Episode 105. Teresa Żylis-Gara

Episode 105. Teresa Żylis-Gara (In Memoriam)

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Teresa Żylis-Gara (23 January 1930 – 28 August 2021)

One of my very favorite singers, the Polish soprano Teresa Żylis-Gara, died on Saturday 28 August at the age of 91. I had been planning a birthday episode dedicated to her next January, but instead I present a heartfelt tribute in memoriam. Over a long career and as her voice developed, Żylis-Gara moved deftly and skillfully from performances of Baroque music through French, Russian, Verdi, and Puccini and even verismo heroines, always with her trademark vocal glamour, technical acuity and musical refinement. I offer live and studio examples of this under-recorded artist, a favorite at the Metropolitan Opera between 1968 and 1984, including early Monteverdi, Bach, and Handel, moving through her career-making assumption of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and touching also on her recital work, and concluding with her definitive performances of Desdemona in Otello and Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder.

Countermelody is a podcast devoted to the glory and the power of the human voice raised in song. Singer and vocal aficionado Daniel Gundlach explores great singers of the past and present focusing in particular on those who are less well-remembered today than they should be. Daniel’s lifetime in music as a professional countertenor, pianist, vocal coach, voice teacher, and journalist yields an exciting array of anecdotes, impressions, and “inside stories.” Occasional guests from the “business” (singers, conductors, composers, coaches, and teachers) lend their distinctive insights. At Countermelody’s core is the interaction between singers of all stripes, their instruments, and the connection they make to the words they sing. At Countermelody’s core is the interaction between singers of all stripes, their instruments, and the connection they make to the words they sing. Please visit the Countermelody website (www.countermelodypodcast.com) for additional content including artist photos and episode setlists. And please head to my Patreon page at www.patreon.com/countermelody to pledge your monthly support at whatever level you can afford. Twenty-five exclusive bonus episodes are currently available to Patreon supporters.

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Sculpture in Radziejowice Park

Giuseppe Verdi: Requiem aeternam (excerpt from Libera me [Messa da Requiem]. Teresa Żylis-Gara, Kazimierz Kord, Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir [1979]

Claudio Monteverdi, ed. Erich Kraack: Signor, oggi rinasco ai primi fiori (L’incoronazione di Poppea). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Wilhelm Ernst, Günther Wich, Düßeldorfer Symphoniker [1965]

Wolfgang Gönnenwein (29 January 1933 – 26 July 2015)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Seele, deine Spezerein (Oster-Oratorium, BWV 249). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Hartmut Strebel, Wolfgang Gönnenwein, Das Süddeutsche Kammerorchester [1965]

Who could guess that such wonderful singing would be
concealed in the grooves of a record with this unprepossessing cover?

George Frideric Handel: Ah! spietato (Amadigi). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Fritz Lehan, Consortium Musicum [1966]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lorenzo da Ponte: In quali eccessi, o numi… Mi tradì  quell’alma ingrata (Don Giovanni). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Jacek Kaspszyk, Orkiestra Opery Poznańskiej [Orchestra of the Poznań Opera] [live Poznań 10 December 1977]

Jacek Kaspszyk (born 10 August 1952)

Charles Gounod: Ah! je ris de me voir si belle (Faust). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Jacek Kaspszyk, Orkiestra Opery Poznańskiej [Orchestra of the Poznań Opera] [live Poznań 10 December 1977]

Giacomo Puccini: Sì, mi chiamano Mimì (La bohème). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Jacek Kaspszyk, Orkiestra Opery Poznańskiej [Orchestra of the Poznań Opera] [live Poznań 10 December 1977]

Giacomo Puccini: Signore, ascolta! (Turandot). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Zubin Mehta, Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin [live Berlin 22 June 1975]

As Halka at her operatic debut in Moniuszko’s opera of the same title.

Stanisław Moniuszko: Paria, oh Paria [Neala’s Romance] (Paria). Teresa Zylis-Gara, Kazimierz Kord, Polish Philharmonic [1979]

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky: Пускай погибну я [Tatyana’s Letter Scene) (Yevgeny Onegin). Teresa Zylis-Gara, Kazimierz Kord, Polish Philharmonic [1979]

Antonín Dvořák: Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém [Song to the Moon] (Rusalka). Teresa Zylis-Gara, Kazimierz Kord, Polish Philharmonic [1979]

Gioacchino Rossini: Ah! se privo di speme è l’amore (Guglielmo Tell). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Jacques Delacôte, Orchester der Hamburgischer Staatsoper [live Hamburg 1974]

Giuseppe Verdi: Arrigo, ah parli a un core (I vespri siciliani). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Ulrich Weder, Beethoven Orchester Bonn [live Bonn 11 Jun 1987]

Giuseppe Verdi: Ei m’affisa… Deh, mi reggi, m’aita, o Signor (Un ballo in maschera). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Orchestre National de France [live Paris 1983]

Halina Czerny-Stefańska (31 December 1922 – 1 July 2001)

Frédéric Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz: Moja pieszczotka [My sweet love], Op.74/12. Teresa Żylis-Gara, Halina Czerny-Stefańska [1981], Waldemar Malicki [1995]

Erik Werba (23 May 1918 – 9 April 1992)

Karol Szymanowski, Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz: Ledwie blask słońca [The sun barely glistens] (Pieśni muezina szalonego [Songs of the Lovesick Muezzin], Op. 42/3)). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Erik Werba [live Salzburg 29 July 1974]

Jerzy Marchwiński (born 6 January 1935)

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, Ivan Zakharovich Surikov: Я ли в поле да не травушка была [Was I not a little blade of grass?], Op.47/7. Teresa Zylis-Gara, Jerzy Marchwiński [1983]

Giuseppe Verdi: Ave Maria (Otello). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Lorin Maazel, Orchestre National de France [live Orange 1975]

At her 90th birthday gala, 26 January 2020

Richard Strauss, Heinrich Heine: Beim Schlafengehen (Vier letzte Lieder). Teresa Żylis-Gara, Ronald Leonard, Zubin Mehta, Los Angeles Philharmonic [live Los Angeles November 1977]

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