The Present Has A Lot To Learn From The Past...
Patricia N Ripley | Halifax, NS Canada | 08/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent CD for both professional singer and operaphile alike. The only reason I rated it 4 stars and not 5 was the idiosyncratic choice of selections: Lehmann's "Abscheulicher" aria from FIDELIO was in my view her very best recording and it is unfortunate it is not in this compilation. Otherwise, I cannot fault this re-issue. The sound is far less muddy than on some acoustic re-recordings and the tones are as crisp as can be expected from cylinders which were made in the decade before World War One. .... Forget the dreadful translation of the accompanying notes: in places it is absolutely incomprehensible and in other spots, just plain wrong. Purchase a copy of her "How to SIng" (available through Amazon) and read a more accurate account of her career and accomplishments.
Listen "through" the imperfections of recording and hear the technique and the interpretation. I listened to the entire CD twice without a break and then went back to what I thought were the most interesting tracks from a stylistic or interpretative perspective .... For me the lieder and the Mozart are extraordinary examples of great singing and interpretative style. Surprisingly, her Violetta is outstanding and even though I suspect she did not sing the full role in public for at least 20 years before these recordings were made, she is as true a mistress of the part as one could wish.
Her Donna Anna is outstanding and most of today's young singers could learn much from listening to her dramatic delamation of the recitativo followed by the outrage of "Or sai chi l'onore" or the pathos of "Non mi dir". .... I would not want to meet this Donna Anna in a dark street: Lehmann's interpretation makes Donna Anna one of the most determined and outraged characters I have ever heard in all of opera. This is one woman bent on revenge and fixated about getting it!
Of course there are some significant "ouch points". The lady was almost 60 when she made these recordings (a greater age then than now!) and so there is some pinching in her top register which is probably a function of her years. Unlike some of her colleagues in the Golden AGe of opera who chose to record only selected bits of their repertoire to favour their less than perfect capabilities, Lehmann had the courage to give us a complete sampling of her great roles, her lieder and some things which had been her specialty 20 to 30 years before, but which she had ceased to sing for decades.
.If you love singing and if you want to learn about how the great singers of the Golden Age approached their art, buy this CD and play it again and again!!"