Quite possibly the most successful opera composer of the 20th century, Richard Strauss consistently wrote strong roles for his heroines. Not just the Marschallin in “Der Rosenkavalier,” but many more – from Salome and Elektra to the Countess in “Capriccio.” The outstanding singers of each generation have loved to take on these powerful roles, each of which portrays a woman taking control of her own destiny, while Strauss’s orchestra swirls around her, supporting her vocal line, recalling what happened earlier, suggesting what is going on in her mind that even she may not be fully aware of. Here are a few selections of great scenes for soprano from the operas of Strauss, some widely known, others less so.
Christine Brewer, and the wonderfully rich bass baritone of Eric Owens [on Recognition Scene from Elektra, and the Imprisonment Scene from Die Frau ohne Schatten] under the direction of Donald Runnicles leading the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bring out the intrigue of Strauss’ heroines on Great Strauss Scenes.
GRAMMY®-Award-winning American soprano Christine Brewer’s appearances in opera, concert, and recital are marked with her own unique timbre, at once warm and brilliant, combined with a vibrant personality and emotional honesty reminiscent of the great sopranos of the past. Her range, golden tone, boundless power, and control make her a favorite of the stage as well as a sought-after recording artist. Her other recordings on Telarc include Dvorák’s Te Deum with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem, Strauss’ Four Last Songs for which the Sunday Times said “she brings a soaring opulence to this music, the tone sumptuous and rounded, the top notes gleaming and full, unequalled by any other soprano in this music today,” both with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony.
Acclaimed for his commanding stage presence and inventive artistry, American bass-baritone Eric Owens has carved a unique place in the contemporary opera world as both a champion of new music and a powerful interpreter of classic works. Mr. Owens has been recognized with multiple awards, including the 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, and first prizes in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition.
Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles has been in partnership with Music Director Robert Spano in leading the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 2001. He is one of today’s most consistently acclaimed conductors of both opera and symphonic repertoire. This is Runnicles’ third Telarc disc with Brewer; of their Four Last Songs recording, Gramophone said Brewer “uses her large voice cunningly, always staying with the words…,” and “Runnicles accompanies like a fine pianist, full of subtle nudges and holds.” Other acclaimed Runnicles/Telarc recordings include Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony¸ and Brittania.
1 Recognition Scene
from Elektra, Op. 58
2 Moonlight Interlude
from Capriccio, Op. 85
3 Imprisonment Scene
from Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65
(“The Woman without a Shadow”)
4 Dance of the Seven Veils
from Salome, Op. 54
5 Final Scene
from Salome, Op. 54