Leise, leise

by Sirje

The snow continues, unabated. It’s great, actually, because it’s covered up all the dirty snow and looks nice and pretty all over again.

But it’s no weather for tromping around outside, particularly since I have auditions in a few days (and everyone I know is SICK). So I’m doing my best to stay inside and warm. One must do one’s utmost to outsmart those pesky little germs. There are a lot of sopranos out there!

Speaking of which, I’ve been surfing a bit as I hide from the cold, and I’ve been listening in particular to a few renditions of Leise, Leise, which is one of Agathe’s arias from Der Freischütz by Weber. It’s an aria that covers a lot of ground: it’s long, it’s challenging, and it packs a lot of text and range of emotion. Especially interesting are some of the older recordings, which pay particular attention to text and a lilting legato.

Here’s Welsh soprano Margaret Price in 1973, with a few Freischütz-esque visual references for your viewing pleasure:

She sang a lot of Mozart and was quite well known for it, and Verdi as well. She also recorded Isolde with Kleiber, though she never sang the role on stage. I think she has a gorgeous voice, and she’s just so patient with the music, letting it open up where it wants to– but always so elegantly! I definitely have a voice crush on Margaret Price.

Like I said, Leise, leise is a long aria, so I might have lost a few of you already. But for those lucky few of you who decided to stick around, here’s an Agathe that really grabs your gut and makes you pray right along with her, even if you’re not a big fan of God: Leontyne Price. Her voice just soars, and, wow, is it stunning. This was recorded in 1968:

Her voice just makes me swoon, and I have shed many, many tears of joy just at hearing her sound.

And here’s Bulgarian soprano Ljuba Welitsch (1913-1996). Elegant and deliberate, but fiery. I’m not sure when this was recorded:

She was apparently quite a character herself. Apparently, in a performance as Tosca at the Met, she kept kicking her Scarpia, Lawrence Tibbett, long after he was already supposed to be dead. But really kicking him. Hard. And probably with pointy shoes.

They weren’t very close, those two.

Finally, one of the most famous Agathes of all time, Elisabeth Grümmer (1911 – 1986). Such pathos! She sang at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin for many years, and really sang all over the world. This recoding was made in 1955:

What’s interesting is how very different each of these voices are, even though these ladies shared a great deal of repertoire; most of them sang several important roles from Mozart, Strauss, Verdi, and Puccini. Yet they are each such masters. Isn’t it incredible?