Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hildegard Behrens

By now you may have heard that soprano Hildegard Behrens has passed away, suddenly, while travelling in Japan. In obituaries and appreciations (like Anthony Tommasini's in the New York Times), you can learn about her late start as an opera singer, and her seemingly inevitable trajectory into Wagnerian roles. My own memory of her comes from 1988, when she was in Boston for semi-staged performances of Richard Strauss's Elektra with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa, performances which are also referenced by Alex Ross of the New Yorker and which were recorded for a commercial release. In my mind, it's impossible to overstate the individual power of that performance, which was echoed in Gramophone magazine (reviewing that subsequent CD): "... so much of her performance is felt instinctively from the heart and is communicated to her audience in this live concert through her psychological understanding of the part expressed in her vibrant, very personal tone." (April 1989)

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