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Freitag, 7. März 2014

Alexander Kipnis: Rare Recordings Vol. 3 - Opera live Recordings

Alexander Kipnis and Jarmila Novotna in Zauberflöte, Salzburg 1937 

The third Playlist begins with two excerpts of a Zauberflöte from the Salzburger Festspiele 1937. I don't know if it the production was filmed on a separate date or if we hear a real live performance. The sound comes from two film exerpts of the RAVAG (Austrian Radio Company) and was published on the Pearl LP you see at the bottom of this article.

Die Zauberflöte (Mozart):

 1.  Man führe Tamino...O Isis und Osiris
 2.  Morden soll ich?...In diesen heiligen Hallen

Track 2 with Jarmila Novotna (Pamina), William Werningk (Monostatos)
rec. 30.VII.1937, Salzburger Festspiele, Cond. Arturo Toscanini

A very famous recording is the Don Giovanni from the Met conducted by Bruno Walter from 1942 with Ezio Pinza, Bidu Sayao, Charles Kullmann, Jarmila Novotna and Rose Bampton. It is worth listening to in full lenght. Here is the only solo of Kipnis as Leporello:

Don Giovanni (Mozart)

3. Madamina, el catalogo e questo

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Cond. Bruno Walter, rec. 7.III.42

Another complete Met broadcast, which shows Kipnis in a role not very typical for him (even if he sang it a few times) is the Pelleas from 1945. Kipnis sings Arkel, the Grandfather of Golaud and "King of Allemonde" (in French) - another challenging role of a King and Father like Phillip in Don Carlos or King Marke in Tristan. It is a medium extensive role, and you have here all the important scenes with Kipnis.

Pelleas et Melisande (Debussy) 

 4. Act IV - Scene 2 - Maintenant que le pere de Pelleas

5.-7. Act 5 Finale: Qu'avez-vous faites?...Qu'y a-t-il...Attention, attention!

Alexander Kipnis (Arkel), Bidu Sayao (Melisande), Lawrence Tibbett (Golaud), Lorenzo Alvary (Physician)
Orch. of the Metropolitan Opera, Cond. Emil Cooper, rec. 13.I.1945

Now comes the highlight of this playlist, the thrilling portrait of Hunding in the first act of "Die Walküre".

Die Walküre (Wagner) 1. Aufzug

 8. Müd am Herd fand ich den Mann
 9. Friedmund darf ich nicht heissen
10. Die so leidig Los Dir beschied, nicht liebte Dich die Norn
11. Ich weiss ein wildes Geschlecht

Alexander Kipnis (Hunding), Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund), Astrid Varnay (Sieglinde)
Orch. of the Metropolitan Opera, Cond. Erich Leinsdorf, rec. 06.XII.1941

The Tristan Monologue in full lenght:

Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)

12. Tatest du's wirklich (Marke's Monolugue Act 2)

Orch. of the Metropolitan Opera, Cond. Erich Leinsdorf, rec. 06.II.1943

Kipnis in Don Carlo

At last here are two rarities, but not every rarity must be a pleasure to listen to. In the 1990ies, Koch Schwann published a bulk of newly transferd live recordings of the Vienna State Opera. They were made by Hermann May, who had the permisson to record live from behind the stage scenes of actual live performances. He did so on a relatively primitve eqipment, and so the technical quality of the recordings often demands a lot of concentration to find the treasures that are kept hidden in the recordings. The recordings were published on 24 double-CDs. I bought a few of them then, but I do not have access to all of them. A few contained live recordings of Alexander Kipnis. The first is a compilation of two performances of Don Carlo, recorded in December 1936 and January 1937 with Kipnis as Filippo, published on Vol. 10 (and provided by my blog-friend Darren).

The recordings given here include all recorded scenes where Kipnis sings, which means that tracks 17 and 19 from the CD are omitted in my compilation. They are given as tracks 13 to 17 of my playlist. The recordings include some mass scenes, the scene with the grand inquisitor and the monologue of Phillip. The discs on which the performances were recorded were short, and so we always only get snippets. You can get an impression how it may have sounded in Vienna, and other recordings of the edition show important singers like Henny Trundt and Todor Mazaroff, who have not recorded otherwise, but sometimes it is a bit exhausting to listen to these recordings. But still we get a fascinating portrait given by Kipnis, and the duet with Alfred Jerger is captivating. In track 18 (No. 16 in my playlist) Kipnis dominates the scene.

Kipnis as Mephisto

If you haven't got enough by now, here is a second performance from Vienna. It is a "Margarete" snippet from 7.III.1937, published in Vol. 4 of the CDs. Kipnis sings just about the first 15 seconds, but, alas, it is his only live recording of this opera.

Faust (or Margarethe) (Gounod)

18. Auf eilet, auf eilet (Trio Act 5)

Alexander Kipnis (Mephisto), Esther Rethy (Margarethe), Jussi Björling (Faust)
Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper, cond. Josef Krips

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A list of Kipnis live performances you can find here:

What I really would like to hear is his Parsifal under Fritz Busch from Teatro Colon 1936, published by Ward Marston. If one of my readers could provide me with a copy, I really would be thankful.
There is also a "Rosenkavalier" from the same place and year, also with Busch, which I have never heard and find desirable.

As a PS. I give you a few informations about the Pearl GEMM LP 277/78. It contains his acoustic recordings and some unissued takes from HMV, which do not really sound different to the published ones and were cut on the same day as the ones that are on the Preiser CDs. The recordings came from the collection of Kipnis' son Igor, a reputed harpsichordist.

Pearl Double-LP GEMM 277/78

PEARL Gemm 277/78 tracks (1)

PEARL Gemm 277/78 tracks (2)

So, this has become a long playlist with 85 minutes - I hope not too long for you. Today, when it is published in my blog, it will be exactly 72 years ago when Bruno Walter's famous Don Giovanni was recorded at the Met (see my track 3) and exactly 77 years after the last track of my playlist, the Faust excerpt, was performed...


  1. The duet in Don Carlos is surely between Kipnis and Alfred Jerger, as the Grand Inquisitor, rather than with Herbert Alsen, listed as the Frate (Charles V)...

    Stupendo, even in German! I have never heard a King Philip refuse more impassionedly to surrender Posa to the Inquisition -- Jerger is wonderful and it is hard to think of any performance of the duet between Philip and the Grand Inquisitor where the differences between them are somewhat blurred by such an exceptional lyrical phrasing, on the part of each man -- and one of them Kipnis! Who was even more accomplished than Jerger.

    Many thanks again! A glorious transfusion.

  2. You are right, it must be Alfred Jerger. I corrected it in the article.