Birgit Nilsson: The Great Live Recordings

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Birgit Nilsson was a vocal phenomenon in “a league of her own“ (New York Times). Not even the loudest orchestra could drown her powerful voice.

Unfortunately, there were seldom recording engineers around who had the expertise to do her voice justice, so it was mostly reduced to a “normal” size in the studio. As the celebrated German music critic Jürgen Kesting put it: “Birgit Nilsson in the recording studio is like driving a Porsche in the back yard”.

Fortunately, there are many live recordings which show the “real thing” – a phenomenal, larger-than-life voice. “There’s nobody like her, no other singer I heard in my life”, said Plácido Domingo who partnered her in several performances of Turandot.

This centenary edition showcases Nilsson in roles where she set a new vocal standard – Turandot, Isolde, Brünnhilde, Salome and Elektra – in exciting performances, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm, Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Eugen Jochum, and alongside other great singers like Anna Moffo, Régine Crespin, Leonie Rysanek, Astrid Varnay, Regina Resnik, Franco Corelli, Wolfgang Windgassen, Ramón Vinay, Jon Vickers, Jess Thomas, Theo Adam and Martti Talvela.

Taken in chronological order, these live recordings show the development of the voice of the century: from concert recordings in Stockholm (where her career started in the late 1940s) to great performances at the Met, the Bayreuth Festival and the Vienna State Opera, including the Met’s broadcast of Die Walküre conducted by Karajan, two versions of Tristan und Isolde (Bayreuth 1957 and Vienna 1967), two performances of Elektra(Montreal 1967/Expo and Met 1971) and the exciting Turandot with Franco Corelli and Anna Moffo, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

Despite her legendary “battles” with star tenor Franco Corelli (“Anything you can do, I can do louder!”), Birgit Nilsson was one of a very few singers to be respected by all her colleagues, by conductors and directors and managers. After listening to her live recordings, you’ll know exactly why.

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REVIEW:

All 17 performances (12 of them complete) collected here have appeared before in some form, or condition, as ‘private’ or ‘pirate’ issue recordings. The sonic improvements now made by Sony to these original releases are often considerable and their selection is both logical and satisfying.

– Gramophone


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: 88985392322


  • UPC: 889853923229


  • Label: Sony


  • Composer: Béla Bartók, Giacomo Puccini, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner


  • Conductor: Eugen Jochum, Ferenc Fricsay, Hans Knappertsbusch, Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm, Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Otmar Suitner, Sergiu Celibidache, Sir Charles Mackerras, Stig Rybrant, Wolfgang Sawallisch


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Chorus, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Chorus, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New Philharmonia Chorus, ORTF National Orchestra, RAI Chorus, Rome RAI Orchestra, Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna State Opera Orchestra


  • Performer: Alessio de Paolis, Anna Moffo, Anton Dermota, Antonia Fahberg, Arnold van Mill, Astrid Varnay, Bengt Rundgren, Bernhard Sönnerstedt, Birgit Nilsson, Bonaldo Giaiotti, Calvin Marsh, Carlotta Ordassy, Charles Anthony, Danica Mastilovic, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Egmont Koch, Franco Corelli, Frank Guarrera, Franz Crass, Fritz Uhl, George Shirley, Gerd Nienstedt, Gerhard Unger, Grace Hoffmann, Gudrun Wewezow, Hans Hotter, Harald Pröglhöf, Helen Donath, Hermann Sapell, Hermann Uhde, Hermann Winkler, Horst Laubenthal, Ingrid Bjoner, Irene Dalis, James King, Jean Madeira, Jess Thomas, Jon Vickers, Josephine Veasey, Karl Christian Kohn, Karl Helm, Karl Liebl, Leonie Rysanek, Lorenz Fehenberger, Ludovic Speiss, Marcia Baldwin, Martti Talvela, Norbert Orth, Peter Klein, Ramon Vinay, Regina Resnik, Régine Crespin, Reid Bunger, Robert Nágy, Ruth Hesse, Siegfried Vogel, Theo Adam, Thomas Stewart, Walter Berry, Walter Cassel, Walter Geisler, Wolfgang Windgassen



Works:


  1. Bluebeard's Castle, Op. 11/Sz 48

    Composer: Béla Bartók

    Ensemble: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Bernhard Sönnerstedt (Baritone)

    Conductor: Ferenc Fricsay


  2. Lohengrin

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Chorus, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

    Performer: Theo Adam (Bass), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Hermann Uhde (Baritone), Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor)

    Conductor: Eugen Jochum


  3. Tristan und Isolde

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Chorus, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

    Performer: Walter Geisler (Tenor), Grace Hoffmann (Voice), Hans Hotter (Baritone), Egmont Koch (Baritone), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Fritz Uhl (Tenor), Arnold van Mill (Voice), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor), Hermann Winkler (Tenor)

    Conductor: Wolfgang Sawallisch


  4. Die Walküre: Act 1: Schläfst du, Gast?

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

    Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Ramon Vinay (Tenor)

    Conductor: Hans Knappertsbusch


  5. Siegfried, opera, WWV 86c: Heil dir, Sonne!

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

    Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor)

    Conductor: Otmar Suitner


  6. Turandot

    Composer: Giacomo Puccini

    Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Chorus, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

    Performer: Charles Anthony (Tenor), Franco Corelli (Tenor), Bonaldo Giaiotti (Bass), Frank Guarrera (Baritone), Calvin Marsh (Baritone), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Robert Nágy (Tenor), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Alessio de Paolis (Tenor)

    Conductor: Leopold Stokowski


  7. Salome, Op. 54

    Composer: Richard Strauss

    Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Chorus, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

    Performer: Marcia Baldwin (Mezzo Soprano), Walter Cassel (Baritone), Irene Dalis (Soprano), Karl Liebl (Tenor), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), George Shirley (Tenor)

    Conductor: Karl Böhm


  8. Elektra, Op. 58

    Composer: Richard Strauss

    Ensemble: Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna State Opera Orchestra

    Performer: Danica Mastilovic (Soprano), Gerd Nienstedt (Voice), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Regina Resnik (Mezzo Soprano), Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Fritz Uhl (Tenor)

    Conductor: Karl Böhm


  9. Tristan und Isolde

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna State Opera Orchestra

    Performer: Reid Bunger (Baritone), Anton Dermota (Tenor), Ruth Hesse (Voice), Peter Klein (Tenor), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Harald Pröglhöf (Voice), Martti Talvela (Bass), Jess Thomas (Tenor)

    Conductor: Karl Böhm


  10. Die Walküre

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

    Performer: Theo Adam (Bass), Régine Crespin (Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Martti Talvela (Bass), Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano), Jon Vickers (Tenor)

    Conductor: Herbert von Karajan


  11. Fidelio, Op. 72

    Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ensemble: RAI Chorus, Rome RAI Orchestra

    Performer: Theo Adam (Bass), Franz Crass (Bass), Helen Donath (Soprano), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Ludovic Speiss (Tenor), Gerhard Unger (Voice), Siegfried Vogel (Bass)

    Conductor: Leonard Bernstein


  12. Elektra, Op. 58

    Composer: Richard Strauss

    Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Chorus, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

    Performer: Jean Madeira (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Nágy (Tenor), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Carlotta Ordassy (Soprano), Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Thomas Stewart (Baritone)

    Conductor: Karl Böhm


  13. Tristan und Isolde

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: New Philharmonia Chorus, ORTF National Orchestra

    Performer: Walter Berry (Bass Baritone), Ruth Hesse (Voice), Horst Laubenthal (Voice), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Harald Pröglhöf (Voice), Bengt Rundgren (Bass), Jon Vickers (Tenor)

    Conductor: Karl Böhm


  14. Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65

    Composer: Richard Strauss

    Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Chorus, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

    Performer: Ingrid Bjoner (Soprano), Antonia Fahberg (Soprano), Lorenz Fehenberger (Tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Karl Helm (Bass), James King (Tenor), Karl Christian Kohn (Bass), Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Norbert Orth (Tenor), Hermann Sapell (Bass), Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Gudrun Wewezow (Mezzo Soprano)

    Conductor: Wolfgang Sawallisch


  15. Götterdämmerung: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene. Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

    Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)

    Conductor: Stig Rybrant


  16. Götterdämmerung: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene. Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Sydney Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)

    Conductor: Sir Charles Mackerras


  17. Tristan und Isolde, opera, WWV 90: Mild und leise wie er lächelt (Liebestod)

    Composer: Richard Wagner

    Ensemble: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Birgit Nilsson (Soprano)

    Conductor: Sergiu Celibidache