Lebendige Vergangenheit - Josef von Manowarda

Artist Josef von Manowarda
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Josef von Manowarda
Release Date Saturday, September 2, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Composers Richard Wagner, Hugo Wolf, Carl Loewe, Franz Schubert, Charles Gounod, Johannes Brahms
Songwriters Josef von Manowarda, Josef von Manowarda / Arpad Sandor, Josef von Manowarda / Maria Olszewska / Fritz Soot / Waldemar Henke / Lilly Hafgren, Josef von Manowarda / Franz Rupp
Copyright © Preiser Records

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Josef von Manowarda, born on July 3, 1890 in Krakau into an old Austrian family, was initially destined for a diplomatic career but soon determined instead upon teaching. In his speech- and singing courses he discovered his talent for singing, whereupon he altered his plans again to study voice in Graz, completing his training in Vienna with the well-known teacher Otto Iro. After an initial engagement in Graz, the bass-baritone received a four-year contract at the Vienna Volksoper, then under the direction of Rainer-Simons. He achieved his first big success in the opera Der eiserne Heiland by Max Oberleithner. After a further engagement in Wiesbaden Manowarda finally received the long-sought appointment to the Vienna Court Opera (later Vienna State Opera). He made his début on August 17, 1919 in the role of Meister Pogner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. In the first season alone he appeared in 27 roles and 6 premières, including Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten where he made history as the Geisterbote opposite Lucie Weidt’s Geisteramme. Manowarda’s versatility led to his becoming a regular workhorse; in some seasons he sang up to 80 and 90 times, of course, not all in major roles. He was valued member of the ensemble, rarely making guest appearances elsewhere, almost never cancelling and always prepared to stand in for an indisposed colleague. His was a dark bass-baritone voice with its own distinctive timbre. Since he commanded a wide range, producing both high and low notes with equal ease, the entire bass-baritone repertory was available to him. In some operas he could and did sing two and three roles. In all he appeared in a total of 88 roles in Vienna. Already early in his career he took on heroic baritone roles such as Wotan and Hans Sachs. The demand these roles make on the singer showed up in his case only as a slight roughness in the voice towards the end of the evening. His versatility was especially evident in Richard Wagner’s operas, where he sang both King Mark and Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde and Wotan, Fafner and Fasolt in Das Rheingold. Further he sang Amonasro, Ramphis and the King in Aida, St. Bris and Marcel in Les Huguenots - the list goes on. The only roles he did not sing were buffo roles, for his was not a comic temperament. Although he sang a good Ochs von Lerchenau, he never attempted roles such as Kezel, the barber of Bagdad or Osmin. If the director Franz Schalk systematically fostered Manowarda’s talent by casting him in challenging new roles, Clemens Krauss expanded the singer’s repertory to an almost excessive degree. Now he sang Wozzeck (he was the first to portray him as gloomy and introverted), Iago in Otello, Barak in Die Frau ohne Schatten (as a worthy successor of Richard Mayr), the King in Lohengrin, the Landgraf in Tannhäuser, a wild and untamed Altair in Die Aegyptische Helena, and Hagen in Götterdämmerung (a role he retained to the end of his career). In 1931 Manowarda sang a successful Landgraf in Tannhäuser in Bayreuth under Arturo Toscanini. In 1934 he left the Vienna State Opera to join Clemens Krauss at the Berlin State Opera, only returning to Vienna in 1938 for a series of guest engagements. During his absence his voice had attained a rich mellowness, the previous occasional harshness having completely disappeared. He now had the ideal sound for Gurnemanz (Parsifal). He had also overcome the intimidation he had felt at having to match the achievements of his great Viennese predecessor Richard Mayr. His final performance was a Gurnemanz on November 9, 1942, for he died suddenly one month later on December 23 at the age of 52. Manowarda also sang in oratorios. Probably his most memorable performance was the bass solo in Verdi’s Requiem under Toscanini.