OP0149. PALESTRINA (Pfitzner), Live Performance, 16 Dec., 1964, w.Heger Cond. Vienna Staatsoper Ensemble; Fritz Wunderlich, Gottlob Frick, Walter Berry, Gerhard Stolze, Otto Wiener, Sena Jurinac, Christa Ludwig, etc.; PALESTRINA - Excerpts, Salzburg, 1955, w.Max Lorenz & Paul Schöffler. (Croatia) 3-Myto 922.59. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 608974500597
“As news spread during 1964 that Wunderlich was scheduled by the Vienna State Opera to sing the title role in PALESTRINA, so did incredulity. This had been the domain of Julius Patzak, before him Erich Schmedes. How would Wunderlich cope with the top C, let alone the brooding, restless nature of the hero himself? Barely five years since his debut in Freiburg as Tamino in Mozart’s DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, and only two since he had sung for the first time in Vienna, Wunderlich’s voice was considered too light and lyrical for such a densely scored post-Wagnerian drama, but as events turned out it proved to be the highlight of his pitifully short seven-year career. He sailed to the top C with head voice, his relative youth belied the success of his probing search for the character of Palestrina…It must have made a deep impression upon the hushed audience in this live recording, and remains a wonderfully clear rebuke to those who rejected the possibility that he would develop into a Wagnerian singer (the Steersman in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER was one of his roles, so too was David in DIE MEISTERSINGER)…this production put him on the road leading to Florestan and Walther von Stolzing. That he would eventually sing Parsifal is surely one of the great ‘might-have-beens’ in twentieth century opera.
Despite the amazing cast of singers assembled for this production, it is the unforgettable voice and impeccable diction of Fritz Wunderlich which will sear itself upon your memory. There’s simply nothing more to say.”
- Christopher Fifield, MusicWeb-International