The Girls of Opera and the Women Who Play Them

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

1974 publicity photo of soprano Roberta Peters. 1974 publicity photo of soprano Roberta Peters. (Sol Hurok, concert promoter/Wikipedia Commons)

The “girls” of opera are the ingénues, the teenagers in love and the sassy chambermaids. The women who play them have fresh and flexible voices. While their careers lengthen, these women are still convincing as young and innocent girls — and, of course, sometimes not-so-innocent girls. This week, host Debbie Voigt takes a listen to the sopranos who have found the vocal Fountain of Youth.

Artists including Helen Donath, Judith Blegen, Edita Gruberova and Barbara Bonney are heard in excerpts of operas by Beethoven, Donizetti, Mozart, Richard Strauss and others.

Program playist:

Der Freischütz: “Kommt ein schlanker Burch gegangen”
Carl Maria von Weber
Helen Donath, soprano
Bavarian Radio Orchestra
Rafael Kubelik, conductor
London 417 119-2

Manon: “Gavotte”
Jules Massenet
Ileana Cotrubas, soprano
Choeurs et Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse
Michel Plasson, conductor
EMI Classics 749610 2

The Marriage of Figaro: “Sull’aria”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Heather Harper, soprano
Judith Blegen, soprano
English Chamber Orcehstra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
EMI CDMC 63636

Rigoletto: “Caro Nome”
Giuseppe Verdi
Roberta Peters, soprano
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Fausto Cleva, conductor
Live performance from Feb. 22, 1964
Sony Music 8697-91005-2

Fidelio: “O wär ich schon mit dir vereint”
Ludwig van Beethoven
Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz, soprano
Bavarian Radio Symphony
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
RCA Victor Red Seal 09026 68344-2

Ariadne auf Naxos: “Grossmächtige Prinzessin”
Richard Strauss
Natalie Dessay, soprano
Staatskapelle Dresden
Giuseppe Sinopoli, conductor
DG 289471323-2

The Tales of Hoffmann: “Les oiseau dans la charmille”
Jacques Offenbach
Edita Gruberova, soprano
Orchestre National de France
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
DG 427 682 2

Così fan tutte: Una donna a quindici anni”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Joan Rodgers, soprano
Berlin Philharmonic
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Erato 2292-45475-2

Don Giovanni: “Vedrai carino”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Berlin Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
DG 419 179-2

Don Pasquale: “So ancho’io virtu magica”
Gaetano Donizetti
Beverly Sills, soprano
London Symphony Orchestra
Sarah Caldwell, conductor
EMI Classics 5 660302

The Marriage of Figaro: “Deh vieni non tardar”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Barbara Bonney, soprano
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
Teldec 4509-9081-2

La Bohème: “Quando men’vo”
Giacomo Puccini
Anna Moffo, soprano
Mary Costa, soprano
Richard Tucker, tenor
Robert Merrill, baritone
Giorgio Tozzi, bass
Philip Maero, baritone
Giorgio Onesti, bass
Rome Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
RCA Victor 09026-63179-2

Un ballo in maschera: “Saper vorreste”
Sumi Jo, soprano
Vienna Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
DG 427 635-2

Comments [6]

wonderful series - thank you. And many thanks for featuring Barbara Bonney in the lineup - a beautiful singer. I do disagree with DV comment re Zerbinetta "stealing the show" - at least in the Met ARIADNE with Deborah Voigt as Ariadne! Dessay is indeed spectacular in that, but DV is even more amazing - powerful and gorgeous.

Feb. 11 2015 11:20 AM
Adele F (aka AF) from Nassau County, Long Island

Enjoyed the program, but have one request. Please do not play two pieces/arias in a row without announcing both BEFORE the two are played and without stopping in between the two. As a listener I want to know ahead of time what I am listening to. For example, I am pretty sure only Natalie Dessay's Zerbinetta aria was announced; then with no pause, or so it seemed to me, I was hearing Olympia's aria from Tales of Hoffmann & assumed it was again Natalie Dessay. The annoouncement AFTERWARDS that we had heard Edita Gruberova in that second aria gave me the correct information, but why confuse the listener in the meantime? Thanks.

Oct. 18 2014 04:56 PM
Dr. Wallace Sife from Brooklyn, NY

I am sick and tired of the interesting ads on this page, with no informatin when those programs will take place.

The whole navigation system on these pages is horrible, and very off-putting.
Shame on you, WQXR!

Oct. 18 2014 02:19 PM
steve from morristown, nj

My withdrawal pains from the passing of George Jellinek are finally starting to dissipate. Great job Debbie.

Oct. 18 2014 02:09 PM
CastaDiva from United States

What, no Joan Sutherland or Mirella Freni, both of whom sang ingenue roles and sounded as fresh as ever, well into their late 50s?

Oct. 18 2014 01:16 PM

Thank you Debbie for featuring Beverly Sills. I wish there was more of her on WQXR - what a voice and more so, what an incredible human being - whom as you said - felt as if she was only singing to you. Bravo. Love your new show.

Oct. 18 2014 01:00 PM

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