Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Remembering Hildegard Behrens (February 9 1937 - August 18 2009)

Met Elektra starring the late German soprano Hildegard Behrens:

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This Saturday marks the third anniversary of the passing of German soprano Hildegard Behrens, who died suddenly of a dissecting aneurysm of the aorta in a Tokyo hospital. At the time of her death, Behrens was in Japan to adjudicate and give masterclasses at the Kusatsu International Summer Music Festival.  With her passing, the opera world lost one of its most luminous and intelligent singers, celebrated for her Wagner and Strauss roles. Trained as a lawyer, Behrens took up singing comparatively late, only making her debut in 1971 as the Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro at age 34. She made her Met debut as Giorgetta in Il Tabarro in 1976, but the most significant boost to her career was her being chosen by Herbert von Karajan as his Salome at the Salzburg Festival in 1977. She became a notable Sieglinde, Ariadne, Kaiserin, Leonore, Brunnhilde, Marie (Wozzeck), Elettra (Idomeneo), Elektra, and Isolde.  She also sang the occasional Italian roles such as Tosca, and operettas like Hanna Glawari,  Despite her successes in the heavier dramatic soprano roles such as Brunnhilde, Isolde and Elektra, Behrens was not considered to be a true hochdramatischer. She was a successful Brunnhilde and Elektra because of her well focused, gleaming sound, her dramatic intensity, and her sympathetic stage presence. She possessed something few singers have - a certain undefinable spiritual quality that made her a moving actress. To remember her, here is the complete Met telecast of Elektra in 1994. At age 57, her voice was still in good shape, and her dramatic expression and intensity are well captured, under the supportive baton of James Levine. Behrens is also surrounded by very fine colleagues - Deborah Voigt (Chrysothemis), Brigitte Fassbaender (Klytemnestra), Donald McIntyre (Orest) and James King (Aegisth)

Joseph K. So

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