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KARAJAN conducts Die Fledermaus Ballet & Gala, plus Waltzes and Overtures - PACO070

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KARAJAN conducts Die Fledermaus Ballet & Gala, plus Waltzes and Overtures - PACO070-CD
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Renata Tebaldi
Birgit Nilsson
Jussi Björling
Leontyne Price
Ettore Bastianini
Joan Sutherland
Ljuba Welitsch

(Full listing below)

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & State Opera Chorus
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Herbert von Karajan
, conductor

Recorded Vienna 1960 and Berlin 1940-42

XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, December 2011
Front cover artwork based on a photograph of Herbert von Karajan rehearsing Fledermaus

Total duration: 74:28
©2011 Pristine Audio.


Ballet and Gala Performance from Karajan's 1960 Fledermaus

Plus four stunning Strauss recordings from 1940-42


  • JOHANN STRAUSS II Die Fledermaus - Ballet
  • LEHAR, LEON, STEIN Vilia-Lied (The Merry Widow)
    Renata Tebaldi
    Fernando Corena
  • LOEWE, LERNER I Could Have Danced All Night (My Fair Lady)
    Birgit Nilsson
    Mario del Monaco
  • LAVILLA Lullaby
    Teresa Berganza
  • ARDITI Il bacio
    Joan Sutherland
  • LEHAR Dein ist mein ganzes Hertz (Land of Smiles)
    Jussi Björling
  • GERSHWIN, GERSHWIN, HEYWARD Summertime (Porgy and Bess)
    Leontyne Price
  • BERLIN Anything you can do (Annie Get Your Gun)
    Giulietta Simionato & Ettore Bastianini
  • SIECZYNSKI Wien, Wien nur du allein
    Ljuba Welitsch

    Recorded at the Sofiensaal, Vienna, 12-20 June, 1960
    Produced by John Culshaw, Christopher Raeburn and Erik Smith
    Engineered by James Brown (stereo) and Gordon Parry (mono)
    First issued in November 1960 as Decca SET201-3
    Transfers from Decca SET 202/3

    Presented in Stereo

    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & State Opera Chorus
    Herbert von Karajan

  • STRAUSS Künstlerleben, Op. 316
  • STRAUSS Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437
  • STRAUSS Der Zigeunerbaron - Overture
  • STRAUSS Die Fledermaus - Overture


    Recorded Raum IX, Alte Jacobstrasse 31/32, Berlin, 7 June 1940
    Recorded Raum IX, Alte Jacobstrasse 31/32, Berlin, 6 September 1941
    Recorded 21 October 1942
    Transfers from Polydor 67585, 67649, 67997, 68043
    Presented in Ambient Stereo

    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Herbert von Karajan


    There's absolutely no hard information given with the LP booklet as to exactly who's playing on the gala sequence. The nearest we get is some passages in John Culshaw's note:

    "In producing this Gala Performance of Johann Strauss's "Fledermaus" for records we have tried to surround the self-contained vivacity of the music with dialogue and effects "paced" according to the atmosphere of each act: the intimate, drawing-room comedy of the first, the bustle and gaiety of Orlofsky's party in the second, and four-in-the-morning hangover which persists for the first part of the third. The Gala sequence itself, in which many of the world's greatest opera singers appear in a series of party turns, is based on a tradition preserved in several opera houses (notably the Metropolitan, New York) for the special New Year's Eve performance. It fits neatly into the second act and demands no modification in Strauss's original score.

    Making the recording of the second act was something of a party itself. In addition to the principals and the Vienna Philharmonic, hundreds of "extras" and several small bands took part so that one should be able to imagine the guests moving from one part of the palace to another: from the gambling room to the garden, and from Orlofsky's reception hall to the dance floor. For example, immediately after those who are surrounding Adele have applauded her aria another burst of applause is heard some distance away, signifying the arrival of Frank disguised as the Chevalier Chargrin, while the band in that part of the building greets him with a suitable anthem. A different sort of innovation occurs in the Act 3 melodrama, immediately after Frosch's opening monologue. Since records cannot convey the comic mime for which this passage was written, we have devised a sort of aural equivalent — the incident of Frosch's disastrous encounter with an ancient Viennese coffee machine.

    This, then, is a Gala Fledermaus produced and recorded in Johann Strauss's own city, Vienna — indeed, in a hall in which he himself frequently appeared. Perhaps this contributed more than anything else to the atmosphere we were trying to re-create: the "Schwung", the comedy and the elegance of this incomparable operetta."

    Philip Stuart's Decca Discography states the following were recorded as a part of the main sessions:

    Dein ist mein ganzes Herz - Jussi Björling (tenor)
    Summertime - Leontyne Price (soprano)
    Wien, Wien nur du allein - Ljuba Welitsch (soprano)
    I could have danced all night - Birgit Nilsson (soprano)
    Anything you can do - Giulietta Simionato (mezzo-soprano)
    & Ettore Bastianini (baritone)

    It then adds:

    Five more “guests” were recorded in London and Rome in Jun-Jly 60.

    I tracked down first the Rome recordings:

    Pr: John Culshaw Eng: Roy Wallace
    [ab] 18-19 & [c] 25-26 Jly 1960 Santa Cecilia, Rome
    [a] Passione - Mario Del Monaco (tenor)
    [b] Domino - Fernando Corena (bass)
    [c] Vilja - Renata Tebaldi (soprano)

    Then the London sessions:

    Pr: Michael Bremner Eng: Alan Abel (m), Cyril Windebank (s)
    [a-g] 8-11 & [h] 10 Jun 1960 Kingsway Hall
    Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano); [h] Felix Lavilla (piano);
    [a-g] Royal Opera House Orchestra, Alexander Gibson
    [a] HANDEL Giulio Cesare HWV17 : Piangerò, la sorte mia
    [b] PERGOLESI La Serva Padrona : Stizzoso, mio stizzoso
    [c] GLUCK Alceste : Divinités du Styx
    [d] GLUCK Orfeo ed Euridice : Che farò & Che puro ciel
    [e] GLUCK Paride ed Elena : O del mio dolce ardor
    [f] PAISIELLO Nina Pazza per Amore : Il mio ben
    [g] CHERUBINI Medea : Medea, O Medea
    [h] Lullaby [for Prince Orlofsky’s Gala Ball]

    Pr: James Walker Eng: Arthur Lilley
    26 Jly 1960 West Hampstead Studios
    Joan Sutherland (soprano), ensemble
    ARDITI Il bacio - waltz song [for Prince Orlofsky’s Gala Ball]


REVIEW Original LP issue (excerpt)

There is indeed a whole procession of turns or party pieces added in to the festivities at the place (after "Dui-du") where custom sometimes interpolates a long ballet sequence. Here we get an inch or so of party music and then, like a cabaret, come the interpolations. Miss Resnik as Orlofsky (not quite as dashing as one could have wished in "Chacun a son gout") is supposed to be entertaining not merely "die schoene junge Ratten" from the Opera but a galaxy of Decca's top recording stars as well. There is polyglottery a la St. John's Wood: jokes in English and Italian as well as the current German and, for the purist I daresay, a very considerable disruption of the kind of mood so far established. Tebaldi leads off with a very serious, slightly heavy but beautiful "Viljalied" (in German). Corena obliges with the sort of song I associate with Yves Montand, also charming. These like every other item elicit a tumultuous welccrne frcm the other guests. Nilsson's song from My Fair Lady is sung in excellent English; does the conjunction of music and artist show up either? I know which comes off second best: the composer. One just longs for him to provide something for this Brunnhilde to get her teeth into! I could have done without del Monaco in this particular drawing-room, but it too earns vociferous applause; Berganza's basque Lullaby is lovely, so are Leontyne Price's "Summertime" and in its daring and agility, Miss Sutherland's Waltz. The late Jussi Bjorling begins "You are my heart's delight" in Swedish and finishes it in German (this has brought us to side five), Simionato and Bastianini get a smile out of the incongruity of their double act and last of all, rather touchingly, Ljuba Welitsch expressing the hope that she is really welcome at the party, sings from the heart Wein, wein nur du allein; thus more or less bringing us back to the locale, if hardly the mood of Die Fledermaus.

What are the rights and wrongs of this interlude? Apparently it follows a tradition honoured on New Year's Eve at the Metropolitan, where other artists not actually singing in the performance contribute something to the party. It is after all only following up the precedent whereby eminent divas in the last century used to sing Comin' through the rye and the Carnival of Venice during the singing lesson scene in The Barber of Seville. (I've heard the Shadow Song thus introduced as late as about 1936 at Covent Garden.)

Some people will frown. I should like to be present when Desmond Shawe-Taylor unpacks his copies. On the other hand I have played it to persons of highbrow and middle-brow taste and neither was in any way "shocked", only amused. After all, one can quite easily skip (or fairly easily, though one would find it easier to begin again with the prison scene).

P. H-W. - The Gramophone, November 1960 (link)

Notes on the recordings:

Our remastering of Karajan's 1960 Die Fledermaus (PACO 068) was drawn from the a 1962 SXL issue which excluded the Ballet and Gala sequence of the original LPs. Immediately following the release I was asked by a number of correspondents to restore both the Gala (which also appears on the current Decca CD reissue) and the Ballet (which does not). For my own personal tastes the present, separate release, is a more satisfactory solution both to the interruption otherwise of the flow Die Fledermaus, and to the difficulties of fitting the entire thing onto two CDs. I have applied exactly the same XR remastering treatments to the Ballet and Gala as were applied to the previous issue and faded out the present recording at the point at which the two begin to match once more.

This splitting of the works not only allows for the Ballet to be issued, but also for us to explore Herbert von Karajan's four Johann Strauss recordings of the early 1940s, made with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for 78rpm release by Deutsche Grammophon. In each case the recordings have been completely transformed from dull, wartime issue sound into music which sparkles and shines in a quite remarkable and unexpected manner. Despite the occasional flaw one expects from recordings of this vintage, the detail and range of the recordings is astonishing when heard in these 32-bit XR-remastered reincarnations.

Andrew Rose






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PACO070 cover

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Cue sheet

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