OP2770. DIE MEISTERSINGER, recorded 1951, w.Kempe Cond. Dresden Staatsoper Ensemble; Ferdinand Frantz, Bernd Aldenhoff, Tiana Lemnitz, Heinrich Pflanzl, Gerhard Unger, Kurt Böhme, Gerhard Stolze, Theo Adam, etc.; DER FREISCHÜTZ - Excerpts, 1951, w.Kempe Cond. Bernd Aldenhoff & Kurt Böhme. (Germany) 4-Gebhardt 0043. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 4035122000436
“Theo Adam, a German opera singer whose varied career spanned the second half of the last century and who made a particularly strong impression internationally with his Wagnerian roles, was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany beginning in the early 1950s, and in February 1969 he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in one of his signature roles, Hans Sachs in Wagner’s DIE MEISTERSINGER.
At a time when, for many operagoers, the singing was the only thing that mattered, Mr. Adam brought an actor’s sensibility as well as a fine voice to the stage. ‘Mr. Adam has developed the vocal and histrionic aspects of his art with equal care and success’, Allen Hughes wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES in reviewing Mr. Adam’s Met debut. ‘His voice is relatively light in weight and texture, and he sang here with a smoothness and flexibility that basses do not invariably possess’. ‘Mr. Adam is not a tall man, he has not let himself get fat, and he moves lithely’, Mr. Hughes added. ‘Indeed his movements, so splendidly scaled and timed, made his acting a joy to follow’.
By the time he retired in 2006 he had appeared in operas and recitals all over the world. For his final performance, that November at the Semperoper in Dresden, he reprised the role of the hermit in Carl Maria von Weber’s DER FREISCHÜTZ, which he had first performed at the same house in 1949.
Mr. Adam joined the rosters of both Bayreuth and the Berlin State Opera in 1952. He first performed the role of Wotan in the Wagner RING operas in 1963, and in 1967 he took his Wotan to the Royal Opera House in London. Metropolitan Opera audiences got to see him as Wotan in DIE WALKÜRE in 1969, just after his Met debut as Hans Sachs.
Mr. Adam was also known for numerous other roles, including the title character in Alban Berg’s WOZZECK. Philip Borg-Wheeler, reviewing a 1973 recording of that opera for Music Web International, said of Mr. Adam’s performance that ‘we have here arguably the most magnificent Wozzeck on record’.
- Neil Genzlinger, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 15 Jan., 2019
“That remarkable musician Rudolf Kempe made two recordings [of MEISTERSINGER]. The first [above] had a short catalogue life complete….It originated in a wartime broadcast from Dresden….worth having for the dulcet Eva of Tiana Lemnitz and for Ferdinand Frantz, a favourite singer of Kempe’s, in fresher voice than in Kempe’s 1957 set….there is a total inevitability, a sort of splended rightness, that is striking….Frantz…makes a commanding figure, admitably clear, and catches [Sachs’] humour perhaps better than any other recorded Sachs except Paul Schöffler….for David there is an automatic first choice: Gerhard Unger…. Gerhard Unger had few equals as David….”
- Richard Law, OPERA ON RECORD, Vol. I
“Anyone who is familiar with Kempe's MEISTERSINGER will know what I mean. Kempe has the gift of making this music sing and surge heroically, without ever sounding overblown or pompous, something that Solti seems not to be able to avoid."
- Ralph John Steinberg, wagneropera.net
“One of the great unsung conductors of the middle twentieth century, Rudolf Kempe enjoyed a strong reputation in England but never quite achieved the international acclaim that he might have had with more aggressive management, promotion, and recording. Not well enough known to be a celebrity but too widely respected to count as a cult figure, Kempe is perhaps best remembered as a connoisseur's conductor, one valued for his strong creative temperament rather than for any personal mystique. He studied oboe as a child, performed with the Dortmund Opera, and, in 1929, barely out of his teens, he became first oboist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. His conducting début came in 1936, at the Leipzig Opera; this performance of Lortzing's DER WILDSCHÜTZ was so successful that the Leipzig Opera hired him as a répétiteur. Kempe served in the German army during World War II, but much of his duty was out of the line of fire; in 1942 he was assigned to a music post at the Chemnitz Opera. After the war, untainted by Nazi activities, he returned to Chemnitz as director of the opera (1945-1948), and then moved on to the Weimar National Theater (1948-1949). From 1949 to 1953 he served as general music director of the Staatskapelle Dresden, East Germany's finest orchestra. He then moved to the identical position at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, 1952-1954, succeeding the young and upwardly mobile Georg Solti. During this period he was also making guest appearances outside of Germany, mainly in opera: in Vienna (1951), at Covent Garden (1953), and at the Metropolitan Opera (1954), to mention only the highlights. Although he conducted Wagner extensively, especially at Covent Garden, Kempe did not make his Bayreuth début until 1960. As an opera conductor he was greatly concerned with balance and texture, and singers particularly appreciated his efforts on their behalf. Kempe made a great impression in England, and in 1960 Sir Thomas Beecham named him associate conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic. Kempe became the orchestra's principal conductor upon Beecham's death the following year, and, after the orchestra was reorganized, served as its artistic director from 1963 to 1975. He was also the chief conductor of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra from 1965 to 1972, and of the Munich Philharmonic from 1967 until his death in 1976. During the last year of his life he also entered into a close association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Interpretively, Kempe was something of a German Beecham. He was at his best -- lively, incisive, warm, expressive, but never even remotely self-indulgent -- in the Austro-Germanic and Czech repertory. Opera lovers prize his versions of LOHENGRIN, DIE MEISTERSINGER, and ARIADNE AUF NAXOS. His greatest recorded legacy, accomplished during the last four or five years of his life, was the multi-volume EMI set of the orchestral works and concertos of Richard Strauss, performed with the highly idiomatic Dresden Staatskapelle. These recordings were only intermittently available outside of Europe in the LP days, but in the 1990s EMI issued them on nine compact discs.”
- James Reel, Rovi
“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
“Lemnitz [was an] esteemed member of the Berlin State Opera from (1934-1935),[and] made guest appearances in Vienna, Munich, Rome, Covent Garden and, in 1936 and 1950, at the Teatro Colón. [Lemnitz sang] many leading rôles [including] Pamina; Aida; Micaëla; Wagner’s Elsa, Eva and Sieglinde; and Strauss’ Octavian as well as the Marschallin. One of her most admired performances was at the 1939 Salzburg Festival, where she sang Agathe in Weber’s DER FREISCHÜTZ. Tiana Lemnitz was known for her exquisite singing, delicate tone, and subtlety of expression.”
- Lia Frey-Rabine, Program Notes to Marston’s DER ROSENKAVALIER