OP3433. DER ROSENKAVALIER, Live Performance, 19 Dec., 1964, w.Schippers Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Lisa Della Casa, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Judith Raskin, Otto Edelmann, Karl Dönch, Gladys Kriese, Andrea Velis, Barry Morell, Gabor Carelli, etc. (Canada) 3-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1279. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Although one of the most admired concert artists of out time Miss Schwarzkopf was making her belated appearance on the Metropolitan stage in the same part that served for her American operatic debut nine years ago in San Francisco. She has also recorded the role. So expectation ran high in the capacity, musically-knowing audience before the curtain went up, and the excitement engendered by eager anticipation electrified the atmosphere.
Since the first act is more or less the Marschallin's, the audience knew what to make of Miss Schwarzkopf's performance by the time the act was over. The soprano conquered her listeners, and the roar that filled the house when she took her bows must be the kind that the most vain prima donna could ask for.
When she has sung in ROSENKAVALIER elsewhere, Miss Schwarzkopf's interpretation has inspired some controversy. Last night, her performance was never less than admirable and often it was deeply moving. With her blond radiance, she looked beautiful and behaved with the aristocratic manner expected of the Marschallin. She was constantly projecting the most minute dramatic details suggested by the text in terms of vocal phrasing and coloration and of facial and bodily expression. If these never seemed artificial there were times when the emotions swept by so quickly and easily one was a little uneasy in their presence. But she was able to do one thing superbly and uncannily: after looking so youthfully happy in her early love scenes with Octavian, she seemed to age physically as she began to think about the passing years and about losing her lover. This was the element in her performance to which one could not fail to respond, and in the final moments of her deepening awareness of the lonely years ahead she was convincingly and extraordinarily touching.
Vocally, Miss Schwarzkopf is no longer the fresh, pure-voiced artist she used to be. The voice has grown larger. At times it is more shrill; at times it has its old blandishments, and she can still manage lovely high pianissimos.
There were other fresh elements in the performance. Lisa Della Casa, who has sung - and will sing later this season-the role of the Marschallin - appeared as Octavian for the first time with the company. She looked elegant in the second act, less so in the first, and her lovely features did not look well under the male wigs. Her clear voice was not at its best in Octavian's music, since it lies low on the whole, and she tended to phrase sluggishly. Yet she was credibly youthful in action and nicely restrained in the scene where she is Octavian dressed as a maid.
Central to the success of this performance was the conducting of Thomas Schippers, who had not led the opera in the house before. The care and ease with which he paced the first orchestral phrases set the pattern for his interpretation, which was to keep the texture clear, the pace relaxed.
All this did wonders for the singers besides giving the score a chance to make itself heard completely. In a way, it seemed as much Mr. Schippers' night as it did Miss Schwarzkopf's.”
- Raymond Ericson, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 20 Dec., 1964
"Judith Raskin, the American lyric soprano famed for her voice and musicianship, was a leading singer with the New York City Opera, and then at the Metropolitan Opera from 1962 to 1972. Miss Raskin was hailed as one of the finest artists of her time. She had a voice that critics constantly referred to as ‘ravishing. Combined with the beauty of her sound was a high order of musicianship. In addition, Miss Raskin was a beautiful woman and an excellent actress. As a complete artist, she captivated audiences whenever she appeared.
Miss Raskin sang about 20 operatic roles, ranging from Mozart through Stravinsky and Poulenc. Her Mozart was especially admired; she sang leading roles in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, DON GIOVANNI, COSI FAN TUTTE and DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE. She was also hailed for her performance as Nanetta in Verdi's FALSTAFF at the Metropolitan Opera. Many believed her to be the most attractive Adele in Strauss' FLEDERMAUS within memory. Among her contemporary operas were Stravinsky's RAKE'S PROGRESS, Moore's BALLAD OF BABY DOE in addition to DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES.
Miss Raskin never tried to be merely a singer of high notes, though her range equaled that of any lyric soprano. Nor did she ever attempt to sing louder than some of the tenors with whom she worked. Instead she concentrated on purity of sound and line. ‘I've tried to make up in depth what I don't have in quantity’, she once told an interviewer. ‘There is a kind of singer who has a poetic approach to music rather than a purely vocal approach. It's a special kind of voice, which cannot be described simply as lyric or lyric coloratura. It's a special kind of sound with a certain purity, and I like to think that's what I have’.
Miss Raskin sang at the Chicago Lyric and other American opera houses and at Glyndebourne. She also appeared frequently with American orchestras, in oratorio and in recital. She made her New York recital début at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1964. Reviewing the concert for THE NEW YORK TIMES, Howard Klein pointed out that not many opera singers could make the transition from the grand gestures of the operatic stage to the intimacy of song. 'Miss Raskin’, Mr. Klein said, ‘brought to her program the finesse expected in this medium - fluent singing, pure tone, accurate scales, good musicianship, clear diction - and lost none of the keen ability to evoke character that has enlivened many of her operatic roles’.”
- Harold C. Schonberg, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 Dec., 1984