Episode 71. Eidé Noréna

Episode 71. Eidé Noréna



Eidé Noréna in the title role of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegourochka [The Snow Maiden]

Kaja Eidé Noréna(1884-1968, née Karoline Hansen), the Norwegian lyric-coloratura soprano, is one of the greatest singers of her generation, and nearly forgotten today. She made her concert debut at the age of 19 and in 1907 began her operatic career as Amor in Orfeo ed Euridice. In 1909 she married the actor Egil Eide, through whose coaching she became celebrated for her dramatic portrayals. Under her married name Kaja Eide she became one of the Norway’s most famous singers, though her career was essentially a provincial one until, mid-career, she restudied her technique and rebuilt her voice, which led to her La Scala debut as Gilda under the baton of Arturo Toscanini (and under her new professional name, Eide Norena). She went on to an international career, performing in the world’s most celebrated opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Salzburg Festival, and, particularly, the Paris Opéra. Her repertoire was a wide one, ranging from Ophélie to Desdemona, and her vocal technique was solid to the point of near-perfection, her legato singing being particularly remarkable. What sets her apart, and what makes her one of my favorite singers, is her profoundly musical interpretations allied to her keen dramatic sense. The majority of the recordings featured on the episode are from the 1930s. Noréna retired in 1938 and spent the remainder of her life in Switzerland, where she died in 1968. Noréna is, for me, everything that a great singer should be, and it is a particular honor for me to feature her on the podcast.

A bonus episode posted today on my Patreon page (www.patreon.com/countermelody) features Noréna in the role of Juliette in Gounod’s opera, including both live and studio recordings of duets with Charles Hackett and Gaston Micheletti.

And a link to the article about Noréna that I wrote in 2007 for my long-defunct blog: www.counterleben.blogspot.com/2007/07/fairy-from-ice.html


Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg: Right as the Rain (Bloomer Girl). Victoria Clark [from Fifteen Seconds of Grace, 2007]

Yip Harburg (1896-1981) and Harold Arlen (1905-1986)

All other recordings on today’s podcast feature Eidé Noréna.

George Frederic Handel: Care selve (Atalanta). Orchestra conducted by Joseph Messner [1937]

As Urbain in Les Huguenots

Giacomo Meyerbeer: Nobles seigneurs, salut (Les Huguenots) [sung in Norwegian] [1911]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Durch Zärtlichkeit (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) [sung in French]. Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1934]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Non mi dir (Don Giovanni) [sung in French]. Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1934]

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Hymn to the Sun (Le Coq d’Or) [sung in French]. Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1932]

Herman Bemberg (1859-1931)

Herman Bemberg: Nymphes et Sylvains. Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola

This iconic photo “The American Way” by Margaret Bourke-White,
shows victims of the 1937 flooding of the Ohio River

Waldemar Thrane: Kom kjyra! [Norwegian Echo Song] (Red Cross relief concert) [1937 radio broadcast]

Waldemar Thrane (1790-1828)
Agathe Backer Grøndahl (1847-1907)

Agathe Backer Grøndahl, arr. Jean Vuillermoz: Mot kveld [At Sunset]. Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola

Piero Coppola (1888-1971)
Young Kaja

Gabriel Fauré: Après un rêve, Op. 7/1. Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1933]

Jacques Offenbach: Elle a fui, la tourterelle (Les contes d’Hoffmann). Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1932]

Charles Gounod: Dieu! c’est comme une main… Ah, je ris de me voir (Faust). Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1933]

Ambroise Thomas: Il garde le silence (Hamlet). Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1933]

Ambroise Thomas: Mad Scene [excerpt] (Hamlet). Orchestra conducted by Henri Defossé [1930]

Giacomo Puccini: Donde lieta uscì (La bohème). Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1933]

Giuseppe Verdi: Ah! fors’è lui… Sempre libera (La Traviata). Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1932]

Gioacchino Rossini: Sombre forêt (Guillaume Tell). Orchestra conducted by Henri Defossé [1930]

Giuseppe Verdi: Piangea cantando (Otello). Orchestra conducted by François Ruhlmann [1938]

As Butterfly in the early years of her career

Giacomo Puccini: Tanto amore segreto (Turandot). Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1932]

Edvard Grieg: Våren, Op. 33/2. Orchestra conducted by Piero Coppola [1932]

Noréna’s first husband was the actor and director Egil Eide (1868-1946)
Below, a drawing of Eide and Noréna together
by caricaturist Fredrik Christian Bødtker (1869-1931)

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