OP0225. DON JUAN DE MAÑARA (Tomasi) (in German), Live Performance, 28 May, 1956, w.Cluytens Cond. Bayerischen Staatsoper Ensemble; Bernd Aldenhoff, Marianne Schech, Josef Metternich, Kieth Engen, Hans Hermann Nissen, Paul Kuen, Magda Gabory, etc.; BERND ALDENHOFF: Arias & Scenes from L'Africaine, Aïda, Otello, Fidelio, Lohengrin & Die Walküre - recorded 1948-54. [The Aldenhoff mini-recital alone is worth the price of this set!] (E.U.) 2-Myto 00336. Final Sealed Copies! - 0801439903364
“The Marseilles born composer-conductor, Henri Tomasi (1901-71), seems to be the forgotten man of French music. On the strength of his drame lyrique, DON JUAN DE MAÑARA, he is unjustly neglected. This work, based on the mystery play by Oscar Milosz, a French poet of Lithuanian birth, deserves to rank with Poulenc's LES DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES as one of the most searching and sincere operas of the postwar era. Indeed Jacques Bourgeois ranks it deservedly with Poulenc's masterpiece, which it predates by five years. It tells of the real-life figure of the seventeenth century, Miguel Mañara, who converted from the life of dissolute Don Juan to that of a saint through the love of a pure woman, Girolama, who dies shortly after their marriage. The reformed Miguel sees the light and becomes a monk devoted to the cause of the poor, including a miracle when he restores a paralytic beggar to health.
Tomasi's music speaks in the voice of his time, calling to mind that of his coevals, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc and, in a touching scene with Girolama, the Debussy of PELLÉAS, yet the rugged honesty of his style and his dramatic knowhow are quite his own with a setting of a text that seems wholly suited to his brand of mystical fervour. That is tempered by an ability to write harsher, earthier music for the more disreputable of his characters - a scene near the end where Miguel, just before his death is tempted back to his sensual ways by the Spirit of the Earth, is especially telling in the latter vein. Tomasi also evinces a sure sense of timing. In this shortish score, no scene outlasts its welcome and each moves forward with a secure inevitability.
In spite of being accepted by the Opéra at the time it was written, the piece was never performed there and had to wait for its stage premiere until 1956 in Munich, but a concert 'first' was given in 1952. A recording of that occasion made for the radio with the composer in charge (he may be remembered as the conductor of the pre-war Columbia ORFEO). Its appearance on disc is an important event.”
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE
“Aldenhoff first appeared at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in 1951 as Siegfried in DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN under both Knappertsbusch and Karajan, and returned there to repeat the rôle several times until 1957. He appeared in Bavarian State Opera Munich between 1950 and 1958 in operas by Weber and Verdi, and in Richard Strauss' DIE ÄGYPTISCHE HELENA, and sang Siegfried in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG at Covent Garden in 1957. He made his Met début as Tannhäuser, and also appeared at La Scala, the Paris Opéra and the Opernhaus Zürich. Bernd Aldenhoff was not only one of the last heldentenors, but also one of the most interesting. Knappertsbusch called him the most ‘human heldentenor’ of his time. As an interpreter, Aldenhoff was, without a doubt, the most precise and sensitive Wagner tenor of his generation. He died in Munich on 8 October, 1959 at the peak of his career from food poisoning."
- David Patmore
"Marianne Schech débuted at Coblenz 1937 (Marta in TIEFLAND). From 1937 to 1945 she sang in Münster, Munich, Düsseldorf and Dresden. Schech was a member of Bavarian State Opera, Munich, 1945–70, specializing in Wagner and Strauss roles. Her Covent Garden début was in 1956, followed by her Met Opera début 1957. Schech débuted in San Francisco in 1959. She was one of singers of trio from DER ROSENKAVALIER at Richard Strauss' funeral, 1949.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron
“From 1940 until his retirement in 1971, [Metternich] was one of the leading German baritones, singing in most of the major opera houses around the world….His was a massive voice of dark power, not rich and smooth, but with an intensity and grittiness that added much to his characterizations.”
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2008
"Metternich’s rich, dark voice, extraordinary breath control, and fine musicianship was coupled with an incisiveness of text projection and a sensitivity of characterization in an outpouring of luxurious sound….In an era when German baritones were expected to sing only German opera, Joseph Metternich made an international career…specializing in the dramatic baritone roles of Italian opera."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2006
“André Cluytens was among the leading French conductors of his time. His father, Alphonse, was conductor at the Royal French Theater of Antwerp. André became his assistant and a choirmaster there. When an illness prevented Alphonse from conducting, André made his performance début in 1927. After that experience he devoted his efforts to orchestral and opera conducting rather than choral work, and he became a resident conductor in the house.
In 1932 he accepted a position as the musical director of orchestral concerts at the Capitole de Toulouse, and he became a French citizen. In 1935 was appointed the opera director in Lyons. He was an assistant of Josef Krips in a summer series in Vichy and, once again, was called on to substitute when that conductor could not perform. He became musical director of the Lyons Opera in 1942, conductor of the Conservatoire Concerts and the French National Radio Orchestra in Paris in 1943, and in 1944 conducted at the Opéra de Paris. From 1947 to 1953 he was music director of the Paris Opéra-Comique, and in 1949 was appointed as principal conductor of the Conservatory Concerts. He retained that position for the rest of his life. In 1955 he was invited to conduct LOHENGRIN at the Bayreuth Festival, the first French person to appear on the podium there. He débuted in the United States in 1956, and in Britain in 1958, when he substituted for Otto Klemperer. He formed a close relationship with the Vienna State Opera, which he first conducted in 1956, becoming a permanent guest conductor in 1959. In 1960 he became conductor of the Belgian National Orchestra in Belgium, also holding that post until his death. He also formed a close link with the Berlin Philharmonic, with which he made a notable recording of the Beethoven symphonies. However, he was primarily known for French repertoire, premiering works by Françaix, Jolivet, Messiaen, Milhaud, Tomasi, Büsser, and Bondeville. He was invited back to Bayreuth in 1965.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com