MAESTRO June, 1973, Volumes 4 & 5
by The Arturo Toscanini Society


The most internationally famous Czechoslovak singer after Leo Slezak and Maria Jeritza, was born in Prague on September 23, 1907. She studied there and later in Milan, returning home for her stage debut as violetta in La Traviata in 1926. After that she appeared as guest in a number of European theaters and become to member of the Vienna State Opera in 1933. A high point of her career in Vienna was the world premiere of Franz Lehar's Giuditta in 1934. The following year she began a series of appearances at the Salzburg Festival, meanwhile continuing to sing in Berlin, Munich, Milan, Rome, Paris, Brussels and Florence. Leaving Europe in 1938, she came to America, where at first the going was hard for her. Introduced to general manager Edward Johnson through the good offices of Toscanini, she was signed for the 1939-40 season of the Metropolitan Opera, making her debut January 5,1940, as Mimi in La Boheme with Jussi Bjoerling. Olin Downes reported in the New York Times the next morning that "Mme. Novotona presented her character with charming simplicity, feeling, and high artistic intelligence. "Remaining on the Met roster, she became famous during the next decade for Smetana's Bartered Bride (the company's last revival of the Czech classic, in 1940-42, given in English under Bruno Walter) as well as for Violetta, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and Antonia inLes Contes D'Hoffmann. She dropped out for the 1951-52 season but returned to sing Orlofsky in Johann Strauss 'Fledermaus, 1952-56. In private life the Baroness Daubek, she lives today in retirement in Vienna.
Who recentry celebrated his eightieth birthday at home in Westport, Connecticut, was born at Zhitomir in the Ukraine on February 1,1891. While studying Berlin (he had started his training in Warsaw), he was interned as an alien at the outset of World War T, but he was then set free and made his debut in Hamburg in 1916, going on to three seasons at Wiesbaden.His other early credits include the Deutsche Oper Berlin (1919-30) and Chicago Opera (1924-32), with guest appearances at La Scala, the Paris Opera, Vienna and Munich. Like Roswaengeand Domgraf-Fassbaender he was a mainstay of the Berlin State Opera during its golden period of the early 1930's. and he sang Wagner at Bayleuth 1927-33. Joining the Noah's Ark of musicians who left Europe before the advancing tide of Hitler, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut on January 5, 1940, as Gurnemanz in Parsifal, and remained until 1946. Perhaps his most famous characterization was Boris Godunov, from which he recorded extensive excerpts in Russian under Nicolai Berezowsky's direction (now available on a Victrola LP). But his reputation rested at least equally on a remarkable recital career, of which Seraphim, Victrola and Columbia LP's remain as eloquent testimony. In his heyday he had concertized as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. Noted as an actor and interpreter, he is still active as a teacher, and his musical heritage is carried on by his son, Igor Kipnis, the baroque harpsichordist.
Helge Roswaenge, like Lauritz Melchoir, is an unmelanchory Dane. Born in Copenhagen on August 29, 1897, he stdied to be a Chenist (profession that stood him in good stead when singing jobs were scarce) and at first sang only for pleasure. . But, deciding to give music a try, he studied voice at home, then in Berlin, and made his debut in 1921 at Neustrelitz. His major career began with the Berlin State Opera in 1929, and he divided his time between that company and the Vienna State Opera, which hired him the followong year. His first Sarzburg apperarance was in 1932. Though he concertized abroad, including a Verdi Requiem under Toscanini in London in 1938, Roswaenge preferred to devote himself mainly to his own public in Germarny and Austria. He appeared as Parsifal at Baylreuth (1934-36) but sang mostly Mozart and lylic-dramatic Itarian tenor roles, which he knew only in German. Blessed with a rugged constitution and vocal stamina, he kept right on singing in Berlin during the war, emerging to play some of his familiar roles there and in Vienna after peacetime returned. He also managed an operetta theater in Vienna and concertized as late as 1963-64 in the U.S.A., where he was known only by his records - notably a complete Magic Flute under Beecham, now available on the Turnabout label in a low-priced LP reissue.
JULIA OSVATH (the Queen of the Night)
German spelling "Julie", was born February 15, 1908 in Budapest. She studied at the Liszt Academy there, as well as taking private lessons, and by June 7, 1935, she was ready for her stage debut in the role of Maria Gara in Ferenc Erkel's Hungarian Opera Hunyadi Laszlo. That same year she joined the Hungarian National Opera, remaining on the company's roster until June, 1966, when she retired. Her roles included both Pamina and the Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Fiordilige in Cosi Fan Tutte, the Countess in the Marriage of Figaro, Eva in Die Meistersinger, Elsa in Lohengrin, Violetta in La Traviata and the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. Besides Salzburg, she made guest appearances in Ostend, Leningrad, Bucharest, Sophia, and other Central European Cities. In the 1957-58 season Tibor Nadas reported to the English mgazine Opera that she was a "poetic Eridice" in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. As recentry as 1959 she appeared as Milinda, the hero's wife, in Qualiton's full-length recording of the most famous Hungarian romantic opera. Erkel's Bank Ben. She lives today in retirement in Budapest, having earned the Kossuth Prize (1949), the title of Honored Artist (1951) and a state pension.
(noted by John W. Freeman)
Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender, a native of Aachen, was born February 19, 1897. After studies in Germany he went to Milan, where his teacher was the noted tenor Giuseppe Borgatti, thus he acquired authenticity in the Itarlian language and bel canto line. Returning to Aachen, He made his stage debut there in 1922 and soon found himself in demand in other cities: Berlin (Deutsche Oper 1923-25) , Duesseldorf, Stuttgart. He became first lylic baritone at the Berlin State Opera in 1930 and maintained a long career there, through World War U, making his principal impact elsewhere in summer festivals - Salzburg and Glyndebourne. In fact he inaugurated the Glyndebourne Festival as Figaro in 1934., adding the roles of Guglielmo (Cosi Fan Tutti) and Papageno in 1935 and '37. The first two of these roles were preserved in the famous HMV recording of the Glyndebourne Festival, now available on LP under the low-priced Turnabout label. After the war the baritone was still singing (Hanover, Vienna, Munich) but began to shift his attention to stage direction with the Municipal Theater of Nuremberg, still singing occasionally, for example the role of Ottokar in his own production of Der Freischuetz, 1962-63. The mantle of his artistry has been passed bo to his daughter, Brigitte Fassbaender, the noted mezzo-soprano of the Bavarian State Opera, Munich.