戦前の歌謡 その308 100greatest singers8

Elisabeth Rethberg, Soprano (1894-1976)
Giuseppe Verdi - Aida
O patria mia (Recorded 1924)
My personal opinion: "The greatest living soprano" said Arturo Toscanini after a performance of "Aida" at LaScala in 1929. It seems, Aida was her destiny.
In 1922 Rethberg (at the time one of the leading sopranos of the Royal Opera House Dresden) traveled to New York. Time was short and she arrived for the rehearsal, sang "Ritorna vincitor" still wore her coat. An anecdote? Maybe, but Elisabeth Rethberg enchanted everyone. Two years later, after a Metropolitan-performance of Aida, Edwin Arthur (conductor of Flagstads "Mild und leise" in this collection) wrote: "They were two other artists with her, Martinelli and Marion Telva. I couldn´t believe, such sounds came out of human throats".
The german Rethberg could hold her ground even against Ponselle. Author and music-critic Lawrence Gilman was enchanted by "fluent and smooth beauty of her voice". She sang Desdemona, Leonora (Forza), Santuzza, Donna Anna, Agathe, Elsa, Elisabeth (Don Carlo) and Pamina. Periodical she returned to Dresden for guest performances. British music-critic John Steane called Rethberg "a singer´s singer". Her vocal range and her versatelity were singular and brought back memories of Lilli Lehmann, but her voice wasn´t as warm as Ponselle´s. She always sounded a little bit teutonic.


Sigrid Onegin, Contralto and Mezzosoprano(1889-1943)
Christoph Willibald Gluck - Orfeo et Euridice
Che faro senza Euridice? (Recorded 1930)
My personal opinion: A true shocking scandal in High Society, but when it came to disclose, that swedish born Sigrid Onegin had married a wife, Agnes Elisabeth Overbeck better known as Baron Eugen Borisovitch Lhvoff Onegin - , her reputation was big enough to obtain amnesia. Baron Onegin aka Overbeck was a young russian pianist and a connoisseur of voices. Overbecks mother studied with Garcia, the famous spanish baritone and teacher. Later, Onegin characterized this encounter as the turning point in her life. Onegin / Overbeck died in 1919, three years after that Sigrid Onegin came to New York and to the Metropolitan Opera. She was much more on the concert stage where she sung more than 500 songs in 13 different languages. A critic once wrote: "Madame Onegin seems to be exceptional, because she´s a contralto and a soprano at once." Indeed Onegin enforced back many roles from the contralto repertoire, which were in hands of sopranos. Audiences acclaimed her as legitimate successor of Ernestine Schumann-Heink.
Sigrid Onegin was one of the greatest belcanto heroines the world ever knew. The sound of her voice was resonant, warm and exuberant. She was a master of richly ornamented singing, but she also sung Carmen and one of my personal favorites Orfeo, for which her voice seemed to be ideal: Cautious and pathetic at once. Some critics wrote, Onegin possessed the most cultured voice a woman ever had. I do agree, just hear her Habanera also on YouTube.


Ferruccio Tagliavini, Tenor (1913-1995)
Ambroise Thomas - Mignon
Based on a novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Adieu, Mignon, courage - sung in italian - (Recorded around 1943)
My personal opinion: In his informative book "Grosse Stimmen" author Jens Malte Fischer reported an experiment he once made with students. He played 25 different versions of Che gelida manina without mentioned the singers name. Most students prefered one special version, those of Ferruccio Tagliavini, who always was overshadowed by Gigli´s fame and del Monaco´s physical presence.
Tagliavinis voice was less rich and debitable than Giglis, but probably sweeter with lots of smorzando-effects. Maybe he enchanted those listeners, who like Giglis voice but not his sobbing manner. It´s a pity, Tagliavini was one of those tenore di grazia who overforced their lyric instruments with singing wrong parts much too soon. Tagliavinis voice was very fragile. I believe, even Rudolfo was a little bit too strong for him. And Tagliavini as Riccardo in Ballo?
He was best in his recordings with pure lyrical music, for instance Nemorinos two arias or Federicos melancholy lamento. But a real highlight is his interpretation of Ed anche Beppe amò, about which Mascagni himself said: He sang L´Amico Fritz like no other!.


Meta Seinemeyer, Soprano (1895-1929)
Franz Schubert - Gretchen am Spinnrade
Composed 1814, based on a selection of Goethe´s Faust (Recorded 1928)
My personal opinion: The voice of Meta Seinemeyer was colored with tears and sorrow, a quality we know for instance from Caruso´s recording of "Cor´ngrato" or the singing of Kathleen Ferrier. It´s a sound that came from the bottom of the heart. Seinemeyers voice was unmistakeable, her timbré unique. It was a rich voice, luxuriant and luminiscent. Even the bad acoustic of her recordings are unable to make this unhearable.
She died in 1929, only 34 years old. Although her career was a very short one, she left us some recordings with amazing singing. Verdi was her domain, she was one of the protagonists when in Dresden the Verdis Renaissance began. We have great recordings with her of "Pace, pace" and the Otello Love-Duet with Tino Pattiera, but I want to present you the amazing performance of Schuberts first successful song "Gretchen" (with orchestration). Some singers are saying that Verdi should be sing like a Schubert-Lied, with elegance and cantabile. Here, Seinemeyer sings Schubert like Verdi. I know these sample is already here on YouTube, but it´s one of her most thrilling legacys, and worth to hear it again, over and over!

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