Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Birthday: Rita Gorr

"Je suis Médée et je les laisse vivre" Médée
Born Marguerite Geirnaert in Zelzate, Belgium, on February 18, 1926, she first studied in Ghent and then at the Brussels Conservatory. Her teachers included Jeanne Pacquot d'Assy, Germaine Hoerner, Vina Bovy and Germaine Hoerner. she won first prize at the vocal competition of Verviers in 1946, and made her professional debut at Antwerp as Fricka in Die Walküre the same year. She was soon engaged by Opéra in Strasbourg at L'Opéra national du Rhin where she sang until 1952 when she won a competition at Lausanne that led to her debut at the Opéra-Comique and eventually the Opéra de Paris. The latter became her artistic home for most of her career. It was here that she sang the grand opera roles of Orphée, Sieglinde, Fricka, Venus, Margared in Lalo’s Le Roi

"J'ai perdu mon Eurydice" Orphée et Eurydice
d’Ys, Hérodiade, La Principessa di Bouillon in Adriana Leucouvreur, and Amneris, as well as Azucena, Herodias, Kostelnicka in Jenufa, the Mother in Louise, Geneviève, Mme de la Haltière in Cendrillon, Santuzza, Iphigénie and Medée, among others. She had success as Magdalene in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Dalila in Samson et Dalila, Venus in Tannhäuser, Charlotte in Werther, Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Carmen, Geneviève in Pelléas et Mélisande, and a triumphant Amneris in Aida, at the Opéra opposite Renata Tebaldi in 1959. She returned to Strasbourg in 1957, as Ortrud opposite Wolfgang Windgassen. She divided her time over the next years between the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique, where she
sang in Oberon, Les Indes Galantes and Rigoletto. She left the Opéra, however, feeling the roles she was offered were not true to her personality. In 1957, after several months of touring, she returned to the Opéra and repeated her Venus. Gorr explained that she felt very happy in the “big family atmosphere” and remained there until 1972, although she had to face strong competition with Hélène Bouvier, Inès Chabannes and Denise Scharley. Her career was international in scope, with debuts at Bayreuth in 1958 as Fricka in Das Rheingold. She went on to sing Fricka in Die Walküre and the Third Norn in Götterdämmerung. Gorr found great success as Ortrud in Wieland Wagner’s production, with Elisabeth Grümmer as incomparable Elsa and Sándor Kónya as Lohengrin. Windgassen wanted her as his partner in Parsifal, but she refused. Other debuts include the Royal Opera House in 1959, La Scala in 1960, the Metropolitan Opera on October 17, 1962 as Amneris. In four seasons and 41 performances at the MET, she sang Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Eboli in Don Carlos, Azucena in Il trovatore, and Dalila. The Opéra-Comique saw her as Brangäne and Venus
With Régine Crespin in 1963
throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It was in Rome where she sang her first Kundry, repeating it at La Scala under Cluytens. During the 1960s and 1970s she frequently sang in Vienna, Bordeaux and Ghent. During her career she was offered to sing Ariane in Barbe-Bleu, Isolde (offered by Solti) and Brünnhilde (Wolfgang Windgassen wanted her to sing the role), but she feared the high tessitura and refused. In the 1990s she was heard as Herodias, Madame de Croissy in Les Dialogues des Carmélites, the Countess in Queen of Spades, Marthe in Faust and Filipyevna in Eugene Onegin, highly acknowledged for her imposing stage presence, not only by her devoted
Farewell performance as the Countess
in Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame at
De Vlaamse Opera in 2007
audience but also by today’s stage directors who love to work with this innovative artist. Her last role was as the Countess in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades which she performed in the Summer of 2007 in Ghent and Antwerp. Gorr can be heard in two of her greatest roles on recordings, Ortrud in Lohengrin, opposite Sandor Konya and Lucine Amara, under Erich Leinsdorf, and Amneris in Aida, opposite Leontyne Price and Jon Vickers, under Georg Solti. Other notable recorded roles include Delilah, and Fricka, the latter at Bayreuth under Knappertsbusch. [Source, Source]

"Printemps Qui Commence" - Samson and Dalila (Saint-Saëns)

"Ah nos peines" Médée (Cherubini)

"Stride la vampa" Il Trovatore (Verdi) [performance from 1991]

"Voi Lo Sapete, O Mamma" - Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni)

"D'amour, l'ardente flamme" La Damnation de Faust (Berlioz)

"Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns)

"O Don Fatale" Don Carlos (Verdi)

"Mild und leise" Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)