April 10, 2008

Move Directly to Sublime

For those of you who wish to focus on something other than the depressingly awful, ultimately meaningless spectacle of our electoral politics or the monstrously homicidal realities of United States foreign policy, listen to this wonderful program about Richard Tauber, and his life and recorded legacy. Tauber appears on almost every list of the twentieth century's greatest tenors, usually at or near the very top.

The entire program is eminently worth listening to. For an extraordinary treat, listen to the duet with Lotte Lehmann from Korngold's Die tote Stadt, beginning at about 9:30. Sublime is perhaps the best word to describe it.

The last aria John Cargher plays on his Tauber program is the final recording Tauber made, Tamino's aria from Mozart's Magic Flute. It is astonishingly beautiful in every respect, and remarkable for a man in his mid-fifties. Tauber gave his final live performance, as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, with his beloved Vienna State Opera when the company visited London in the fall of 1947. Elizabeth Schwarzkopf was in that performance and said about it: "None of us had ever been on a stage with a singer of the caliber of Richard Tauber." Tauber died just three months later at the age of 56, of lung cancer. As Cargher notes, he had sung that last performance with only one lung.

Now, I'm going to listen to that Korngold duet again, for the tenth or eleventh time since I heard it again last evening for the first time in many years.