OP0182. DIE FLEDERMAUS, Broadcast Performance, 20 Feb., 1938 [before a most enthusiastic audience], w.Görlich Cond. Stuttgart Reichssenders; Margarete Teschemacher, Peter Anders, Martina Wulf, Karl Schmitt-Walter, Robert Kiefer, Karl Mikorey, Einar Kristjansson, etc. (Party Guests incl. Erna Berger, Ester Réthy & Maria Reining). (Germany) 2-Gebhardt 0022. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copies! - 4035122000221
“This is a delight! A 1938 radio broadcast of DIE FLEDERMAUS from 1938 that was somehow preserved to survive the devastation of so much of the German radio archives between the wars. The performance can take its place proudly alongside a couple of other German radio broadcasts of Strauss’ ever-popular operetta, including a 1936 version affectionately conducted by Hans Rosbaud and a lovely 1949 RIAS broadcast led by Ferenc Fricsay. Gebhardt claims that this is its first release.
There is no denying that the listener is required to separate this charming performance from what was going on in Nazi Germany in 1938. I will do that in this review, since FANFARE is a music journal, not a political or social one.
Conductor Gustav Görlich is a name new to me, but the very informative notes by Joachim Vierrath (idiomatically translated by Thomas Fife) tell us that he was a house conductor for Stuttgart Radio during this period. That this broadcast has a delightful spirit and entirely natural feel to it is in large part due to Görlich, who lingers or moves things along where he needs to.
Margarete Teschemacher (1903–1959) was a German soprano with an important operatic career in German and Italian repertoire. Her voice here is radiant, and her spirit ebullient. She sings the ‘Czardas’ with abandon and flair, though admittedly some of its demands stretch her vocal abilities a bit. Overall, the glow of her tone and her absolutely natural way with the phrasing makes her Rosalinde treasurable.
Tenor Peter Anders (1908–1954) is probably the principal justification for this release. His Alfred is captured early in his career (he was not quite 30). His death in a traffic accident was a loss similar in magnitude to Fritz Wunderlich’s. What we hear on this recording is a beautiful lyric tenor, with a wide range of color at his disposal. In addition to portraying Alfred, Anders makes an appearance as a guest in the big party scene singing a gondola song thrillingly.
Tenor Karl Mikorey was the regular operetta tenor at the Nuremberg Opera, and although his voice is rather generic, he is so at home in this idiom that his Eisenstein is a pleasure to encounter. Martina Wulf’s brilliant coloratura technique and flair make her Adele a major asset to the proceedings.
Although Orlofsky is usually sung by a woman, this production cast a tenor, Einar Kristjansson, in the role, but I’m not sure why. He brings neither a vivid personality nor a particularly lovely voice to the role. The performance goes by without much notice.
The party scene is quite special. In addition to Anders’ gorgeous performance, Maria Reining sings ‘Wann hast du mich wach geküsst’ from Franz Lehár’s FRIEDERIKE magnificently, Erna Berger gives a dazzling performance of Johann Strauss’ ‘Voices of Spring’, and the rich-voiced Esther Rethy seduces with ‘Hör ich den’ from ZIGEUNERBARON.
What particularly distinguishes this FLEDERMAUS is its overall spirit. The recording contains all the dialogue, which is delivered throughout with conviction. We never have the sense that we are listening to singers or actors reading lines. Rather, these are actual characters interacting. The comedy is effective but never over the top.
The 1938 broadcast sound is very good. There is little in the way of hiss, and the frequency range is fuller than I expected. Dynamics are somewhat compressed, but to anyone comfortable with historical recordings, this element will seem better than most from the period.
As I noted earlier, Gebhardt provides excellent program notes about the provenance of this performance. No libretto or synopsis is included, but it is a fair assumption that prospective purchasers will not need them. If DIE FLEDERMAUS appeals to you, it is hard to imagine that you won’t find this recording as lovely a discovery as I did. It is available from Norbeck, Peters & Ford (norpete.com).”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Margarete Teschemacher was a German operatic soprano, particularly associated with the German repertory, although she sang a wide range of roles. She possessed a warm lyrico-dramatic voice and a good stage presence. She was born in Cologne in 1903 where she studied and then made her début in 1923, as Micaela in CARMEN. She sang in Aachen (1924-26), Dortmund (1926-28), Mannheim (1928-30), Stuttgart (1930-34), Dresden (1934-46) and Düsseldorf (1947-52). She created the title role in DAPHNE by Richard Strauss, and Miranda in DIE ZAUBERINSEL by Heinrich Sutermeister. In 1931, she appeared at the Royal Opera House in London, as Pamina and Elsa, and again in 1936 on tour with the Staatsoper Dresden, as Countess Almaviva and Donna Elvira. She also appeared at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, in 1934.
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
“Maria Reining was the jugendliche-dramatische soprano who took over the majority of Lotte Lehmann's rôles at the Vienna State Opera when Lehmann left in 1937, and continued singing them into the early 1950s. She proved hugely popular with the public because of her naturally beautiful soprano and lovely looks, the voice as we hear it obviously part of the outgoing, unaffected personality. On disc she recorded for Telefunken just before the war, for Electrola during it, and for Decca after, most notably her Marschallin in the legendary DER ROSENKAVALIER conducted by Erich Kleiber. Perhaps her most notable legacies on disc are her account of the title-rôle in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, recorded at the Vienna State Opera to celebrate Strauss' eightieth birthday, and her Arabella in the 'unofficial' off-the-air Salzburg Festival performances of Strauss' opera in 1947 (with Hotter as Mandryka).”
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, Sept., 1992
“Peter Anders was a German operatic tenor who sang a wide range of parts in the German, Italian, and French repertories. He began by singing lyric roles and later undertook dramatic roles with equal success.
Anders was born in Essen and studied at the Berlin Music Academy with Ernst Grenzebach, and later privately with Lula Mysz-Gmeiner, whose daughter Susanne he married. In 1931, he appeared in Berlin in LA BELLE HÉLÈNE, and made his operatic début the following year in Heidelberg, as Jacquino in FIDELIO. Anders sang in Darmstadt (1933–35), Cologne (1935–36), Hannover (1937–38), and then at the Munich State Opera (1938–40), where he took part in the creation of Richard Strauss' FRIEDENSTAG. He returned next to Berlin and sang at the Berlin State Opera from 1940 until 1948. His repertory at that time included lyric roles such as Belmonte, Tamino, Lyonel, Hans, Hoffmann, Leukippos, Alfredo and Rodolfo. Beginning in 1949, Anders undertook such heavier roles as Florestan, Max, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Walther, Siegmund, Radames, Otello, with equal success.
Anders made a few guest appearances at the Royal Opera House in London, the La Monnaie in Brussels and the San Carlo in Naples, as well as appearing at the Glyndebourne Festival. Anders sang not only an impressive range of operatic roles but also appeared in several operetta parts. He performed regularly on German radio and in concert and was also active in oratorio and lieder recitals.
He became a favorite of Adolf Hitler's regime and was not required to serve in the armed forces during the Second World War - instead he entertained German troops and participated in propaganda events. These activities tainted his reputation in the post-war world. While at the height of his career, Anders died in a car accident in Hamburg at the age of 46.”
- Ned Ludd