OP3029. THE RAKE'S PROGRESS (Stravinsky), w.Chailly Cond. London Sinfonietta Ensemble; Philip Langridge, Cathryn Pope, Samuel Ramey, Astrid Varnay, Sarah Walker, Stafford Dean, John Dobson, etc. 2-London 411 644, recorded 1984, w.Elaborate 189pp. Libretto-brochure, Slipcase Set. Final, ever-so-slightly used copy. - 028941164421
"...it is my opinion that Assur's mad scene, which runs nearly twenty-five minutes, contains the opera's greatest music. Everything is packed into it, including exciting coloratura, dramatic recitative, and gorgeous cantilena. I loved the way Sam did it. I loved it so much that whenever we performed SEMIRAMIDE, I would stand in the wings during his mad scene just to hear him."
– Marilyn Horne
"The dramatic soprano Astrid Varnay was born into an operatic family: her mother was a coloratura soprano and her father a spinto tenor. The year in which she was born they founded the Opera Comique Theatre in Kristiania, Sweden, although they were both born in Hungary, and they managed it until 1921.The family then moved to Argentina and later to New York, where her father died in 1924. Her mother subsequently remarried another tenor, and the young Astrid, after studying to be a pianist, decided at the age of eighteen to become a singer. She worked intensively, first with her mother and then with the Metropolitan Opera conductor and coach Hermann Weigert, whom she later married. She made her sensational stage début at the Metropolitan in 1941, substituting at short notice for Lotte Lehmann as Sieglinde in DIE WALKÜRE with no rehearsal. After this triumph, six days later she replaced Helen Traubel in the same opera as Brünnhilde, and her operatic career was effectively launched. She made her Covent Garden début in 1948 and, at the suggestion of Kirsten Flagstad, her Bayreuth Festival début in 1951. She sang every year at Bayreuth for the next seventeen years and at the Met until 1956, when she left following a disagreement with Rudolf Bing. She henceforth concentrated her career on Germany where she was revered, living in Munich. She moved from the dramatic soprano repertoire into that for mezzo-soprano in 1969, and during the 1980s into character parts. She made her last appearance in Munich in 1995, almost fifty-five years after her Metropolitan début. Her brilliant career is well documented in both commercial and unofficial sound recordings."
- David Patmore