Sunday, August 21, 2011

Golden Age Singer of the Week--Gertrude Grob-Prandl

Forgotten Austrian soprano Gertrude Grob-Prandl (1917-1995) sings Ho-jo-to-ho from some opera or other. No date or other information given for the recording.

In questa reggia from Turandot. Antonio Spruzzola-Zola (Calaf), La Fenice (Venice), Franco Capuana, conductor, 1953

Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. RAI concert, Oliviero di Fabritis, conductor, 1953

Robert le Diable. Details undisclosed. Amazing.

Donna Anna. Wiener Symphoniker, Hans Swarowsky, conductor, 1950

Gertrude Grob-Prandl (11 November 1917 – 16 May 1995) was an Austrian Wagnerian soprano.

Grob-Prandl was born in Vienna and studied at the conservatory there. She originally intended to become a piano teacher but the professors at the conservatory began to notice the size of her voice and she was placed in a singing class. She made her debut at the Vienna Volksoper as Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana. She graduated to heavier roles such as Isolde, Brunnhilde and Turandot. She retired in 1972.

Some of her colleagues considered her greater than the other great Wagnerian sopranos of her generation, Birgit Nilsson, Kirsten Flagstad, and Astrid Varnay. Irmgard Seefried once remarked that the "walls shook" when Grob-Prandl sang Turandot. A popular anecdote states that she was once interrupted while performing as Turandot, by fire-fighters. People outside the theater had mistaken her for a fire-alarm siren.

Unlike many big Wagnerians, she was dexterous enough to sing Mozart, and she was a supportive, unselfish ensemble-singer. Besides size, her voice had a distinctive burnished timbre and a tight, brisk, consistent vibrato.

Available recordings include Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, First Lady in The Magic Flute, Brunhilde, Isolde, and if one searches hard, Elektra, Turandot, and Elettra in Idomeneo. There is also an anthology of her solo work.

She died on 16 May 1995 in the city of her birth.

(Bio from, of course.)

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