World War II era, particularly well known for his Wagnerian rôles. His professional début was at the Dresden State Opera in 1949, which led to a guest appearance in the 1952 Bayreuth Festival, which was also the year he joined the Berlin State Opera. Despite the handicap of living in the Soviet bloc, Adam was selected in 1963, after a few appearances in smaller rôles, to sing the rôle of Wotan in Wagner's RING at Bayreuth in 1963. He later sang the other major bass-baritone and bass rôles in many Wagner operas, including Hans Sachs, King Mark, Amfortas, and the Dutchman. Adam was also well known for the rôles of Baron Ochs, Pizzaro, Wozzeck, King Philip, La Roche, Don Giovanni, and other important parts.
Adam appeared at the world's most prestigious venues, with débuts at the Metropolitan in 1963, Covent Garden in 1967, and the 1972 Salzburg Festival. He was also a highly esteemed oratorio singer. In addition to singing the Bach Passions and several cantatas, he was exceptional in the title rôle of Mendelssohn's ELIJAH.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“In comparison with her contemporaries, Grümmer was a greatly under-recorded soprano. Since she possessed an attractive, cream-toned voice, a splendid florid technique, and a smooth legato delivery allied to a pleasing stage presence, it is curious that she was so neglected by the major record companies.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May / June, 2011
"Elisabeth Grümmer was one of a wonderful constellation of German lyric sopranos who dominated the Central European opera houses and concert halls in the 1950s and '60s."
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April, 2010
"Elisabeth Grümmer was one of the best German lyric sopranos of the 1950s and 60s….the listener will be struck by [her voice’s] beauty, its evenness and smoothness over its entire range. Grümmer was a stylish singer who colored her voice well and gave convincing portrayals of her operatic heroines."
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2005
"[Weber's] voice was of fine quality, with an even scale and extensive range. [Weber’s] long-breathed legato line, splendid, florid technique, and dramatic gifts ensure that all the excerpts on this very full CD give huge pleasure. What they cannot show is the sheer brilliance and size of the voice. He could astonish the listener with the power of his forte and then switch to a beguiling pianissimo, which carried easily to the farthest parts of the opera house. It comes as no surprise to learn that early in his career he sang several performances with the incomparable baritone, Mattia Battistini, who remained his idol and model all his life….For those who enjoy superlative bass singing, this is a ‘must’.
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2007