Friederich Schorr

Schorr was born in Nagyvarád in Hungary and intended to become a lawyer. His father was a renowned Jewish cantor who had a first-class baritone voice himself. His son Friedrich had a beautiful voice and studied singing at Brno with Adolf Robinson, the teacher of Leo Slezak. Robinson recommended the young bass-baritone to the management of the Chicago Opera and, during his vacation, he had the opportunity to appear in small roles. He made his debut at Graz as Wotan in Walküre.  This was remarkable.  His success was great and Schorr was immediately offered a four-year contract. He remained there until 1916. His fame as a Wagner singer spread rapidly. From 1916 until 1923 he appeared at the opera houses of Prague and Cologne and became a guest star of the Berlin Staatsoper, Covent Garden and Bayreuth. He also sang roles like Amonasro, Escamillo, Barak, Borromeo, Dr. Faust (Busoni), Scarpia, Michele and Pizarro. The main part of his career, however, he spent in the U.S.A. Impresario Gatti-Casazza heard him as Hans Sachs and engaged him in 1923. Friedrich Schorr appeared at the Met until 1943 and made guest appearances all over the world. In March 1943 he gave his farewell performance at the Met in Siegfried. He continued to appear in concerts and became director of the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He also directed productions at the City Centre Opera in New York. He was also a very successful vocal coach.

The poem, a strange and difficult one with a “sting in the tail” – that sudden change of mood that the Germans call “Stimmungsbrechen” – is partly evocative of atmosphere and partly a narrative.  The poem takes place by the seashore, and the woman is a “Fischermädchen”, a holiday romance, rather than someone permanently involved in the poet’s life.  At first, the description of the lovers is static; then it is contrasted by great deal of movement (rising mists, swelling waves,  flying seagulls, falling tears).  In the third verse, the lovers are less fixed to the spot; the poet falls to his knees, and the strange tear drinking episode takes place.  The consequences of this are couched in the most ambiguous terms in the final stanza:  is the poet a victim of some supernatural power, the woman a Lorelei (Siren)? Is his “poisoning” merely a metaphor for being addicted to the beloved and unable to live without her, or does it hint of venereal disease (from which Schubert died)?  The poet’s drinking of the tears is an experience of bathos.

Schubert captures all of this in his music.

Am Meer

Heinrich Heine

Das Meer erglänzte weit hinaus
Im letzten Abendscheine;
Wir saßen am einsamen Fischerhaus,
Wir saßen stumm und alleine.

Der Nebel stieg, das Wasser schwoll,
Die Möwe flog hin und wieder;
Aus deinen Augen liebevoll
Fielen die Tränen nieder.

Ich sah sie fallen auf deine Hand
Und bin aufs Knie gesunken;
Ich hab von deiner weißen Hand
Die Tränen fortgetrunken.

Seit jener Stunde verzehrt sich mein Leib,
Die Seele stirbt vor Sehnen;
Mich hat das unglücksel’ge Weib
Vergiftet mit ihren Tränen.

By the Sea

 

The sea sparkled far and wide
In the last glow of evening;
We sat at the lonely fisherman’s hut,
We sat silent and alone.

The mist rose, the water surged.
The gull flew to and fro;
From your loving eyes
The tears fell.

I saw them fall upon your hand
I sank upon my knee;
From your white hand
I drank away the tears.

Since that time my body pines
My soul is dies of longing;
The wretched woman
Poisoned me with her tears.

Quintet from Der Meistersinger

The quintet ‘Selig wie die Sonne’ from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Hans Sachs – Friedrich Schorr, Eva – Elisabeth Schumann, Walther – Lauritz Melchior, Magdelena – Gladys Parr, David – Ben Williams, London Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Barbirolli, 1931.

Some say that this is the most beautiful recording of this extraordinary quintet that they have ever heard.

EVA
Selig, wie die Sonne
meines Glückes lacht,
Morgen voller Wonne,
selig mir erwacht!
Traum der höchsten Hulden,
himmlich Morgenglüh’n:
Deutung euch zu schulden,
selig süss Bemüh’n!

Einer Weise mild und hehr,
sollt’ es hold gelingen,
meines Herzens süss Beschwer
deutend zu bezwingen.
Ob es nur ein Morgentraum?
Selig deut’ ich mir es kaum.
Doch die Weise,
was sie leise
mir vertraut,
hell und laut,
in der Meister vollem Kreis’,
deute sie auf den höchsten Preis.

MAGDALENE
Wach’ oder träum’ ich schon so früh’?
Das zu erklären macht mir Müh’:
‘s ist wohl nur ein Morgentraum?
Was ich seh’, begreif’ ich kaum!
Er zur Stelle
gleich Geselle?
Ich die Braut?
Im Kirchenraum wir
gar getraut?
Ja! Wahrhaftig, ‘s geht! Wer weiss,
dass ich Meist’rin bald heiss’!

WALTHER
Deine Liebe liess mir es gelingen,
meines Herzens süss Beschwer’
deutend zu bezwingen.
Ob es noch der Morgentraum?
Selig deut’ ich mir es kaum!
Doch die Weise,
was sie leise
dir vertraut
im stillen Raum,
hell und laut,
in der Meister vollem Kreis’,
werbe sie um den höchsten Preis.

DAVID
Wach’ oder träum’ ich schon so früh?
Das zu erklären macht mir Müh’:
‘s ist wohl nur ein Morgentraum!
Was ich seh’, begreif’ ich kaum.
Ward zur Stelle
gleich Geselle?
Lene Braut?
Im Kirchenraum wir
gar getraut?
‘s geht der Kopf mir wie im Kreis,
dass ich Meister bald heiss’!

SACHS
Vor dem Kinde, lieblich hold,
mocht’ ich gern wohl singen;
doch des Herzens süss’ Beschwer’
galt es zu bezwingen.
‘s war ein schöner Abendtraum;
d’ran zu denken wag’ ich kaum.
Diese Weise,
was sie leise
mir anvertraut,
im stillen Raum,
sagt mir laut:
auch der Jugend ew’ges Reis
grünt nur durch des Dichters Preis.
(zu den Übrigen sich wendend)
jetzt all’ am Fleck’!
(zu Eva)
Den Vater grüss’!
Auf, nach der Wies’, schnell auf die Füss’!
(Eva und Magdalene gehen)
(zu Walther)
Nun, Junker, kommt! Habt frohen Mut!
David, Gesell’! Schliess’ den Laden gut!

(Als Sachs und Walther ebenfalls auf die Strasse gehen und David über das Schliessen der Ladentür sich hermacht, wird im Proszenium ein Vorhang von beiden Seiten zusammengezogen, so dass er die Szene gänzlich verschliesst)

EVA
As blissfully as the sun
of my happiness laughs,
a morning full of joy
blessedly awakens for me;
dream of highest favours,
heavenly morning glow:
interpretation to owe you,
blessedly sweet task!

A melody, tender and noble,
ought to succeed propitiously
in interpreting and subduing
my heart’s sweet burden.
Is it only a morning dream?
In my bliss, I can scarcely interpret it myself.
But the melody,
what it softly confides
to me,
clear and loud
in the full circle of the Masters
may its revelation point to the highest prize.

MAGDALENA
Do I wake or dream so early?
To explain it gives me trouble:
is it only a morning dream?
What I see I scarcely grasp!
Him here
a journeyman all of a sudden?
I the bride?
In the church
we shall even be married?
Yes, in truth, it is so! Who knows,
but that I may soon be a Master’s wife!

WALTHER
Your love made me succeed
in interpreting and subduing
my heart’s sweet burden.
Is it still the morning-dream?
In my bliss, I can scarcely interpret it myself.
But the melody,
what it softly
confides to you
in the silent room,
bright and loud
in the full circle of the Masters
may it compete for the highest prize!

DAVID
Do I wake or dream so early?
To explain it gives me trouble:
is it only a morning-dream?
What I see I scarcely grasp!
I became here
a journeyman all of a sudden?
Lena betrothed?
In the church
we shall even be married?
My mind is in a whirl
that I shall soon be a Master!

SACHS
Before the child, so charming and fair,
I would fain sing out:
but the heart’s sweet burden
had to be subdued.
It was a beautiful morning-dream;
I scarcely dare think of it.
This melody,
what it softly
confides to me
in the silent room,
says to me aloud:
even youth’s eternal twig
grows green only through the poet’s praise.

(to the others)
Now all to your places!
(to Eva)
My greetings to your father.
Away, off to the meadow, best feet forward!
(Eva and Magdalena leave)
(To Walther)
Now, Sir knight! Come! Be of good cheer!
David, journeyman! Shut the shop carefully!

(Sachs and Walther also go into the street; David is left shutting up the shop)