Episode 156. Barely Sang at the Met II

Episode 156. Barely Sang at the Met II



Erna Schlüter as Elektra, London 1953

This week is the conclusion of my presentation on world-class singers who made a minimal number of appearances at the Metropolitan Opera. My arbitrary parameters for this episode were singers who appeared (approximately) between the years 1950 and 1975 and sang fewer than ten performances in total at that venerable institution. Among the artists featured are the British singers Josephine Veasey and Anne Howells (both of whom we lost earlier this year), as well as Stafford Dean and Alberto Remedios; the French-Canadian tenors Léopold Simoneau and Richard Verreau; the Romanians Ludovic Spiess and Marina Krilovici; the US-American dramatic coloratura Margherita Roberti; the Australian super-soprano Joan Carden; the Italian sopranos Maria Chiara and Luisa Malagrida; the French falcon Jane Rhodes; the Austrians Eberhard Wächter and Otto Wiener; the Finnish heldentenor Pekka Nuotio; and the Germans Josef Greindl, Walburga Wegner, Erna Schlüter and Christel Goltz. Met stalwarts Monserrat Caballé, Shirley Verrett, Ramón Vinay, and Jorma Hynninen are featured as vocal guest stars; conductors include such greats as Dimitri Mitroupoulos, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Thomas Beecham, Carlo Felice Cillario, and Arthur Rodziński..

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.” At Countermelody’s core is the celebration of great singers of all stripes, their instruments, and the connection they make to the words they sing. By clicking on the following link (https://linktr.ee/CountermelodyPodcast) you can find the dedicated Countermelody website which contains additional content including artist photos and episode setlists. The link will also take you to Countermelody’s Patreon page, where you can pledge your monthly support at whatever level you can afford. Bonus episodes available exclusively to Patreon supporters are currently available and further bonus content including interviews and livestreams is planned for the upcoming season.


Vincenzo Bellini, Felice Romani: Mira, o Norma (Norma). Josephine Veasey, Montserrat Caballé, Giuseppe Patanè, Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino [live Orange 20.VII.74]

Josephine Veasey (10 July 1930 – 22 February 2022) sang six performances of Fricka during the Met’s 1968-69 season: four in Das Rheingold, and two in Die Walküre.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lorenzo da Ponte [né Emanuele Conegliano]: Smanie implacabili (Così fan tutte). Anne Howells, Peter Maag, Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice [live Venezia 1983]

Anne Howells (12 January 1941 – 18 May 2022) sang a total of 14 performances at the Met: 6 as Dorabella at the end of calendar year 1975, and 8 as Niklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann at the end of the 1981-82 season.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lorenzo da Ponte (né Emanuele Conegliano): Madamina! Il catalogo è questo (Don Giovanni). Stafford Dean, Alexander Gibson, Scottish Chamber Orchestra [1975]

Stafford Dean (born 20 June 1937) sang 7 performances of Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro in February and March 1976.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lorenzo da Ponte: Un’aura amorosa (Così fan tutte). Léopold Simoneau, Bernhard Paumgartner, Wiener Symphoniker [1956]

Léopold Simoneau (03 May 1916 – 24 August 2006) sang four performances of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni in the fall of 1963.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Emanuel Schikaneder [né Johann Joseph Schickeneder]: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (Die Zauberflöte). Ludovic Spiess, Jean Bobescu, Bucharest Romanian Opera Orchestra [1969]

In the year 1971 Romanian tenor Ludovic Spiess (13 May 1938 – 29 January 2006) sang a total of five performances at the Met: two as Manrico (his debut), one as Florestan, and two as Canio.

Jules Massenet, Henri Meilhac, Philippe Gille (after Abbé Prévost): Ah, fuyez, douce image (Manon). Richard Verreau, Wilfrid Pelletier, Symphony Orchestra of Turin [1960]

French-Canadian tenor Richard Verreau (01 January 1926 – 06 July 2005) sang a total of five performances at the Met between 1963 and 1965: a single performance in the title role of Faust, his debut; two as Des Grieux in Manon; and one appearance in a concert entitled “The Mysterious East” in which he sang excerpts from Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Lakmé, Turandot, and Madama Butterfly.

Richard Wagner: Die beste Ärztin bald ich fand… Isolde kommt! (Tristan und Isolde). Pekka Nuotio, Jorma Hynninen, Okko Kamu, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra [1976]

Finnish tenor Pekka Nuotio (21 February 1929 – 17 March 1989) sang a total of 8 Met performances in 1966 and 1967: six as Tannhäuser and two as Tristan.

Jorma Hynninen: a dual portrait

Richard Wagner: O du mein holder Abendstern (Tannhäuser). Eberhard Wächter, Artur Rodziński, Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI [live Rome 14.XI.57]

Viennese baritone Eberhard Wächter (09 July 1929 – 29 March 1992) sang only three performances at the Met, of his signature role of Wolfram in the winter of 1961.

Fromental Halévy, Eugène Scribe [Karl August von Lichtenstein, German translation]: Wenn ew’ger Hass [Si la rigueur] (La juive [Die Jüdin]). Josef Greindl, Leopold Ludwig, Münchener Philharmoniker [1954]

German Wagnerian bass Josef Greindl (23 December 1912 – 16 April 1993) sang a total of nine performances at the Met during the 1952-53 season in the secondary roles of King Heinrich in Lohengrin (5) and Veit Pogner in Meistersinger (4).

Giuseppe Verdi, Arrigo Boito (after William Shakespeare): Poi mi guidavi ai fulgidi deserti (Otello). Alberto Remedios, Joan Carden, Carlo Felice Cillario, Opera Australia Orchestra [live Sydney 28.I.84]

Liverpudlian jugendlich dramatisch tenor Alberto Remedios (27 February 1935 – 11 June 2016) sang a total of six Met performances as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos in the spring of 1976 opposite Montserrat Caballé and Johanna Meier. Australian soprano Joan Carden (born 09 October 1937) sang 8 performances of Donna Anna on the Met’s 1978 spring tour. She never performed in the house.

Giuseppe Verdi, Andrea Maffei (after Friedrich Schiller): Venerabile, o padre… Lo sguardo avea degli angeli (I Masnadieri). Margherita Roberti, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Firenze [live Firenze 18.VI.63]

The incredibly gifted dramatic coloratura American soprano Margherita Roberti (née Margaret Jean Roberts, 27 June 1925 – 23 January 2021) sang three performances of two roles at the Met in the winter of 1962, two of Tosca, her debut role, and one of Aida.

Giuseppe Verdi, Francesco Maria Piave (after Ángel de Saavedra): Pace, pace, mio Dio (La forza del destino). Marina Krilovici, Otto-Werner Mueller, Montréal Symphony Orchestra [live Montréal, Palais des Arts, VI. 67] (Concours International d’Art Vocal Montréal 1967)

Bucharest-born soprano Marina Krilovici (11 June 1942) sang a total of seven performances at the Met, three of her debut role of Cio-Cio San in 1973; three of Giorgetta in Il Tabarro; and one of Leonora in Il Trovatore on the 1977 Met tour.

Alfredo Catalani, Angelo Zanardini, Giuseppe Depanis, Carlo D’Ormeville: Amor, celeste ebbrezza (Loreley). Maria Chiara, Kurt Herbert Adler, National Philharmonic Orchestra [1977]

Italian soprano Maria Chiara (born 24 November 1939) sang four performances of Violetta at the Met in December 1977.

Ildebrando Pizzetti, (libretto by Pizzetti after Gabriel d’Annunzio): Vergine sante, fatemi la grazio (La Figlia di Jorio). Luisa Malagrida, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Orchestra del Teatro San Carlo [live Napoli 04.XII.54]

Italian soprano Luisa Malagrida (05 November 1920 – 04 August 2008), a versatile singer celebrated in particular for her creation of new roles, sang exactly two performances of Leonora in Il Trovatore in the 1963-64 Met season.

Sergei Prokofiev (libretto by Prokofiev after Valery Bryusov, translated by Michel Anchey: Il venait me voir très souvent (L’ange de feu). Jane Rhodes, Charles Bruck, Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Paris [1957]

French falcon Jane Rhodes (13 March 1929 – 07 May 2011) sang a total of five performances at the Met: a single one of her signature role of Carmen in November 1960, and four as Salome in the winter of 1962, an interpretation which evenly divided critics.

Alban Berg (libretto by Berg after Frank Wedekind): Das mein Lebensabend (Lulu). Otto Wiener, Ilona Steingruber, Herbert Häfner, Wiener Symphoniker [1949]

Viennese bass-baritone Otto Wiener (13 February 1911 – 05 August 2000) sang four performances at the Met of Hans Sachs, his signature role, in the fall of 1962.

Richard Strauss, Hugo von Hofmannsthal (after Sophocles): Sie schlugen dich im Bade tot (Elektra). Erna Schlüter, Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra [live London 10.47]

Erna Schlüter as Turandot

German soprano Erna Schlüter (05 February 1904 – 01 December 1969), in my opinion one of the greatest Elektras in the history of the part, sang two enormously unsuccessful Met performances in 1947, one as Isolde and one as the Marschallin (a performance in which Eleanor Steber sang one of her final Sophies). She was never asked back.

Richard Strauss, Hedwig Lachmann (after Oscar Wilde): Ach! Warum hast du mich nicht angeseh’n? (Salome). Walburga Wegner, Rudolf Moralt, Wiener Symphoniker [1954]

German soprano Walburga Wegner (25 August 1908 – 23 February 1993) sang a handful of performances at the Met in the early months of 1952: four of Chrysothemis, a moderate critical success; and three of Eva in Meistersinger, in which reviews were less enthusiastic.

Richard Strauss, Hedwig Lachmann (after Oscar Wilde): Ich habe deinen Mund geküßt (Salome). Christel Goltz, Ramón Vinay, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra [live New York 08.I.55]

German soprano Christel Goltz (8 July 1912 – 14 November 2008) sang six performances as Salome in the winter of 1954-55, her only appearances at the Met.

Vincenzo Bellini, Felice Romani: Cedi, deh, cedi… Sì, fino all’ore estreme (Norma). Josephine Veasey, Shirley Verrett, Edward Downes, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden [London 22.XI.79]

When Shirley Verrett took her celebrated Norma to Covent Garden, she was in better health and therefore better voice than when she had sung it earlier that same year at the Met, where she was also cast against a much less vocally appropriate Adalgisa.

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