Author Topic: Windgassen  (Read 5901 times)

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Michel

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Windgassen
« on: May 17, 2007, 11:53:14 AM »
Why do people like him?

His voice has no warmth, no depth, its too high. It is not expressive, and his delivery too distant.

Why is he considered great?

NB. I just posted this in the wrong place -- can someone move to opera? Sorry!
« Last Edit: May 19, 2007, 12:24:09 AM by Michel »

uffeviking

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Re: Windgassen Sucks
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2007, 07:20:47 PM »
Why do people like him?


A disclaimer first: I am generally not one to praise, glorify and pontificate past, retired or dead performers; they all had their days of glory and now is the turn for new talent. BUT I do like Windgassen mainly for his bright, clear and clean tenor voice; great diction too. I can not judge his acting because I have never seen a video of him, nor in person, of course.

Siegfried Jerusalem has often been compared to Windgassen.  :)

Offline Russel

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Re: Windgassen Sucks
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2007, 06:27:36 AM »
I saw Wolfgang Windgassen only once, at Bayreuth in 1958, where he sang one of the greatest Tristans I've ever heard. The Isolde was Brigit Nilsson, just at the beginning of her fabulous career. Mr. Windgassen was absolutely marvelous. Ms. Nilsson admired this tenor greatly, as a musician and as a truly fine man in all respects. At the time, and into the 1960's, Wolfgang Windgassen was the only tenor who could sing every tenor role, including Tannhauser and Siegfried, on a regular basis. Jess Thomas also did the same thing a little later, although I'm not sure the Mr. Thomas ever sang Tannhauser.

Windgassen's voice was not to everybody's taste. I love his recorded performance of Tristan and Isolde at Bayreuth with Nilsson (conducted by Bohm and considered by many as one of the live great opera recordings of all time.) He did take over the Siegfried role on the famous Solti Ring cycle when the scheduled tenor came to the recording studio without knowing the role. (His name has always been a mystery. Can anyone identify him?) Windgassen is a good Siegfried (again with Nilsson) and arguably the best Siegfried in the world at the time. He appears as helden tenor on innumerable Bayreuth live performances in every major tenor role in the Wagner repertoire, including Loge. He was the Bayreuth tenor of the time, and the Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner brothers claimed that without him Bayreuth would have been a dreary place. Ramon Vinay and a handful of other helden tenors sang there, but Windgassen stood out.

He did sing a Ring Cycle Siegfried at the Met that I heard over the radio while I was at college, but he never caught on with Bing or American audience. He sang mostly in Europe at Stuttgart, his home base, in productions by Wieland Wagner, including Die Freischutz, Fidelio, and in several Verdi operas. There are many "pirated" recordings of his singing everything under the sun.

I have a Tannhauser from Berlin (again with Nilsson) in which his voice is strained. He is near the end of the career and all those Tristans and Tannhausers have caught up with him.   But despite a worn, tired voice he's so magnificent in the recording as the tortured Tannhauser that it has become one of my favorite recordings. Listen to his third act and you will hear what I'm talking about. It's dynamite!

I would say that the majority of opera fans who have not heard him live and only through his recordings would perhaps consider him a second-rate tenor. That opinion is not shared by me. Certainly the subject heading of this thread does injustice to this fine man.

Someone on the thread remarked that he is sometimes compared to Siegfried Jerusalem.  I don't hear any similarity in their voices.  I heard Mr. Jerusalem sing several Siegfrieds at the Met and a Tristan at Bayreuth in 1996. Both specialized in Wagner's helden tenor roles and sang their hearts out throughout their careers without cancelling much. 

I wish someone could delete the subject heading of this thread. It's demeaning to a great artist who served music and particularly Wagner well all his life!

bwv 1080

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Re: Windgassen Sucks
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2007, 06:29:01 AM »
With a name like Windgassen would it not be more appropriate to say that he blows?

uffeviking

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Re: Windgassen Sucks
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 06:43:49 AM »

I wish someone could delete the subject heading of this thread. It's demeaning to a great artist who served music and particularly Wagner well all his life!

Beautiful article, thank you very much! As I posted before, I have never heard or seen Windgassen life, only know him from recordings, not even a video, but from what I heard, I am total agreement with you.

I have tried everything I could think of to remove the offending word, even the entire heading, but it seems the powers of moderators are limited.  :'(

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Windgassen is Great
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2007, 06:44:00 AM »
He did take over the Siegfried role on the famous Solti Ring cycle when the scheduled tenor came to the recording studio without knowing the role. (His name has always been a mystery. Can anyone identify him?)

I wish someone could delete the subject heading of this thread. It's demeaning to a great artist who served music and particularly Wagner well all his life!

Awhile ago this question came up in this forum and one member said it was Ernest Kozub, AKA Erik in the famous Klemperer Dutchman for EMI.

I totally agree the title of the thread is demeaning to an artist such as Windgassen.

Wendell_E

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Windgassen doesn't suck
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2007, 07:26:14 AM »
Wolfgang Windgassen was the only tenor who could sing every tenor role, including Tannhauser and Siegfried, on a regular basis. Jess Thomas also did the same thing a little later, although I'm not sure the Mr. Thomas ever sang Tannhauser.

Mr. Thomas did sing Tannhäuser, including some performances in the late 70's at the Met.  I remember reading an interview in which he said he had a ring made with two 'T's for 'Tristan' and 'Tannhäuser'.

I really like Windgassen, especially that '66 Bayreuth Tristan, '51 Bayreuth Parsifal and the '53 Bayreuth Lohengrin with Steber (the first opera recording I ever bought.  The Parsifal was the second or third).
« Last Edit: May 18, 2007, 07:43:03 AM by Wendell_E »

Offline Brewski

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Windgassen is Marvelous
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2007, 11:09:03 AM »
The only recording of his I've heard is the Tristan with Nilsson, and I think all the accolades are right on target.  Between the soloists, Böhm and the orchestra, it's quite something. 

--Bruce
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Offline Russel

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Re: Windgassen Sucks
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2007, 05:07:03 PM »
In reference to Wolfgang's performances at the Metropolitan:

He sang seven performances for the Met: six at the old house on broadway and 40th Street, and one performance with the Met in Philadelphia. (At that time, the Met was still packing up a train with scenery and moving to Philadelphia every Monday night for one performance. The Met House in New York was dark some Monday nights.)

Mr. Windgassen made his debut on Jan. 22, 1957 as Siegmund in Walkure with Marianne Schech (remember her?) as Sieglinde, also making her Met debut. Dmitri Mitropolous conducted, and Otto Edelmann was the Wotan. Wonderful Margaret Harshaw was Brunnhilde. How I wish I could have been at this performance!

Eight days later, on Jan. 30th, Mr. Windgassen sang the role of Siegfried at the Met with Martha Modl as Brunnhilde. These two performance were not a part of a Ring Cycle. A short time later, Mr. Windgassen journeyed down to Philadelphia and repeated the performance.

His one Ring Cycle began with the Saturday Broadcast of 2/16/57 in which he sang Siegfried with Martha Modl. Fritz Stiedry conducted. On 3/1/57 he completed the cycle with a Broadcast of Gotterdammerung.
Four days later he sang his last performance at the Met, a Gotterdammerung.

So Mr. Windgassen's career at the Met was, unfortunately, a short one. No Parsifals, Lohengrins, or Tristans.
The Parsifals were handled by such tenors as Hans Hopf, Set Svanholm, Charles Kullman, Bernd Aldenhoff, and Ramon Vinay. The Tannhausers were handled by the same tenors. At the time, Parsifal was a religious ceremony at the Met on Good Fridays. The place was like a cathedral. No applauding after Act I, and lots of hushing and shushing if some dared to applaud when the curtain came down.

Jess Thomas, an absolutely wonderful tenor who sang many fine Tristans, Walter von Stoltzings, Lohengrins, Parsifals and Siegfrieds during the 1970's and 1980's at the Met, sang Tannhauser seven times with the Met organization, but only three at Lincoln Center.  His other Tannhausers were in Tennessee, Texas, Minnesota,  and Pennsylvania.

I adored Jess Thomas. I was at the Met premier Ariadne auf Naxos when he sang a powerful Bacchus, and saw him in almost every role he did at the Met, including several great Florestans, Siegfrieds, and Tristans, as well as Radames and the Calif in Turandot. His career at the Met was somewhat overwhelmed by Jon Vickers who did some of the same roles (but not Siegfried or Tannhauser.) Once Mr. Thomas replaced Mr. Vickers in Tristan and Isolde when Vickers, in a snit, refused to sing with a replacement for Nilsson and flew off to Bermuda. It was a scandal at the time, but I was at the performance and it was an absolute success! (Klara Barlow was the replacement.) Mr. Thomas saved the broadcast and was such a success that Ickers hurried back from Bermuda to sing the next performances.

I saw several of Thomas's Tristans with Birgit Nilsson, and they were absolutely marvelous together. Jess thomas looked fabulous on stage, and he was probably the best-looking Siegfried of the century. He was in the old production and wore the traditional Siegried "animal-hide costume" to great effect. He acted and moved like an echte Siegfried.

It is wonderful to reminisce about these two tenors -- Windgassen and Thomas -- in my autumnal years!

uffeviking

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Re: Windgassen Sucks
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2007, 05:24:27 PM »
Wunderbar to read your reminiscence about Heldentenöre and their performance history. The only recording of Martha Mödl I have in my collection is a Tristan und Isolde with Ramon Vinay at Bayreuth, von Karajan conducting.

Thank you so much - and of course: A very friendly Welcome Greeting. Visit us more often, please!

Offline Chaszz

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Re: Windgassen Sucks
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2007, 08:03:30 PM »
In my opinion, Windgassen was not quite as STRONG a tenor voice as Wagner demands, but he made up for this with a certain profound depth of feeling which always came through in his voice and his vibrato. His natural sympathy for the character he plays is always apparent, and I am continually moved by it. He is the most HUMAN of tenors. In the famous live Bayreuth Tristan recording, among the trio of himself, Nillson and the Bohm-led orchestra, he is physically the weakest of the three, but emotionally absolutely equal to the other two. It is a tremendous tribute to his enormous talents as an artist that, with a slightly weaker voice than what is really required, he is fundamental to making that recording the white-hot masterpiece that it is.

Thise who sadly regret the title of this thread are absolutely correct. What a travesty. 

Michel

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Re: Windgassen
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2007, 12:27:08 AM »
Oh stop complaining all of you; these singers are people, not gods! It was only supposed to be a bit of fun.

However, since Russel posted such great posts, at his request I've decided to edit it.


Offline Russel

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Re: Windgassen
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2007, 03:04:43 AM »
Thank you, Michel, with warm regards.

Russel


Michel

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Re: Windgassen
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2007, 07:27:19 AM »
Thank you, Michel, with warm regards.

Russel



As Liz, said, please post here more often!  :)

uffeviking

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Re: Windgassen
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2007, 08:08:41 AM »
Thank you for your endorsement, Michel; thank you for changing the title of the thread -

and I thank you once more to please stop misspelling my name! Luv, it's with an s not a z! Love you anyhow!  :-*

Lis aka uffeviking  :D

Offline jochanaan

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Re: Windgassen
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2007, 05:16:51 PM »
I have the 1951 Bayreuth Parsifal with Windgassen and Mödl, led by Hans Knappertsbusch.  No arguments re Windgassen's greatness.  (I got it out again, just to listen to Windgassen's "Amfortas!  Die Wunde!")
Imagination + discipline = creativity

uffeviking

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Re: Windgassen
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2007, 05:24:10 PM »
Sends chills down your spine, raises the hair at the back of your neck and makes you forget to breath!

Have not heard it like that lately. I think the only coming close to it was Siegfried Jerusalem, but that too was years ago.

Offline jochanaan

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Re: Windgassen
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2007, 01:23:40 PM »
Sends chills down your spine, raises the hair at the back of your neck and makes you forget to breath!
Indeed. :D
Imagination + discipline = creativity