OP2860. SCHWANDA DER DUDELSACKPFEIFER (Weinberger), Broadcast Performance, 1948, w.Zillig Cond. Hessischen Rundfunks Ensemble, Frankfurt; Karl Schmitt-Walter, Betina Brucker, Karl Friedrich, Christa Ludwig, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0377. - 4035122653779
VANDA THE BAGPIPER (Schwanda the Bagpiper), written in 1926, is an opera in two acts (five scenes), with music by Jaromír Weinberger to a Czech libretto by Milo Kare, based on the drama STRAKONICKÝ DUDÁK ANEB HODY DIVÝCH EN (The Bagpiper of Strakonice) by Josef Kajetán Tyl. Its first performance was in Prague at the Czech National Opera on 27 April 1927. It premiered in German, with the translation by Max Brod, at Breslau on 16 December 1928. Other productions quickly followed: Ljubljana, 5 October 1929 (in Slovenian translation), Riga, 6 December 1930 (in Latvian translation), Sofia, 6 November 1931 (in Bulgarian translation) & Metropolitan Opera, New York, 7 November 1931.
At the time, the opera, with its use of Czech folk material, enjoyed considerable success, with translations into 17 languages. Since that time, the opera has fallen from the repertory, although in orchestral performances and recordings, the Polka and Fugue now together form a concert work that is heard more often than the opera itself.
Schmitt-Walter made his key début at the Berlin State Opera in 1935, as Luna in IL TROVATORE, which led to a long association with this important theatre, where he would sing wide repertory of lyric parts for the baritone voice. He also performed often at the Hamburg State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Bayreuth Festival, and, from 1950, the Munich State Opera. Outside the Austro-German operatic heartland, he made guest appearances at the Paris Opéra, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Liceo in Barcelona, La Monnaie in Brussels and the Holland Festival, among other major European venues.
Schmitt-Walter possessed a comparatively light, high-baritone voice of great beauty and was equipped with an exceptionally good singing technique. He was particularly admired in Mozart and Wagner roles, notably Papageno, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Beckmesser, which role he often sang at Bayreuth. Schmitt-Walter also performed in Verdi operas such as ERNANI, LA TRAVIATA and UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, mostly in German translation. He enjoyed considerable success in light German operas by Lortzing and also in operetta. He was an excellent lieder interpreter, too. From 1962, he taught in Munich and Copenhagen and died in Bavaria at the age of 84.
- Ned Ludd
There are great singers, and there are great artists. A great singer needs an exceptional voice, a masterful technique and the musicianship to conquer the most challenging repertoire. A true artist, of course, possesses these attributes, but there is something more - a soul-deep connection to the expressive content of the music; a sort of telepathic sympathy with the composer and a yearning to communicate that fire of inspiration to anyone who will listen. Christa Ludwig was blessed with all these things, and the opera world has been blessed in turn by her unerring ability to understand the characters she played, and to carry their joys and sorrows to the audience with such humanity and tenderness that we could not help taking her into our hearts. The beauty, warmth and radiance of her instrument seem inseparable from the beauty, warmth and radiance of the human spirit that breathes forth that wondrous sound. She made thrilling forays into dramatic-soprano territory, singing the Marschallin as well as Octavian in DER ROSENKAVALIER and giving performances of Leonore in FIDELIO that are now the stuff of legend. Perhaps most famously, she partnered her then-husband Walter Berry as the Dyer's Wife in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN.
Her Met début in 1959, as Cherubino, was not a great triumph, but by the time she bade farewell to the house, as Fricka in 1993 - her 119 performances of fifteen roles had made her one of the most beloved artists in the company's history.
- Louise T. Guinther, OPERA NEWS, April 2014
Winfried Zillig was a German composer, music theorist, and conductor who was born in Würzburg. After leaving school, Zillig studied law and music. One of his teachers there was Hermann Zilcher. In Vienna he was a private pupil of Arnold Schönberg, later following him to Berlin. His first compositions date from this time.
In 1927 he became the assistant of Erich Kleiber at the Berlin State Opera. A short time later he became repetiteur to the Oldenburg Opera. In the years 1932 to 1937, he acted as repetiteur and Kapellmeister at the Düsseldorf Opera. Positions followed as Kapellmeister in Essen and at the beginning of the 1940s as the musical leader of the Posen Opera. After the end of World War II he became the first Kapellmeister of the Düsseldorfer Oper. In the years 1947 to 1951 he occupied the position of conductor at the HR-Sinfonieorchester. After 1959 he led the musical division of Norddeutscher Rundfunk. Zillig died in 1963 in Hamburg.
Winfried Zillig was very productive as a composer. His output includes operas, oratorios, passions, choral music, serenades, string quartets, and other Chamber music, as well as lieder and suites. He was also responsible for completing the score of the oratorio DIE JAKOBSLEITER, which his former teacher Arnold Schönberg had left unfinished, at the request of Schönberg's widow. Furthermore, he made a name for himself as a music theorist with an emphasis on twelve-tone technique.
- Ned Ludd