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Subject: Re: Eileen Farrell
From: James Bodge <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:James Bodge <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 30 Oct 1998 09:02:35 -0500

text/plain (42 lines)

At 12:01 PM 10/28/98 -0500, affron wrote:

> But when I heard her live, she was
>incomparable.  The Tristan excerpts with Bernstein, Thomas, and Joanna Simon
>were at Avery Fisher, not Carnegie.  There she stood, in her not
>particularly becoming gown, with winged glasses that belonged in New Jersey
>or Staten Island (no slurs intended) rather than a concert stage, her eyes
>more or less glued to the score, and she proceeded to sing one of the most
>passionate, enveloping Isoldes I ever hope to hear and despair or ever
>hearing again.

I heard her in the same music live at Symphony Hall, Boston in the spring
of 1972, at William Steinberg's farewell concert with the BSO.  He did a
"complete" Act Two of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE with Farrell, James King (first
time in the music), Nell Rankin, Robert Hale, Quade Winter, and John
Davies.  They did take the fairly standard "big cut" the yanks 10 minutes
out of the love duet.  This was a marvelous event.  Farrell was much as
quoted above: passionate and enveloping.  Years later I heard a
re-broadcast and it still held up.  So did Jimmy King, who I think in later
years expressed regret at not going after this role onstage.  His second
act was certainly in the ball park and we would be thrilled to have him
singing the role today.  Nell Rankin isn't much remembered now, but she
should be.  Her Brangene and Ortrud were often encountered at the MET in
the late 50s to mid 60s.  Often she was "second cast" however.  But such
quality for second cast!  I can't think of too many recordings Nell Rankin
left us: I have her as Marina in the Met Record Club edition of BORIS
GODUNOV, but that's all.  The young Robert Hale was fresh out of the B.U.
Music School at this time and would shortly make his mark at NY City Opera
in a variety of important basso roles.  That he would eventually become an
important Wagner bass was not yet clear.  He sang Marke beautifully, and
was rewarded on the second half of the program with Wotan's farewell.  Dim
memory reminds me that Farrell had declined the opportunity to end the
concert with the Immolation Scene, so we got the Meistersinger prelude.  It
was a marvelous concert.  She was a great singer.  That final scene from
SIEGFRIED (Leinsdorf; Svanholm) is the best recording the music has ever had.
Best wishes,

from Boston:    Jim Bodge
Can anyone in the house sing Siegfried?

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