Siegmund - Ramón Vinay Sieglinde - Regina Resnik Wotan - Hans Hotter Brünnhilde - Astrid Varnay Hunding - Josef Greindl Fricka - Ira Malaniuk Gerhilde - Brünnhild Friedland Ortlinde - Bruni Falcon Waltraute - Lise Sorrell Schwertleite - Maria von Ilosvay Helmwige - Liselotte Thomamüller Siegrune - Gisela Litz Grimgerde - Sibylla Plate Rossweisse - Erika Schubert
Choir and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival
conductor Clemens Krauss
Live concert recording, Bayreuth Festival, 9th August 1953
CD, MP3 and FLAC information:
CDs: Triple set - The second act of this recording is a little too long for a single CD and so it has been necessary to fade the audio (during a natural pause in the music) in order to accommodate the recording on audio CDs - Act 2 begins at the end of CD1 and concludes on CD2. Acts 1 and 3 are presented uninterrupted on CDs 1 and 3 respectively.
FLACs: No fades have been applied to the FLAC files. If you wish to transfer FLACs to audio CD you may of course split the recording wherever you prefer from the tracks you download. If you're listening from a non-CD source replay will be continuous through each act. There is a "fade to black" between acts.
MP3: Purchasers will receive two sets of files, both as Zip files within a single large Zip file:
- a single long, continuous MP3 with no breaks within acts, together with accompanying cue sheet for track splitting
- a trio of MP3s which correspond to the three CDs as outlined above, complete with individual cue sheets
Please check our help section for help with FLAC, MP3, Cue and Zip files.
A few short weeks before this recording was issued we took our first tentative steps in the remastering of this, one of the greatest Ring cycles of all time, with our issue of Das Rheingold. Noting that the entire cycle was available elsewhere at budget price, the decision to spend the enormous time and effort involved in producing a full XR remastering of these increasingly lengthy operas was taken with some trepidation. I wanted to be absolutely sure that I could bring a major transformation to the sound quality of the recordings - one which not only satisfied me, but also the legions of Wagner lovers who already knew these recordings well.
The responses to that first Rheingold issue were nothing if not encouraging:
"...the Krauss is my favourite Ring of the moment, and I own it in two other incarnations, so I am in a good position to judge the improvements that Andrew Rose has achieved. The sound is more open and focused than ever before and it is a real treat to hear the finest singers of their generation sing their signature roles in a faithful representation of the Bayreuth ‘noise’. The audio spectrum has been cleaned at the top and opened out at the bottom. Hans Hotter sings his best Wotan, slightly more sensitively than for Keilberth in the Testament stereo Ring, and in far fresher voice than for Solti in the 1960s. Astrid Varnay is marvellous as Brunnhilde, and has the benefit of really attentive, flexible conducting. Clemens Krauss’ approach may not be to everyone’s taste, being at the other end of the tempo spectrum to Knappertsbusch, but to my ears the naturalness of what he does serves the composer without drawing attention to itself..."
"...I just downloaded and played he 53 Krauss Rheingold that you recently released. it is utterly fantastic! Much more alive than the CDs out there. When will Die Walkure be released?..."
"Yesterday I downloaded your XR remastering of Das Rheingold. What a superb job you have done with it. I own the Krauss Ring on Archipel, but what an astonishing improvement the Pristine version means. I just would let you know, since I am so enthusiastic about it. Looking forward to Die Walküre!..."
Since these initial comments from listeners, I've been continually nagged by e-mails requesting Die Walküre, and naturally given the success of Das Rheingold, I was somewhat nervous with regard to my ability to match up to that standard.
I should not have been. If anything, this was a better-made recording to begin with. This of course makes sense - recorded a day after the first Ring opera, the opportunity would have been there to make adjustments to microphone placement and recording equipment based on the experience of the previous day's taping.
As a result, Die Walküre frequently surpasses Das Rheingold in overall sound quality - it truly sounds wonderful throughout. I've managed to deal with various faults which existed in the recording - hums, high frequency tones, occasional drop-outs, a tendency to high-frequency 'fuzz' around 10kHz, and removed a number of coughs and other intrusions.
But above all the delight for this listener of this new remastering will be the absolute clarity and stunning sound quality of the whole - the perfect balance of orchestra and voice for which Bayreuth was designed is conveyed brilliantly in one of the finest opera recordings and performances I've ever heard.
Both her parents were Hungarian, but she was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Her mother Maria Javor was a noted coloratura soprano with acoustic recordings to her credit, and her father Alexander was a spinto tenor. Opera was the family business and Varnay grew up backstage at the world's opera houses. Her father founded, and both parents ran, the Opera Comique Theater in Kristiania (later Oslo), Norway. At one time Astrid was swaddled in the lower drawer of the dressing room table of the young Kirsten Flagstad.
The family moved to Argentina, then New York, where her father died at age 35 in 1924. Two years later her mother married tenor Fortunato de Angelis. Varnay had been studying to be a pianist but decided at age eighteen to become a singer and had intensive vocal lessons with her mother.
A year later, Flagstad arranged for her to start preparing roles with Metropolitan Opera staff conductor and coach Hermann Weigert (1890-1955). By the age of 22 she knew Hungarian, German, English, French and Italian and her repertoire consisted of fifteen leading dramatic soprano roles, eleven of which were Wagnerian parts. She also had formidable mezzo-soprano capability, which she displayed in performances as Ortrud and Klytemnestra.
She made her sensational debut at the Metropolitan Opera on 6 December 1941 in a broadcast performance singing Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre, substituting for the indisposed Lotte Lehmann with almost no rehearsal. This was her first appearance in a leading role, and it was a triumph. Six days later she replaced the ailing Helen Traubel as Brünnhilde in the same opera. Varnay and Weigert became closer and were married in 1944. It was also at this time that she had lessons with former Metropolitan Opera tenor, Paul Althouse.
In 1948 she made her debut at Covent Garden and in 1951 in Florence as Lady Macbeth. In that year she also made her debut at Bayreuth after Flagstad, who had declined the invitation to Bayreuth, recommended that Wieland Wagner engage Varnay. She sang at Bayreuth for the next seventeen years, and appeared regularly at the Metropolitan until 1956.
She left when it was clear that the Met director Rudolf Bing did not appreciate her, and went on to become a mainstay of the world's other great opera houses, especially in Germany, in Wagner and Strauss but also several Verdi and other roles. She had already made Munich her home, where audiences considered her a goddess.
In 1969 she gave up her repertoire of heavy dramatic soprano roles and began a new career singing mezzo roles. After being the world's leading Elektra for over twenty years, she now established herself as a great interpreter of Klytemnestra. The role of Herodias became her most often-performed role: 236 performances. She returned to the Metropolitan in 1974 and last appeared there in Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in 1979.
In the mid-1980s, character roles now became Varnay's metier. Her last appearance on stage was in Munich in 1995, fifty-five years after her Metropolitan debut. In 1998 she published her autobiography Fifty-Five Years in Five Acts: My Life in Opera, written with Donald Arthur (German title is Hab'mir's gelobt).
In 2004, a documentary about her life and first New York career entitled Never Before received acclaim in the USA. Her recordings of Strauss heroines such as Elektra and Salome along with the Wagnerian roles are among the treasures of the medium, while transcriptions of broadcast performances of her great roles document her art in sound, and a few video recordings of her late career preserve evidence of her acting ability.
Astrid Varnay died in Munich on 4 September 2006, aged 88
Ramón Vinay (August 31, 1911 [some sources say 1912] – January 4, 1996) was a famous Chilean operatictenor with a powerful, dramatic voice. He is probably best remembered for his appearances in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's tragic opera Otello.
The young Vinay was encouraged by his mother to learn to sing. He commenced his opera career as a baritone in Mexico in 1938. He later switched to tenor, making a second debut in 1943 and forging a successful international career after World War II . Vinay eventually returned to the baritone fold in 1962 and retired from the stage in 1969.
Even as a tenor, however, his vocal timbre retained its dark, baritonal colouration.
Born in Chillán, Chile, Vinay earned particular renown throughout the operatic world for his interpretation of the role of Otello. For a time, he made the part his own. Perhaps his most significant appearance as Otello occurred in 1947, in a radio broadcast of the opera under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. His colleagues on this occasion were Herva Nelli, Giuseppe Valdengo and Nan Merriman, together with the NBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This performance was subsequently issued by RCA Victor on both LP and CD. In recent years, it has appeared on CDs issued by other companies, notably on the Guild label. Many critics consider it the best complete Otello ever recorded.
A fine actor, Vinay was also the first tenor to sing the role of Otello on television. That was in 1948, in the initial telecast of an entire opera from the Met. He also sang Otello at La Scala, in Salzburg and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In all, he performed it hundreds of times. He is said to be the only opera singer to have sung both Otello and Iago (the baritone villain) in Verdi's tragic masterpiece during the course of a career.