Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday: Gundula Janowitz

"Ozean, du Ungeheur!"
Oberon (Weber)
Lyric soprano Gundula Janowitz was born August 2, 1937, in Berlin, Germany. During her career she was known for her varied repertoire in operas, oratorios and concerts, during the 1960s and 1970s. Janowitz grew up in Graz, Austria, where she became a naturalized Austrian. She studied at the Graz Conservatory in Austria, and had already begun to sing at the highest level by the end of the 1950s (Haydn's The Creation, with Herbert von Karajan in 1960). In 1959, Karajan engaged her as Barbarina in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at the Vienna State Opera, of which she became a permanent member in 1962. In the 1960s and 1970s, she became one of the most popular singers in her field internationally and she developed a comprehensive and widely-followed discography of works ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to Richard Strauss, in cooperation with the most prominent conductors (her mentor at times,

"Gerechter Gott! So ist's entschieden
schon" Rienzi (Wagner)
Karajan, as well as Otto Klemperer, Eugen Jochum, Leonard Bernstein, Rafael Kubelík, Karl Böhm, Georg Solti, Carlos Kleiber, etc.). One of the emphases of Janowitz's work was the development of song recitals, which she gave several times at the Salzburg Festivals. Following her vocal career, she was active as a vocal teacher. In 1990, she temporarily took over the position of Opera Director in Graz. In 1978, Gundula Janowitz was awarded the Joseph Marx Music Prize of the state of Styria, Austria, named for the composer, Joseph Marx. Janowitz appeared on many of the great stages of the world, including Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Salzburg Easter Festivals, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opéra, the Royal Opera House. She was made a Kammersängerin in 1970. In 1973, she sang the part of the Countess in a now

"Du bist der Ruh" (Schubert)
legendary new production of Le nozze di Figaro (with Georg Solti as conductor, Giorgio Strehler as director and Ezio Frigerio as set designer). Her farewell premiere was at the Vienna State Opera in the title role of Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide (with Charles Mackerras as conductor, Claus Helmut Drese as director, and Hans Schavernoch as set designer). Janowitz made her official farewell from the stage in 1990. Gundula Janowitz's voice is distinguished by its very bright, pure, crystalline, tremolo-free sound with tight, rapid vibrato, and by her even breathing technique. She kept her youthful, angelic tone and freshness well into her mature years. Like her predecessors, Elisabeth Grümmer and Maria Stader, who had similar timbre to hers, and like her contemporary, Elizabeth Harwood, Janowitz mastered first and foremost the high and middle register and lyrical-emotional expression. Despite her comparatively weak sound projection, she occasionally performed in dramatic roles (Sieglinde, Leonore, Elsa) or comic roles

"Im Abendrot" Vier letzte lieder
(Richard Strauss)
(Marzelline, Rosalinde), but she was most highly regarded as Fiordiligi, Countess Almaviva, Pamina, Agathe, Arabella, Ariadne, the Angel Gabriel (The Creation), and Countess Madeleine, and in sacred music. She was also a leading interpreter of Richard Strauss Four Last Songs. With a few exceptions, she avoided foreign-language roles (although recordings exist of her singing Don Carlos and Verdi's Requiem and all three Mozart/DaPonte operas in Italian). An excerpt of her portrayal of the Figaro Countess in a duet with Swiss soprano Edith Mathis features prominently in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption. [Source]

"Misera dove son!...Ah, non son io che parlo" K.369 (Mozart)

"Ah, lo previdi" Recitative, K.272 (Mozart)

"Ah, t'invola agl'occhi miei" Aria, K.272 (Mozart)

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