OP0033. TANNHÄUSER, Live Performance, 1966, w.Melles Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Leonie Rysanek, Jess Thomas, Hermann Prey, Martti Talvela, Willy Hartmann, Ludmilla Dvorakova, etc. (Croatia) 3-Melodram GM 1.0033. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 608974100339
Martti Talvela, a Finnish bass who appeared regularly at the Metropolitan Opera and was the director-designate of the Finnish National Opera, was most highly regarded in the Russian operatic repertory, and was considered a peerless interpreter of the title role in Modest Mussorgsky's BORIS GODUNOV, which he sang many times at the Metropolitan Opera. He also enjoyed considerable success as Dosifei in the Met's production of Mussorgsky's KHOVANSHCHINA.
His physical stature made him a natural for the mythical roles that were his specialty. He stood 6 feet 7 inches tall, and weighed close to 300 pounds. He became interested in opera after hearing a performance by the Russian bass Ivan Petrov, as Boris.
In January 1960, he won first prize in a lieder competition in Helsinki, and went to Stockholm to continue his studies with Carl Martin Ohmann. The following year he made his debut, as Sparafucile in Verdi's RIGOLETTO, at the Swedish National Opera.
Wieland Wagner, the composer's grandson and a noted stage director, heard one of Mr. Talvela's early performances and invited him to appear at Bayreuth in 1962. In 1963, he made his debut with the Deutsche Oper, in Berlin, and toured Japan with that company as Seneca in Monteverdi's INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA. By 1965, he had made debuts at La Scala, in Milan, and at the Vienna State Opera, and was performing regularly at Bayreuth and Salzburg. Mr. Talvela made his American debut with a recital at Hunter College in 1968, and with performances at the Metropolitan Opera that same year.
In discussing his work, Mr. Talvela often spoke in passionate, mystical terms. Singing is, for me, a combination of notes and visions, he told a NEW YORK TIMES interviewer. I must see pictures when I sing, and when I do not have those pictures in my mind, I am uncomfortable. Singing must be a passion, like the praying of the holy man, who is always thinking about how he can improve his prayers to make the message clearer. I am not a holy man - not at all - but I know how it is. In singing, everything must happen in the spirit, in the soul.''
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 July, 1989
Though Mr. Prey's voice was a mellow, lyric baritone, he sang with such focused sound and robust projection that he enjoyed an active career in opera. He avoided the heavier Verdi roles, but excelled at Mozart, Gluck, Rossini, and lighter Strauss and Wagner roles. One of his great achievements was Beckmesser in Wagner's MEISTERSINGER, which he sang at the Met in 1993. To his characterization of a town clerk in medieval Nuremberg, typically portrayed as a scheming buffoon, Mr. Prey brought an emotional complexity and light-on-the-feet comic grace that made Beckmesser endearing.
Mr. Prey's voice was ideally suited to lieder, and he left a large and important discography, including songs by Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, Mahler, and Carl Loewe, a neglected 19th-century composer whom Mr. Prey championed. Commenting on Mr. Prey's 1985 recording of Schubert's WINTERREISE with the pianist Philippe Bianconi, The New York Times critic Bernard Holland wrote: This is Schubert singing that does not twist sound for pictorial or dramatic effect but instead creates, with unusual musical clarity and purity of tone, a narrative voice which, though concerned and moved, tells the story first and lives it only indirectly."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 July, 1998
Leonie Rysanek was both a great actress and a great singer the singer with a thousand faces. For decades she sang some of the most difficult rôles of the German and Italian repertories with dramatic intensity and a large vocal tone - her rapturous Sieglinde which she first sang in Bayreuth in 1951 is still much talked about, and there can be no question that she was (among many other rôles) memorable as Senta, Leonore, Elizabeth, Desdemona, Kundry, Donna Anna, Aïda and Arabella. In her later years, she took on the darker- toned character rôles of the repertories and triumphed in them as well. She was beloved in New York and Vienna where she spent most of her professional time and in every city where there was a great opera house. Altogether, she gave 3000 performances and sang 50 roles. It is said that while Vienna was to Ms. Rysanek a very special place (over 500 performances at the Staatsoper from 1950 on) , the Metropolitan Opera in New York was her operatic home. It was here where on 5 February, 1959 she first fascinated New York audiences as Lady Macbeth, a rôle that was to have been sung by Maria Callas. By all accounts it was a legendary performance, marking the beginning of an enduring love affair with MET audiences. After 300 performances, she gave her farewell performance at the MET on 2 January, 1996 as the Duchess in Tchaikovsky's QUEEN OF SPADES after which, amidst a tumultuous ovation which she shared with her husband Ernst-Ludwig Gausmann, she thanked the audience for the love and devotion they had shown her through the years. This scene repeated itself the following August at the Salzburg Festival House - after her farewell performance as Klytemnestra in Strauss' ELEKTRA, she thanked an adoring audience for a beautiful life, as indeed it was.
- Dr. Peter Dusek, FAREWELL TO A VIENNESE DIVA