Episode 64. Jorma Hynninen in Opera

Episode 64. Jorma Hynninen in Opera (Great Baritones I)



This is the first of two episodes I have planned in honor of the great Finnish baritone Jorma Hynninen, who turns 80 in 2021. The focus today is on his work in opera. His stylistic range was unusually large: during the years in which he appeared internationally he triumphed in roles ranging from Mozart to Verdi to the title role in Eugene Onegin in opera houses around the world. What is perhaps less well-remembered is that he also was a phenomenal Pelléas and also a distinguished Wagnerian, singing Wolfram, Amfortas, and Kurwenal, among other parts. All of these are featured in today’s episode, as well as arias and scenes from operas by Strauss, Dallapiccola, and Hindemith. Jorma Hynninen made his greatest contribution to the field, however, in his legendary creations in the world of Finnish opera. The second portion of the program features excerpts of his performances in works by pioneers Leevi Madetoja and Aarre Merikanto and continues with roles he created in operas by Aulis Sallinen and Einojuhani Rautavaara. Though he retired from opera in 2012, he continues to concertize in Finland; in the fall of 2019 he embarked on a brief concert tour with a voice nearly untouched by the years. Mirella Freni, Hildegard Behrens, and Victoria de los Ángeles are also featured in the episode. Join me in an exploration of the operatic career of this extraordinary singer.


Ruggero Leoncavallo: Si può? [Prologo] (Pagliacci). Jorma Hynninen; Eri Klas, Estonian Symphony Orchestra [1989] ; Miguel Gómez Martínez, Savonlinna Festival Orchestra [July 1988]

Jorma Hynninen as Marcello in La bohème (1970)

Ruggero Leoncavallo: Tälla ista elämää miten jataka [Decidi il mio destin] (Pagliacci). Jorma Hynninen; Orchestra of the Finnish National Opera [1969]

A young Hynninen and his then wife-to-be Reetta (1942-2017), whom he married in 1961

Giuseppe Verdi: O dolcezze perdute (Un ballo in maschera). Jorma Hynninen; Unknown pianist [1969]

Jean Sibelius: Illalle, Op. 17/6. Jorma Hynninen; Kalevi Kiviniemi [2017]

Giuseppe Verdi: Il balen del suo sorriso (Il trovatore). Jorma Hynninen; Eri Klas, Estonian Symphony Orchestra [1989]

Hynninen as Count Almaviva

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Hai già vinta la causa!… Vedrò, mentr’io sospiro (Le Nozze di Figaro). Jorma Hynninen; Riccardo Muti, Wiener Philharmoniker

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Deh, vieni alla finestra (Don Giovanni). Jorma Hynninen; Eri Klas, Estonian Symphony Orchestra

A very grainy screenshot of Hynninen and de los Ángeles in the 1980 Pelléas telecast from Madrid

Claude Debussy: Je ne te donne pas ma main si tu pars [Excerpt from Tower Scene] (Pelléas et Mélisande). Jorma Hynninen, Victoria de los Ángeles; Antonio Ros Marbá, Orquesta Nacional de España [live Madrid July 1980]

The late Mirella Freni and her husband Nicolai Ghiaurov as Tatyana and Prince Gremin in Yevgeny Onegin

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky: Final Scene [excerpt] (Yevgeny Onegin). Jorma Hynninen, Mirella Freni [live March 1989]

Jorma Hynninen as Amfortas in Parsifal

Richard Wagner: O Wonne! Freude! (Tristan und Isolde). Jorma Hynninen, Pekka Nuotio; Okko Kamu, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra [1976]

Pekka Nuotio
Hildegard Behrens as Elektra

Richard Strauss: Lass den Orest [excerpt from Recognition Scene] (Elektra). Jorma Hynninen, Hildegard Behrens; Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra [live Boston November 1988]

Jorma Hynninen as Mathis der Maler and Merja Wirkkala as Regina

Paul Hindemith: Auf denn zum letzen Stück des Wegs (Mathis der Maler). Jorma Hynninen; Esa-Pekka Salonen, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra [live Stockholm September 1995]

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Luigi Dallapiccola: Quegli occhi mi guaradavano (Il Prigioniero). Jorma Hynninen; Esa-Pekka Salonen, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra [live Stockholm March 1995]

Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975)
Jorma Hynninen in Ilkka Kuusisto’s 2006 opera Vapauden vanki (Prisoner of Freedom)

Jean Sibelius: En etsi valtaa loistoa [Give me neither power nor splendor] (Viisi joululaulua [Five Christmas Songs], Op.1/4). Jorma Hynninen; Orchestrated and conducted Ilkka Kuusisto [1976]

Ilkka Kuusisto (b. 1933)
Jorma Hynninen and Raita Karpo in Pohjalaisia (The Ostrobothnians)

Leevi Madetoja: Kärsiä! Ainako vain kärsiä [To suffer! Always to suffer!] (Pohjalaisia [The Ostrobothnians]). Jorma Hynninen; Jorma Panula, Finnish National Opera Orchestra [1975] & Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra [live Helsinki August 1997]

Jorma Hynninen as Jussi Harri in the 1981 filmed version of Pohjalaisia
Hynninen in the title role of Juha in the 1979 film of Madetoja’s opera

Leevi Madetoja: Marja! Sovitaan pois [Marja! Let’s make peace] (Juha). Jorma Hynninen, Maija Lokka; Jussi Jalas, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra [1977]

Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947)

Aarre Merikanto: Että saatoit sen minulle [She said it so bitterly] (Juha). Jorma Hynninen; Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra [1995]

Aarre Merikanto (1893-1958)
Hynninen as Topi in Punainen viiva (The Red Line)

Aulis Sallinen: Piirretään! Hyvähän se on sanoa [Draw! That’s easy to say!] (Punainen viiva [The Red Line]). Jorma Hynninen; Okko Kamu, Finnish National Opera Orchestra [1978]

Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) in the 1950s
In the title role of Kullervo

Aulis Sallinen: Tapasin hänet metsässä [I met her in the forest] (Kullervo). Jorma Hynninen, Eeva-Liisa Saarinen, Matti Salminen, Satu Vihavainen, Ulf Söderblom, Finnish National Opera Orchestra [1991]

Aulis Sallinen
Hynninen in the title role of Thomas

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Quis est…? Menkää! [Who is…? Get away!] (Thomas). Jorma Hynninen, Sini Rautavaara; Pekka Haapasalo, Joensuu City Orchestra, Savonlinna Opera Festival Chorus [1986]

Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016)
Hynninen in the title role of Vincent

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Kuuntele, Vincent! Kuuntele! [Listen, Vincent! Listen!] (Vincent). Jorma Hynninen, Sini Rautavaara, Marianne Harju, Marjatta Airas; Fuat Manchurov, Finnish National Opera Orchestra and Chorus [1990]

Rautavaara in the 1950s
Hynninen in the title role of Aleksis Kivi

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Epilogi. Voi, en löydä kotiani [Epilogue: I can’t find my way home] (Aleksis Kivi). Jorma Hynninen, Gabriel Suovanen, Eeva-Liisa Saarinen; Markus Lehtinen, Jyväskylä Sinfonia [2002]

Jorma Hynninen and Ville Rusanen as the older and younger Alexises
(in the recording this role is sung by Gabriel Suovanen)

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