V0371. EDA-PIERRE, GRUBEROVA, KAUFMANN, MATHIS, AHNSJO, ARAIZA, BERRY, BURROWS, MOSER, PAPE, TERFEL, etc.: Arias, Canons & Vocal Ensembles (Mozart). 8-Philips 422 523 , recorded 1977-90, Slipcase Edition w.336pp. Brochure, texts, photos. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 028942252325
“Edita Gruberova, a Slovak soprano who enchanted audiences with gleaming, vibrant and technically dazzling singing over a 50-year career, becoming a leading exponent of the coloratura soprano repertory, was a true coloratura soprano. She had a high, light and agile voice that was easily capable of dispatching embellished runs, all manner of trills and leaps to shimmering top notes.
Reviewing her 1989 performance as Violetta in Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA at the Metropolitan Opera, the critic Martin Mayer wrote in OPERA magazine that Ms. Gruberova ‘trills without thinking about it’, could ‘sing very softly and still project into the house and soars over ensemble and orchestra in the great third-act finale’. Many opera devotees considered her a successor to the formidable Joan Sutherland.
Reviewing that 1986 LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR in Chicago for The CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, Thor Eckert Jr. wrote that Ms. Gruberova had given ‘an astonishing demonstration of her art’. ‘The level of poise, of sheer vocal mastery, of musical and dramatic insight’ were unmatched on the vocal scene of the time, he said. Her performance of the mad scene, he added, was ‘a study in the communicative power of histrionic simplicity’. She would go on to give more than 700 performances with the Vienna State Opera, the last a farewell gala concert in 2018. She also became a mainstay of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. A breakthrough came in 1976 when Ms. Gruberova sang Zerbinetta in a new production of Strauss’ ARIADNE AUX NAXOS in Vienna, with Karl Böhm conducting. The reviews were sensational, especially for her brilliant rendering of Zerbinetta’s long showpiece aria, when the character, a coquettish member of a comedy troupe, tries to persuade the heartsick Ariadne to forget the godly lover who has abandoned her and look to other men. The eminent Böhm, who had worked closely with the composer, famously commented at the time, ‘My God, if only Strauss had heard your Zerbinetta!’
In 1979, while singing Zerbinetta at the Met, she was briefly interviewed for the afternoon radio broadcast and made comments about the role that seemed pertinent to her own character. ‘I don’t see her as a soubrette but as a young lady who has lived, you could say, with quite a past’, Ms. Gruberova said. ‘But she does not take anything too seriously, because she can laugh it off. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word melancholy’.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 Oct., 2021
“Christiane Eda-Pierre, a coloratura soprano who was among France’s first Black opera stars, and whose New York résumé included a performance seen by some 150,000 people in 1980, was born on the Caribbean island Martinique, made her debut in 1958 in Nice and was soon a regular on French opera and recital stages as well as on radio. She was known for, as one critic put it, ‘a clear voice backed by good coloratura equipment and a very strong top’, which she employed to fine effect in the operas of Mozart, Bizet and the French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, as well as in contemporary works.
In 1966 she made her American debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Leïla in Bizet’s THE PEARL FISHERS, and by the mid-1970s she was turning up on New York stages. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in April 1980 as Konstanze in Mozart’s THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO, a role that includes a notoriously difficult aria, ‘Martern aller Arten’. ‘Any soprano who can sing Konstanze’s ‘Martern aller Arten’ decently is a better-than-average singer, and Miss Eda-Pierre’s accomplishments with this fiendish aria were far better than decent’, Allen Hughes wrote in his review of the performance in THE NEW YORK TIMES. ‘The aria might be called a vocal obstacle course, so athletic and arbitrary are its demands, and Miss Eda-Pierre negotiated the course adroitly’.
Two months later Ms. Eda-Pierre was part of a memorable event in Central Park when she sang Gilda, a role she had first performed in France at the start of her career, in the Met’s free production of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO. The performance was widely anticipated because of the presence in the cast of Luciano Pavarotti, then perhaps opera’s biggest star, making his first appearance in a Met Central Park opera, according to news accounts at the time. The performances were usually staged in the Sheep Meadow, but it was being resodded at the time, so the event was moved to the larger Great Lawn. The extra space was needed: An estimated 150,000 people turned out.
Shortly after her debut in Nice, she appeared with the Opéra- Comique in the title role of Léo Delibes’ LAKMÉ, a role she performed 12 years later at Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland to great acclaim. THE NEW YORK TIMES noted, ‘She breathed such life into the faded orientalism of ‘Lakmé’ that London’s leading music critic, Andrew Porter of THE FINANCIAL TIMES, wrote after a detailed rave, ‘We must hear more of this remarkable singer!’ In 1974 she brought her Leïla to Carnegie Hall when the Opera Orchestra of New York performed THE PEARL FISHERS there, and two years later she was among the cast, as the Countess, when the Paris Opéra brought its version of Mozart’s NOZZE DI FIGARO to the Met and then to the Kennedy Center in Washington.
After her debut with the Met in 1980, Ms. Eda-Pierre performed only for two years with the company. Before her retirement from the opera stage in the mid-1980s, she had another career highlight in 1983 when she originated the role of the angel in Olivier Messiaen’s opera, ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, which was given its premiere in France by the Paris Opéra.”
- Neil Genzlinger, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25 Sept., 2020