Belated remembrances ...
_________________Edita Gruberova, Dazzling Soprano With Emotional Power, Dies at 74
A Slovak coloratura, she was a fixture at the opera houses of Vienna and Munich, artfully balancing technical brilliance with deep expression. ...
Edita Gruberova, a Slovak soprano who enchanted audiences with gleaming, vibrant and technically dazzling singing over a 50-year career, becoming a leading exponent of the coloratura soprano repertory, died on Monday in Zurich. She was 74.
The cause was a head injury from a fall in her home, said Markus Thiel, a music journalist and her biographer.
Ms. Gruberova, whose career was mainly in Europe, was a true coloratura soprano. She had a high, light and agile voice that was easily capable of dispatching embellished runs, all manner of trills and leaps to shimmering top notes.
She excelled in the roles associated with her voice type, especially in the early-19th-century bel canto operas of Bellini (Elvira in “I Puritani” and Giulietta in “I Capuleti e i Montecchi”), Donizetti (the title role in “Lucia di Lammermoor” and Elizabeth I in “Roberto Devereux”) and Rossini (notably Rosina in “Il Barbieri di Siviglia”).
Reviewing her 1989 performance as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Metropolitan Opera, the critic Martin Mayer wrote in Opera magazine that Ms. Gruberova “trills without thinking about it,” could “sing very softly and still project into the house” and “soars over ensemble and orchestra in the great third-act finale.” Many opera devotees considered her a successor to the formidable Joan Sutherland. ...
Edita Gruberova was born on Dec. 23, 1946, in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (in what is now Slovakia), the only child of a German father, Gustav Gruber, and a Hungarian mother, Etela Gruberova. Her father, a laborer, was a volatile man who drank to excess and was imprisoned for anti-Communist activities when Ms. Gruberova was a child. Her mother, who worked on a collective farm, a vineyard, had a pleasant singing voice and encouraged her gifted daughter’s singing in school choirs and local ensembles. ...
Her teacher at the conservatory, Maria Medvecka, arranged for Ms. Gruberova to audition for the Vienna State Opera in 1969. She did so secretly so that the Czech authorities would not find out.
An engagement there as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” followed in 1970 and brought her considerable attention. That year she emigrated to the West. She would go on to give more than 700 performances with the Vienna State Opera, the last a farewell gala concert in 2018. She also became a mainstay of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. ...
Ms. Gruberova leaves a large discography of recordings, including classic accounts of operas by Strauss, Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi, and albums of arias and songs. She appeared in several films of operas, most notably two directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle: Verdi’s “Rigoletto” in 1982, singing Gilda to Luciano Pavarotti’s Duke of Mantua, with Ingvar Wixell in the title role, and Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” in 1988, singing Fiordiligi.
Ms. Gruberova’s last performance in opera was as Elizabeth I in Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” in Munich in 2019.
In 1979, while singing Zerbinetta at the Met, she was briefly interviewed for the afternoon radio broadcast and made comments about the role that seemed pertinent to her own character.
“I don’t see her as a soubrette but as a young lady who has lived, you could say, with quite a past,” Ms. Gruberova said. “But she does not take anything too seriously, because she can laugh it off. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word melancholy.”https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/arts/music...Bernard Haitink, Perhaps the Wisest Conductor of Them All
The unflashy maestro, who died on Thursday, gave orchestras a sound with integrity, weight and gravity, without heaviness. ...
Mr. Haitink let the music emerge from the orchestra, often transcendently, without imposing a heavy-handed interpretation that a star conductor might.
His self-effacing nature was noticed early on.
He was “not one of the glamour boys on the podium,” Harold C. Schonberg, the chief classical music critic for The New York Times, wrote in January 1975 after Mr. Haitink’s debut with the New York Philharmonic, conducting Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7.
“He does not dance, he does not patronize the best tailor on the Continent,” Mr. Schonberg continued. “But he is a dedicated musician, always on top of the music, getting exactly what he wants from his players.” ...
In an opera world where increasingly outlandish stagings were becoming the fashion, Mr. Haitink had a strategy when required to conduct a production he didn’t like. “One closes one’s eyes and lives in the music,” he said in a 2009 interview with the Guardian.
( https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/sep/22... )
That strategy seemed to have worked at Covent Garden for a mid-1990s staging of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle by Richard Jones, in which Brünnhilde wore a body-stocking with a skeleton print and a gym skirt,
( http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainme... )
and the Rhinemaidens sported latex nude-body suits. ...
In addition to the Concertgebouw, Mr. Haitink held conductorships of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Dresden Staatskapelle. He also regularly led the Vienna Philharmonic, and in 2006 he was hired as principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
“These things are never planned, but things just happen to me — I’m not a chess player,” he told the Guardian,
( https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/sep/22... )
regarding the Chicago appointment.
His reputation for being unassuming trailed him throughout his career. In 1967, Time magazine described him as “a short, quiet man who likes to take long bird-watching rambles in the woods,” and pointed out that “in a profession where flamboyance and arrogance are often the hallmarks of talent, the diffident Haitink is an anomaly.” A New York Times article in 1976 carried the headline “Why Doesn’t Bernard Haitink Act Like a Superstar?” ...
In 2011, in another interview with The Guardian,
( https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/aug/11... )
Mr. Haitink mused on the strange life of a conductor. “I have been doing this job for 50 years,” he said. “And, you know, it is a profession and it is not a profession. It’s very obscure sometimes. What makes a good conductor? What is this thing about charisma? I’m still wondering after all these years.”https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/21/arts/music...Bernard Haitink, Perhaps the Wisest Conductor of Them All
The unflashy maestro, who died on Thursday, gave orchestras a sound with integrity, weight and gravity, without heaviness.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/arts/music...