Four Famous Sopranos of the Past

Artist Maria Cebotari
Title Four Famous Sopranos of the Past
Release Date Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Composers Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Antonin Dvorak, Jacques Offenbach, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Alabieff, Franz Lehar, Zdenko Fibich, Bedrich Smetana, Leo Delibes, Luigi Arditi, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Sergej Wassiljewitsch Rachmaninoff
Songwriters Gitta Alpar, Maria Cebotari, Jarmila Novotna, Esther Rethy
Copyright © Preiser Records

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Gitta Alpar, who was born on 5 March 1903 in Budapest, was in close touch with music almost from birth. Her father was a cantor at the Budapest Synagogue and later a conductor. Gitta Alpar did her voice studies with Laura Hilgermann, a famous singer at the turn of the century. In 1923 she made her debut at the Budapest National Opera. When she had to step in in "Lakme" for a colleague who had been taken ill, Erich Kleiber happened to be in the audience. He immediately hired the young soprano for the Berlin State Opera. After guest appearances in Munich and at the Vienna State Opera, she began her engagement in Berlin in 1927. Her starring roles at the time included the Queen of the Night in "The Magie Flute", Cherubino in "The Marriage of Figaro", and especially Violetta in "La Traviata". Unforturiately, she soon left opera for the operetta, in which she became a star of the first order. Gitta Alpqr remained a member of the Berlin State Opera company until 1930. She then appeared on the stage of the Metropol Theatre as Laura in "Der Bettelstudent". A little later came the first German performance of Kalman's "Veilchen von Montmartre" with Alpar in the title role. Her most sensational success, however, was as Madame Dubarry in 1931 in the Admiralspalast. This founded her international fame. The film industry now began to take notice: she appeared with Max Hansen in "Die oder keine", and in "Gitta entdeckt ihr Herz" she met Gustav Fröhlich, who later became her husband. In 1932 she had her last premiere in Berlin, Paul Abraham's "Ball im Savoy". In 1933 she had to leave Berlin precipitately after a reception in the Hotel Kaiserhof; she had neglected to stand when the Horst Wessel song was sung. To secure a new livelihood, she went on a world tour which greatly undermined her health. An operation was necessary to save her voice to at least some extent. Gitta Alpar then became one of the most sought-after singing teachers in Hollywood. She died in February 1991 in Palm Springs. Jarmila Novotna was born in Prague on 23 September 1907. She got her training there - one of her teachers was the famous Emmy Destinn - and made her debut in 1925 at the age of 17 at the Prague National Opera as Marie in "The Bartered Bride". This was the start of a brilliant career which took her to all the world's leading opera houses. In 1928 she sang Gilda in "Rigoletto" at the Festival in Verona, and a year later Norina in "L'Elisir d'amore" in Naples. From 1929 on, she was in Berlin, first at the Kroll Opera, then at the State Opera. In 1931 she was the celebrated star in Max Reinhardt's production of "La belle Helene" at the Theater am Kurfürstendamm. In 1932 she sang Antonia in Reinhardt's spectacular version of "The Tales of Hoffmann". At the Vienna State Opera, where she scored major successes as Violetta, Tatiana and Madame Butterfly, she gave her first guest performance in 1929. From 1933 on, she was a permanent member of the company. One of the culminating points of her Vienna years was her creation of the title role in the world premiere of Franz Lehar's "Giuditta" (1934) at the State Opera, with the composer conducting. From 1935 to 1937 she was heard at the Salzburg Festival as Euridice in "Orpheus and Euridice", the Countess in "The Marriage of Figaro", Fiordiligi in "Cosl fan tutte", Pamina in "The Magie Flute", Octavian in "Der Rosenkavalier" and Frasquita in "Der Corregidor"; the conductors included Arturo Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Felix von Weingartner, Hans Knappertsbusch and Josef Krips. In 1939 Jarmila Novotna left Austria and took up an invitation to America. Beginning in 1940, she was at the Metropolitan Opera in New York for sixteen seasons. There she appeared as Donna Elvira in "Don Giovanni", Mimi in "La Boheme", Manon in Massenet's opera, Melisande in "Pelleas and Melisande", as Prince Orlovsky in "Die Fledermaus" and - with triumphant success - as Marie in "The Bartered Bride". She gave guest performances in Buenos Aires (Teatro Colon) and in Rio de Janeiro. In 1949 she returned to the Salzburg Festival as Euridice and Oktavian. Jarmila Novotna, one of the most beautiful women in opera, was also successful as a film actress. She died on 9 February 1994 in New York. Maria Cebotari, the daughter of a teacher, was born on 10 February 1910 in the city of Kishinev in Bessarabia. Her artistic talent was evident at an early age, as congregations noted every Sunday when her voice was heard from the choir loft of the local church. Art and artists, however, were always regarded with a certain amount of distrust 'in eastern European middle-class circles, and Maria Cebotari accordingly faced seemingly insurmountable difficulties before she could attend the conservatory in her home town. Her destiny appeared in the person i of the Russian actor Alexander Vyrubov, under whose management the Moscow Arts Theatre came on tour to Koshinev. He could not fail to notice Maria Cebotari's great gifts and immediately offered her a contract with his ensemble. lt took all of Vyrubov's powers of persuasion, which culminated in a proposal of marriage, to make Cebotari 's parents give in to his entreaties. She travelled with her husband from city to city, finally landing in Paris, …