OP2823. DIE MEISTERSINGER, Live Performance, 1951, w.von Karajan Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Otto Edelmann, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Hans Hopf, Gerhard Unger, Frederick Dalberg, Erich Kunz, Heinrich Pflanzl, Gerhard Stolze, Ira Malaniuk, Werner Faulhaber, etc. (Italy) 4-Myto 022.H068. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 8014399500685
“Even in Wagner’s day, doubts were raised about the rampant chauvinism of Sachs’s final panegyric to German art, although it struck a chord with German audiences in the run-up to the Franco-German War of 1870 and its aftermath. Unfortunately DIE MEISTERSINGER was the saddest victim of Adolf Hitler’s Wagnerian obsession. During the 1930s Nuremberg was the scene of the Nazi rallies and the opera was a rallying cry for the unhealthiest kind of nationalism. Bayreuth itself, where Hitler was an honoured guest, became besmirched by association. When the Bayreuth Festival reopened in 1951, the new régime of Wagner’s grandsons set out to confront this unpleasant legacy head-on and the brave decision was taken to program DIE MEISTERSINGER. Even though some former Nazis were involved in the production, the goal of rebirth was largely achieved. We owe it to Walter Legge and his team that this production was recorded for posterity. It was a triumph for the usual Bayreuth teamwork and no individual performance stood out, except perhaps for the cohesive effect achieved by the still young conductor, Herbert von Karajan, who at this stage of his career had not yet developed the emphasis on legato which was to sap the inner life of so many of his later performances. Edelmann’s Sachs is genial rather than profound, a portrayal in the line of Frantz, Schöffler or Stewart, rather than Radford, Schorr or Hotter, to name three outstanding recorded exponents. Kunz, Malaniuk and Unger live up to their reputations as being among the finest post-war singers. The young lovers are more problematical: Hopf is a sturdy craftsman rather than a poet, and Schwarzkopf, of whom it could never be said that her art is the kind that disguises art, is hardly an ingénue; at times one longs for a less tremulous tone and the straightforward radiance of a Grümmer. All in all, however, this historic set is a fair monument to a momentous occasion.”
- Ned Ludd
"Otto Edelmann, a leading Austrian bass-baritone of the postwar period particularly known for his interpretations of Wagner and Strauss roles, had a long association with the Vienna State Opera, where he sang for 30 years, and also had a close relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, where he made his début in 1954 as Hans Sachs in Wagner's DIE MEISTERSINGER and sang until April 1976. His final Met role was Baron Ochs in Strauss' DER ROSENKAVALIER, one of his signature roles, which he first performed in 1952 at La Scala with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Herbert von Karajan. That performance is still available as an audio recording; there is also a video of a Salzburg production with the same principals.
Born in Brunn am Gebirge, Austria, in 1917, Mr. Edelmann studied in Vienna with Theodor Lierhammer and Gunnar Graarud and had his first engagement in Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO in Gera, Germany, at the age of 20. He was subsequently engaged as a company bass in Nuremberg, where he sang his first Waldner in ARABELLA under the baton of the opera's composer, Richard Strauss. In World War II he was conscripted into the German army and spent two years as a Soviet prisoner of war before returning to the stage in 1947, first in Graz, Austria, and soon thereafter with the company of the Vienna State Opera, with whom he made his début as the Hermit in Weber's DER FREISCHÜTZ. A FALSTAFF in 1950 under Clemens Krauss, followed by appearances in the first postwar Bayreuth festival as Hans Sachs and in the Beethoven Ninth under Wilhelm Furtwängler, sealed Mr. Edelmann's status as a leading bass-baritone of his day. While his European career included Italian roles like Verdi's Falstaff and King Philip in DON CARLOS, and French ones like Méphistophèles in Gounod's FAUST, the Met kept him to the German repertory, presenting him as Sachs, Wotan, King Marke and, of course, Baron Ochs. As Ochs, he also opened the rebuilt Festspielhaus in Salzburg in 1960. In December 1976 Mr. Edelmann sang his last performance, a final Waldner in Vienna, and turned to teaching at the Vienna Music Academy.”
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 May, 2003
“Formerly Hans Hopf had sung primarily the Italian repertoire, but was now beginning to concentrate on Wagner roles, which suited his robust voice very well. Hopf was an incomparable raconteur, and one was never bored in his company.”
- Birgit Nilsson, LA NILSSON, p.160
“Frederick Dalberg left South Africa in 1930 to study in Dresden. In 1931 he joined the Leipzig Opera, becoming first bass three years later. In 1951 he became first bass in Covent Garden, and participated in first performances of works by Britten and Walton, but in 1957 he resigned to accept the position of first bass in the Mannheim Opera [until January 1970].
During his career, Frederick Dalberg performed in many other opera centres, in Rome, Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, Brussels, Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf, and he was engaged for the Bayreuth Festivals to sing in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG ([a most noteworthy Hagen]), MEISTERSINGER (Pogner), DER RING DER NIBELUNGEN (Fafner) and other Wagner works. He also sang in the Berlin, Glyndebourne and Schwetzingen Festivals and was well-known as a Lieder singer in German cities. For his achievements as operatic, oratorio and Lieder singer, the title of Kammersänger was conferred on him in Germany.”
- South African Music Encyclopedia (J.P. Malan), 1986 edition, Volume I
“For many of the record-buying public, their impression of German dramatic tenor Hans Hopf was formed upon viewing the wretched photograph that was displayed on the cover of his 1960 EMI recording of TANNHÄUSER. Appearing bloated and dim-witted, the tenor was sorely misrepresented by a portrait that should never have been released. While his voice had by that time grown beefier and less pliant, Hopf was too serious an artist to have been exposed to such a public relations disaster. For a truer picture, physically and aurally, turn to his Walter in EMI's live recording of Bayreuth's 1951 DIE MEISTERSINGER with Schwarzkopf, Edelmann, and Karajan. Here, before the strain of too many heroic roles took their toll, his singing was strong and highly agreeable, accomplished if somewhat short of poetic. Hopf studied with bass Paul Bender in Munich before making his début in 1936 singing Pinkerton with the Bavarian Regional Opera. Affiliations with Augsburg, Dresden, Oslo, and Berlin preceded his extended membership at the Bavarian Staatsoper beginning in 1949. In addition to his Bayreuth début, the 1950 -- 1951 season held a first appearance at Covent Garden, where Hopf sang his German-language Radames in an otherwise English-language AÏDA. He was also heard as Walter, pleasing the critics and audiences more for his sturdy singing than for his subtlety. Hopf remained with the Royal Opera through the 1952 -- 1953 season, offering his Walter all three years. At Bayreuth, Hopf worked his way to Parsifal, Tannhäuser, and Siegfried by the 1960s. In 1952, he made his Metropolitan Opera début as Walter. He continued to appear for five more years, eventually amassing a total of 34 performances in the Wagnerian repertory. At Salzburg in 1954, Hopf made his début as Max in Weber's DER FREISCHÜTZ. Although most of his career was spent in Europe, Hopf made two further appearances in American opera houses singing Herodes in both Chicago (1968) and San Francisco (1974), both times with Astrid Varnay as his consort. Although the latter production caught him rather late in the day, he was still an arresting Herod, dissolute and clearly not quite stable. In Germany, Hopf had achieved a considerable reputation as Verdi's Otello.”
- Loyal Bluto