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Hochdramatische Sopran (High Dramatic Soprano)

Frida Leider, Liebestod (1931) Sir John Babirolli (c); also Lotte Lehmann

By February 15, 2018September 15th, 2019No Comments

Frida Leider was one of the greatest sopranos who ever lived.  She sang a heavy repertoire, although later when she was older, she learned to bring her voice down enough to sing Lieder without blasting the audience out of its seats.  I will speak more about Frida Leider at a future time, but here is her Liebestod.  And just for comparison, here is Lotte Lehmann’s Liebestod.  Lehmann was in many ways a miracle of singing and a great favorite of Richard Strauss.  More about her in the future as well.  Which do you like better?

Original German Text
Mild und leise, wie er lächelt
Wie das Auge hold er öffnet,
seht iht, Freunde?
Seht ihr’s nicht?
Immerlichter, wie er leuchtet
Sternumstrahlet hoch sich hebt?
Seht ihrs nicht?
Wie das Herz ihm muthig schwillt
Voll und hehr im Busen ihm quillt?
Wie den Lippen, wonnig mild,
süsser Athem sanft entweht
Freunde! Seht!
Fühlt und seht ihr’s nicht?
Höre ich nur diese Wiese
Die so wundervoll und leise
Wonne klagend, Alles sagend,
mild versöhnend
Aus ihm tönend, in mich dringet,
auf sich schwinget
Hold erhallend um mich klinget
Heller schallend, mich um wallend,
sind es Wellen sanfter Lüfte?
Sind es Wolken wonniger Düfte?
Wie sie schwellen, mich umrauschen,
soll ich athmen, soll ich lauschen?
Soll ich schlüfgen, untertauchen?
Süß in Düften mich verhauchen?
In dem wogenden Schwall
in dem tönenden Schall
In des Weltathems, wehenden All
Ertrinken, versinken, unbewusst

Höchste Lust

English Translation
Softly and gently, see him smiling
How the eyes that open fondly,
see it, Friend?
Don’t you see?
Ever lighter, how he’s shining
Borne on high amongst the stars?
Don’t you see?
How his heart so bravely swells
Full and calm it throbs in his breast?
As from lips so joyfully mild,
sweet the breath that softly stirs
Friends! Look!
Don’t you feel and see it?
It is only I that hear this way
So wondrous and gentle
Joyously sounding, telling all things,
Sounding from him, penetrating me,
rising upward swinging on itself
Echoes fondly around me ringing
Ever clearer, wafting round me,
are they waves of gentle breezes?
Are they clouds of gladdening sweet fragrance?
As they swell and murmur round me,
should I breathe them, should I listen?
Should I sip them, plunge beneath them?
Breathe my last amid their sweet smell?
In the billowy surge,
in the gush of sound
In the World’s Spirit’s, Infinite All
To drown now, sinking, unconscious, void of all thought

Highest Desire!