Lebendige Vergangenheit - Elisabeth Schumann (Vol.2)

Artist Elisabeth Schumann
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Elisabeth Schumann (Vol.2)
Release Date Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Daniel - François Auber, Ambroise Thomas, Engelbert Humperdinck, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Charles Gounod, Albert Lortzing, Hugo Wolf
Songwriter Elisabeth Schumann
Copyright © Preiser Records

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Elisabeth Schumann was born on 13. 1885 in Merseburg, Thuringia, the daughter of the resident Minster organist. Her mother's family proudly traced descent back to the famous soprano Henriette Sontag (1806 - 1854), (the "Divine Jette", as the Berliners called her, who died of cholera in Mexico), Carl Maria von Weber's first Euryanthe and famous Agathe. lt would seem that vocal ability is hereditary as well. While still an adolescent, Elisabeth Schumann left for Hamburg tobe taught by Alma Schadow. Eventually she was offered a contract by the Hamburg Opera and already one year later she was accorded the honour of singing what was to become her central role: Sophie in "Rosenkavalier". Four years later she had become sufficiently well-known to sing at the MET. She made her debut as Marzelline in "Fidelio", followed by the Woodbird in "Siegfried", Musette, Papagena, Grete! and Sophie, her calling card, which was received with triumphant acclaim. Further appearances were foiled by the outbreak of World War I. Richard Strauss was especially taken by her artistry. When he became co-director of the Vienna State Opera (together with Franz Schalk) he immediately wanted to sign her up but the Hamburg Opera, where she was still under contract, insisted on a replacement and Rose Ader, a young and extremely pretty soprano, who enjoyed great popularity in Vienna, was released from her contract so that she could join the Hamburg ensemble. Naturally this reshuffle aroused hostility among the Viennese public and Elisabeth Schumann sang her firsts Sophie on 4. September 1919 with some trepidation. After the "Rose presentation" (Lotte Lehmann was her ardent Octavian) the audience realized what a rara avis had appeared. The silvery head voice required in this duet enchanted everyone. Elisabeth Schumann very quickly learnt virtually the whole repertoire suited to her voice, especially the Mozart roles: Blonde, Susanna, Despina, Zerlina, Pamina, but also Ännchen in "Freischütz", Micaela, Nedda, Marie in "Zar und Zimmermann", Najade in "Ariadne auf Naxos", (she even sang the role of the Composer once, at the special request of Strauss, but found it uncongenial for her voice). Eventually she also took on Margiana in "Barbier von Bagdad" and Mignon. Elisabeth Schumann soon also became a renowned Lieder singer. Strauss himself accompanied her first recital in the winter season 1920, which laid the foundation for that part of her.career. The programs initially concentrated on the less well-known Strauss lieder. He himself was so taken with her artistry that he wrote one lied after the other for her. Her portrait appeared on the printed sheet music. Pars pro toto is the enchanting lied "Amor". Together with Strauss she toured the United States and eventually the whole world. She also sang Hugo Wolf lieder, apart from the staple diet of Schubert, Schumann and Brahms and in almost every recital there was a specially selected group of lieder by either Reger, Pfitzner, Mahler or Marx. In 1923, directed by Bruno Walter, she sang "Rosenkavalier", partnering Lotte Lehmann, Richard Mayr and Delia Reinhardt at Covent Garden, and her success was so overwhelming that for the next few years she enjoyed unprecedented popularity in England too - both as a recitalist and as opera singer. On 28. September 1937 she was Sophie in a "Rosenkavalier" performance that proved to be the last performance Lotte Lehmann was to sing in Vienna. Miss Lehmann left Europe to tour the United States and never returned to sing in Vienna. On 1. November 1937 Elisabeth Schumann sang 1. Flower Maiden in 'iParsifal" - her last appearance, too, for the next eighteen years at the Vienna Opera. But no-one could foresee that at the time. Although no pressure was put on the two famous artists, who also happened to be personal friends, to terminate their contracts, their love of liberty and hatred of despotism forced them to bid farewell. Elisabeth Schumann subsequently gave many concerts in the United States and occasionally held master classes. After World War II, she returned to Vienna for a Lieder recital, to delirious acclaim. The care­ fully selected program enabled her to display the undiminished glory of her silvery timbre. Elisabeth Schumann died on 23. April 1952 in New York. lt would be an exaggeration to claim that her artistry was catholic. Fully aware of her limitations, she virtually never ventured outside her light lyric repertoire. In her own sphere, however, she reigned supreme - she, too, was a Prima Donna.