OP2157. DER ROSENKAVALIER, Live Performance, 16 Feb., 1946, w.Szell Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Irene Jessner, Jarmila Novotná, Nadine Conner, Emanuel List, Thomas Hayward, etc. (E.U.) 3-Walhall 0331. - 4035122653311
“The surprise of the performance is the Sophie of Nadine Conner….Conner could have found no more apt fairy godfather than the California transplant, Bruno Walter….By the Rosenkavalier broadcast of 1946, she is well in command of her tolerable resources: purity of tone (small, but inherently round), firm musicianship, and proficient dramatic skill. Overall there remains something innocuous about the instrument and the stage personality that stamps every rôle with the brand of Sophie. But what a fine Sophie she is….List, perfectly at home in the fourth of his seven broadcast Barons, gives one of his finest performances. For once, the voice is pliant from the moment of his entrance….His rich, beery sound enables him to serve up a fine brew of self-satisfaction and humor, while the sheer bulk of the voice obviates the need for overplaying the boorish aspects of the part….Jessner, after all, is Viennese-born, and many of the ‘throw-aways’ of the rôle are deftly done.”
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.384 & 385
“Jarmila Novotná…was a legendary beauty with an uncanny gift for the stage….She brought a radiance to every role she undertook: her every entrance was like a burst of sunshine.”
- Lanfranco Rasponi, THE LAST PRIMA DONNAS, p.296
“Jarmila Novotná was widely considered one of the finest singing actresses of her time. Her interpretations of such roles as Donna Elvira, Euridice, Manon, Mélisande, Antonia and Marenka were praised for their intelligence and lyrical grace. She also excelled in trouser roles, particularly Orlofsky in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Cherubino in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO and Octavian in DER ROSENKAVALIER. On hearing her American début in San Francisco in MADAMA BUTTERFLY in 1939, Olin Downes wrote in The New York Times: ‘There is grace, warmth, communicative feeling in all that she does’.
She made her Metropolitan début in LA BOHEME in 1940, singing with Jussi Björling. That year Downes also praised her ‘great’ Violetta at the Met: ‘She conceived the music, from first note to last, dramatically, and portrayed the character with an aristocratic sensibility and simplicity. The word and the tone were indissoluble; the phrasing was that of the finest musician’. In her years at the Metropolitan Opera, Miss Novotna sang 193 performances and won consistent praise for her expressiveness and musicianship.
Miss Novotná studied with Emmy Destinn and made her début at the age of 17 with the Prague National Opera. She continued her studies in Milan and became a member of the Vienna State Opera from 1933 to 1938, eventually singing opera and concerts in most of the major houses of Europe. Toscanini brought her to the attention of the Met after she sang Pamina under his direction in Salzburg in 1937. She came to New York in 1940, arriving, she noted years later, the day Hitler marched into Prague. During the war years she recorded ‘Songs of Lidice’, in memory of the victims of the Nazi massacre. The recording presents folk songs of her native land; the piano accompaniments are by Jan Masaryk, the son of the former president of Czechoslovakia.”
- Edward Rothstein, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 Feb., 1994