Episode 213. Julia Varady

Episode 213. Julia Varady



A week ago the extraordinary Hungarian-German soprano Julia Varady turned 82. As she is one of my favorite sopranos, I have presented her a few times on the podcast, but never on an episode devoted exclusively to her. There is no time like the present to rectify that situation. Varady had an exceptional and unusual career, centered mostly in Europe, where she was celebrated first as a Mozart soprano, later for her fearless portrayals of the full range of Verdi heroines. Elsewhere in the world, primarily because of her recordings, she was considered mostly a Strauss singer, who also dipped her toe into some of the Wagner jugendlich dramatisch heroines. As today’s traversal proves, she was all that, but also much more: a singer with a gutsy dramatic instinct and a technique that allowed her to take on roles that might have been a few sizes too large for her vocally, but which she portrayed with vigor and fearlessness such as have been matched by only a few of the very greatest sopranos. It is also my objective in this episode to consider her accomplishment independently from that of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, her husband from 1977 until his death in 2012, regarded by many as one of the most significant baritones of the last century. But my (perhaps idiosyncratic) view is that, particularly because of their very different artistic personalities, her achievements, especially on the operatic stage, outrank his. See if you agree with me. We also hear contributions from tenors Siegfried Jerusalem and Franco Tagliavini, soprano Arta Florescu (Varady’s teacher), and baritone Raimund Grumbach, along with pianists Elena Bashkirova and Aribert Reimann (whose compositional masterpiece Lear is also sampled), and conductors Wolfgang Sawallisch, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Algis Zhuraitis, Jesús López-Cobos, Neville Marriner, Herbert von Karajan, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, and István Kertész.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giovanni da Gammera: Il tenero momento (Lucio Silla). Julia Varady, Leopold Hager, Mozarteum-Orchester Salzburg [1975]

Giuseppe Verdi, Salvadore Cammarano [after Antonio García Gutiérrez]: Tu vedrai che amore in terra (Il trovatore). Julia Varady, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Bayerisches Staatsorchester [live München 02.II.92]

Richard Wagner: Traft ihr das Schiff (Der fliegende Holländer). Julia Varady, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper [live München 25.II.92]

Alfredo Catalani, Luigi Illica: Ebben? ne andrò lontana (La Wally). Arta Florescu, Carol Litvin, Romanian Radio Television Orchestra [1965]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lorenzo da Ponte: Come scoglio (Così fan tutte). Julia Varady, István Kertész, Gürzenich-Orchester [live Köln 20.VI.72]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lorenzo da Ponte: In quali eccessi, o Numi… Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata (Don Giovanni). Julia Varady, Herbert von Karajan, Wiener Philharmoniker [live Salzburg VII.87] (In quali eccessi); Julia Varady, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Bayerisches Staatsorchester [live München 12.VII.73] (Mi tradì)

Béla Bartók, Klára Gombossy: from Öt dal [Five Songs], Op. 15: I. Az én szerelmem [My Love]; II. Nyár [Summer]. Julia Varady, Aribert Reimann [1975]

Jacques Offenbach, Michel Carré, Jules Barbier [after ETA Hoffmann; German version by Hans Loewenfeld]: Hörst du es tönen mit süßer Melodie [C’est une chanson d’amour] [sung in German] (Hoffmanns Erzählungen). Julia Varady, Siegfried Jerusalem, Heinz Wallberg, Münchner Rundfunkorchester [1979]

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, Modest Tchaikovsky [after Alexander Pushkin]: Ax! истoмилacь я гopeм [I am worn out with sorrow] (Pique-Dame). Julia Varady, Algis Zhuraitis, Bayerisches Staatsorchester [live München 24.XI.84]

Richard Strauss, Heinrich Heine: Frühlingsfeier, Op. 56/5. Julia Varady, Elena Bashkirova [1992]

Aribert Reimann, Claus H. Henneberg [after William Shakespeare]: Mein lieber Vater (Lear). Julia Varady, Gerd Albrecht, Bayerischer Staatsorchester [world premiere, München 09.VII.78]

Varady as Abigaille in Nabucco, Opéra-Bastille, 1995

Giuseppe Verdi, Temistocle Solera: Santo di patria!… Allor che i forti corrono… Da te questo or m’è concesso (Attila). Julia Varady, Carlo Colombara, Marcello Bufalini, Radio Symphonieorchester Wien [live Wien 22.III.01]

Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica (after David Belasco and John Henry Long): Ebben, Madama Butterfly… Che tua madre (Madama Butterfly). Julia Varady, Raimund Grumbach, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, Orchester der Bayerischen Staatsoper [live München 16.X.80]

Giuseppe Verdi, Francesco Maria Piave [after Alexandre Dumas fils]: Follie! Follie!… Sempre libera (La traviata). Julia Varady, Franco Tagliavini, Jesús López-Cobos, Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin [live 30.IV.84]

Johann Sebastian Bach, Picander [né Christian Friederich Henrici]: Heute noch, heute noch, lieber Vater tut es noch (Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht [Coffee Cantata], BWV 211/8). Julia Varady, Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields [1982]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.