Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Birthday: Agnes Baltsa

"Non so più cosa son"
Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)

"Nacqui all'affanno...Non più mesta"
La Cenerentola (Rossini)

"Je vais mourir"
Les Troyens (Berlioz)

"Ah si, mie care...Or la sull'onda"
Il Giuramento (Mercadante)

"Una macchia è qui tuttora"
Macbeth (Verdi)

"L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"
Carmen (Bizet)

"Una voce poco fa"
Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini)

"Nei giardin del bello saracin ostello"
Don Carlo (Verdi)
Mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa was born on the Greek island of Lefkas on November 19, 1944. From the age of six she took piano lessons. In 1958 she moved to Athens where she graduated from the conservatory in 1965. In the same year she won a Maria Callas scholarship which enabled her to continue her studies in Munich (Germany). In 1968 she made her first appearance as Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart) at the Frankfurt Opera, followed by Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier, R. Strauss) at the Vienna State Opera in 1970. Until today, she is the youngest Ocativian ever at the Vienna State Opera. From that year on, her career developed rapidly: the Deutsche Oper Berlin, various opera houses in the United States (among which the Metropolitan Opera in New York), the Bavarian State Opera (München), Govent Garden, Zürich, the Paris Opera etc. Under the guidance of Herbert von Karajan, she was a regular guest at the Salzburger Festspiele. Her repertory includes works by Mozart (Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan Tutte, Requiem, etc.), Rossini (Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, L'Italiana in Algeri), Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana), Verdi (Aida, La Forza del Destino, Il Trovatore, Don Carlo, Requiem) and Bellini (I Capuleti e I Montecchi), Donizetti (Il Campanello, Maria Stuarda), etc. But she is, of course, most famous for her performance of Carmen (Bizet), a role she has sung with José Carreras, Placido Domingo and Niel Shicoff many times. In 1980, Agnes Baltsa became Kammersängerin at the Vienna State Opera; she has been an honorary member of this opera house since 1988. In 1992, she made her first full-length motion picture called Duett, in which she plays a Hungarian opera singer. Baltsa continued to add new roles to her repertory like Fedora (Giordano), Hérodiade (Massenet), of which a live recording from Vienna was issued, and Fidès (La Prophète, Meyerbeer) at the Vienna State Opera. At the Wiener Festwochen 1999, she sang Orlofski (Die Fledermaus, J. Strauss) again, a role she hadn't sung for years. In February 2000 she successfully sang the part of Despina (Così fan Tutte) at the Zürich opera alongside Cecilia Bartoli. In the beginning of 2000, she again picked up a role she had abandoned many years ago: the Composer in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos (in Japan). This performance was part of the tour the Vienna State Opera made of Japan. The organisation especially asked Baltsa to return to Japan to sing The Composer again, since she had been tremendously successful with this role (also with the VSO) over there in 1985. The cast of Ariadne also included Edita Gruberova and Cheryl Studer, the performance was conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli, who sadly passed away in 2003. Quite surprisingly, for the first time in over 30 years, Baltsa was not scheduled to appear at the 2000-2001 Vienna State Opera season. She decided not to accept the offer to sing the long-awaited role of Lady Macbeth (Verdi) in Zürich in July 2001, but did very successfully perform the role of Kundry (Parsifal) at the Teatro Real (Madrid) in March 2001. Cast also included Pladico Domingo, Matti Salminen and Frans Grundheber. Even though conductors such as Karajan and Muti had pleaded with her to sing Kundry, it wasn't until 2001 that she finally decided to sing the role that had 'persecuted' her throughout her career. In May 2001, Baltsa gave various concerts in Austria and Germany. Agnes Baltsa was extremely successful at her debut as Kostelnicka in Janacek's Jenufa at the Vienna State Opera in February 2002. One of the most interesting performances of the year 2002 would have been her long-awaited return to the US, where she was to appear in a concert performance (Boston) of Haensel und Gretel as the Witch. Unfortunately, Baltsa had to cancel these performances due to illness. Significant performances in 2003 included an opera gala in Japan and an opera gala in Athens. In March 2003, Agnes Baltsa also returned to the opera house in Frankfurt, where she made her debut as Cherubino in 1968, for two performances of Cavalleria Rusticana. In October 2003 she also appeared in her home country again for four performances of Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana) in Thessaloniki. Highlights in 2004 were: a concert performance in Malmoe (her very first appearance in Sweden), Greek Songs, as well as L'Italiana in Algeri in Japan and a concert on the occasion of Carreras' 30th Anniversary at the Vienna State Opera (see news for more info). Baltsa quite unexpectedly dropped out of the production of Lohengrin at the Vienna State Opera in 2005. In 2005 she added a new role to her repetoire: Klytemnaestra (Elektra), Japan 2005, with Ozawa, as well as Vienna (2007) and Athens (2007), München (2008-2009) and Berlin. In October 2005, Agnes Baltsa and Placido Domingo sang the Radames/Amneris duet from Aida on the occassion of the 50th anniversary of the reopening of the Staatsoper in Vienna. For the past few years, her career seems revolve around Elektra, Jenufa, numerous opera concerts and the very successful concerts with Greek Songs, mostly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Greece. She has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Philips Classics, EMI and Sony. Agnes Baltsa is married to the German opera singer Günter Missenhardt and lives in Bern (Switzerland) and Athens (Greece). [Source] More photos and audio clips after the jump.

"Garífallo st'aftí" (Hadjidakis) "Se pótisa rodóstamo" (Theodorakis) "Áspri méra ke ya mas" (Xarhakos) "To tréno févgi stis októ" (Theodorakis) "Pensa alla Patria" L'Italiana in Algeri (Rossini) "Tantti affetti" La donna del Lago (Rossini) "Oh nube che lieve" Maria Stuarda (Donizetti) "O mio Fernando" La Favorita (Donizetti) "Ah! crudel, d'onor ragioni" I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Bellini) w/Edita Gruberova "Mira, o Norma" Norma (Bellini) w/Sylvia Sass "Seien wir wieder gut" Ariadne auf Naxos (R. Strauss) "Samson, recherchant ma présence... Amour! Viens aider ma faiblesse!" Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns) "Come scoglio" Così fan Tutte (Mozart) "Chacun à son gout!" Die Fledermaus (J. Strauss) "L'abborrita Rivale A Me Sfuggia...Già I Sacerdoti Adunansi" Aida (Verdi) "Parto, parto" La Clemenza di Tito (Mozart) "Voi lo sapete" Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni) "Mir ist die Ehre wiederfahren" Der Rosenkavalier (R. Strauss) w/Janet Perry "O mio babbino caro" Gianni Schicchi (Puccini)

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