Berlin

Christmas with Pavarotti: The East German “O holy night” album

During the Cold War Pavarotti’s recordings were rarely published in the Communist Bloc countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and he rarely held concerts behind the Iron Curtain during that period.

One of the very few exceptions took place in East Germany, or the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which was its official name, or Die Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). as it was known in German.

In 1982, the East German state classical record label Eterna, based in East Berlin, published Pavarotti’s Christmas album “O holy night” under the title Ave Maria” on LP and Music Cassette.

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The album contained 9 tracks, which was the same tracks as the original UK Decca LP release. The US London LP version contained two more tracks, but these two tracks later appeared on later editions of the album in UK and around the world.

The Ave Maria Eterna LP can easily be found in second-hand stores in Germany and elsewhere. What a treasure to have in your Pavarotti collection!

Imagine the divided city of Berlin in 1982: Pavarotti’s Christmas album was published in East Berlin, and in West Berlin Pavarotti sang in the Verdi opera Aida at Deutsche Oper. Read about Pavarotti in that West Berlin Aida here and here.

Imagine also this: In 1989 the Berlin Wall was open and would later be teared down. The divided city was no longer divided and soon Berlin would become the capital of a united Germany.

I wish you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas!

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This post was first published 21-12-2014. Last revision 21-12-2014.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall

Today, on 9 November 2015, marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. The main celebrations are of course in Berlin, but we are all Berliners today. In  Berlin, in Germany and all around the world. Here are some photos of what is left of the Berlin wall today.

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This post was first published 09-11-2014. Last revision 09-11-2014.

Pavarotti in Berlin (11): Pavarotti’s debut with the Berlin Philharmonic (but not in Berlin as one might think!)

How time flies! Just the other day it was 40 years since the great Pavarotti made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic. On the 24th of June 1974 Pavarotti joined the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by the great Herbert von Karajan in Verdi’s Requiem.

However, this performance didn’t take place in Berlin as one might think, but in the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria.

It looks like Pavarotti didn’t sing with the Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin at all, at least not with Karajan, according to this source.

I haven’t found any evidence that Pavarotti sang with the Berlin Philharmonic in the post-Karajan period either, but I may have overlooked something.

Pavarotti did however also sing with the Berlin Philharmonic in the Großes Festspielhaus in Salzburg, Austria, and at the Carnegie Hall in New York, USA, all with Karajan conducting.

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So lets look at the facts for the performance on that historic day 40 years ago:

Herbert von Karajan (conductor), Berliner Philharmoniker (orchestra), Wiener Singverein (choir)

Mirella Freni (soprano), Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano), Luciano Pavarotti (tenor), José van Dam (bass-baritone)

Musikverein, Vienna, Austria (venue), 24th of June 1974 (date)

It must be added that the Italian soprano Mirella Freni also made her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in this performance.

What a historic performance it turned out to be! And before you start to ask: No recording of this performance excist as far as I know!

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This post was first published 01-07-2014. Last revision 01-07-2014.

Pavarotti in Berlin (10): More arias from Pavarotti’s 1983 Berlin recital

Pavarotti held on 15th May 1983 a recital at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with John Wustman at the piano. There are many audio tracks from this recital out there on YouTube, so many that I think that the entire recital is out there!

In an earlier post I published four arias from that recital. Here are six more from that very same recital.

More about Pavarotti in Berlin in future blog posts!

Anyway, I’m off to Berlin! Soon! Very soon! 🙂

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This post was originally published 11-04-2014. Last revision 11-04-2014.

Pavarotti message of the month: It’s spring! It’s April!

It’s the month of April! It’s springtime! Let’s celebrate with Pavarotti singing the lovely song Aprile by the Italian composer Tosti.

Pavarotti recorded this song for his Decca studio album Mattinata. This album was recorded in 1977 and 1982, was issued on LP in 1983, and is now available on Decca CD, download and streaming. The National Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Antonio Tonini. This recording of Aprile is also available on several Pavarotti compilation CDs. You can hear this recoding in the first video below. This video also contains English translation of the lyrics.

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Pavarotti also sang this song in his recitals. At least one live version of Aprile sung with piano accompaniment is available on several unofficial Pavarotti recital CDs. The last two videos are from such live performances (audio only). There’s no information about the first, but the second is taken from a recital at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 15th May 1983 with John Wustman at the piano.

So enjoy spring! Enjoy April! Enjoy Life!

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This post was originally published 07-04-2014. Last revision 07-04-2014.

Tenor vs. countertenor: Per la gloria d’adorarvi

Yes, I’m a tenor man, but my mad love affair with the countertenor voice continues. It’s time once again to compare the tenor voice with the countertenor voice!

Here is the same aria sung twice. First by a tenor, then by a countertenor. The aria is Per la gloria d’adorarvi from Bononcini’s Griselda.

It goes without saying that the tenor is Luciano Pavarotti. The countertenor is the wonderful German Jochen Kowalski. Only the best in the business (as always)!

The Pavarotti recording can be found on his studio album Pavarotti in concert. The Kowalski recording can be found on his album Arien aus der Berliner Operngeschichte (Arias from Berlin’s operatic history), a highly recommended introduction to Jochen Kowalski’s countertenor voice.

Which version do you like best? Tenor or countertenor? Is it possible to like them both? I think so!

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Read more about my writings on countertenors here!

This post was originally published 07-02-2014. Last revision 07-02-2014.