Rita Streich, Light Lyric Coloratura Soprano

The noted German soprano, Rita Streich, was born in Russia and moved to Germany with her parents during her childhood, where she grew up bilingual, something that was extremely helpful during her later career. She studied with Erna Berger, Maria Ivogün, and Willy Domgraf-Fassbänder.  Streich was one of the most significant coloratura sopranos of the post-war period. Her debut as an opera singer was in 1943, during World War II, at the Stadttheater (city theatre) of Ústí nad Labem (Aussig) in Bohemia (today, the Czech Republic), in the role of Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss’ opera Ariadne auf Naxos.

So, why am I waxing on about Rita Streich? Her coloratura was exquisite, and her Lieder singing was absolutely beautiful. She was capable of larger roles, such as Sohpie (Der Rosenkavalier). But the main thing that I like about her was that she always sang in the resonance. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear the sound coming out of the top of her head. Her placement was beautiful.

I am putting this excerpt in because Rita Streich sings it beautifully, but her French is problematic (vowels, nasalization, elison, etc.). Afterwards, I will put on Ninon Vallin, who is French and who also sings this lullaby beautifully.

Berceuse de Jocelyn

Cachés dans cet asile où Dieu nous a conduits,
Unis par le malheur, durant les longues nuits
Nous reposons tous deux endormis sous les voiles
Ou prions aux regards de tremblantes étoiles.

Oh ne t’éveille pas encore
Pour qu’un bel ange de ton rêve
En déroulant son long fil d’or,
Enfant, permette qu’il s’achève.
Dors, dors, le jour à peine a lui.
Vierge Sainte, veillez sur lui.

Sous l’aile du Seigneur loin du bruit de la foule
Et comme un flot sacré qui doucement s’écoule
Nous avons vu les jours passer après les jours
Sans jamais nous lasser d’implorer son secours

Lullaby from Jocelyn

Concealed in this refuge to which God has led us,
united by misfortune, during the long nights
We all rest, asleep under veils,
or else pray beneath the gaze of trembling stars.

Oh do not wake up yet,
so that a beautiful angel in your dream
can wind out his long thread of gold,
oh child, and allow your dream to finish.
Sleep, sleep on, the day has barely dawned.
Holy Virgin Mary, watch over him.

Under the Lord’s wing, far from the noise of the crowd
like a sacred stream gently flowing,
we have seen days follow days,
and have tirelessly implored the Lord to help us.

Hymn to the Moon

Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém,
Světlo tvé daleko vidím.
Po světe bloudíš širokém,
Díváš se v příbytky lidí.
Měsíčku, postůj chvíli,
řekni mi, řekni
kde je můj milý.
Rekni mu, stříbrný měsíčku,
Mé že jej objímá rámě,
Aby si alespoň chviličku
Vzpomenul ve snění na mne,
Zasviť mu do daleka,
Rekni mu, řekni m kdo tu nan ceka!
O mneli duse lidska sni,
Rt’se tou vzpominkou vzbudi!
Měsíčku, nezhasni, nezhasni!

Hymn to the Moon

Moon, high and deep in the sky
Your light sees far,
You travel around the wide world,
And see into people’s homes.
Moon, stand still for a moment,
Tell me, tell
Where is my beloved.
Tell him, silvery moon,
that I am embracing him,
for at least a little while,
Let him remember dreaming of me,
Illuminate him far away
Tell him, ah tell him who is here waiting!
If he is dreaming about me,
May this remembrance waken him!
O, Moon, don’t disappear, don’t disappear!

Cf Renée Fleming. Which one has better placement?

Trennung (This is in the Swabian dialect; also called “Da untem im Tale”)

Da unten im Tale
Läuft’s Wasser so trüb,
Und i kann dir’s net sagen,
I hab’ di so lieb.

Sprichst allweil von Liebe,
Sprichst allweil von Treu’,
Und a bissele Falschheit
Is auch wohl dabei.

Und wenn i dir’s zehnmal sag,
Daß i di lieb und mag,
Und du willst nit verstehn,
Muß i halt weitergehn.

Für die Zeit, wo du gliebt mi hast,
Da dank i dir schön,
Und i wünsch, daß dir’s anderswo
Besser mag gehn.

Separation (also called “Down in the Valley”)

Down in the valley there
the water flows so sadly,
and I can’t tell you
that I love you so.

You always speak of love,
you always speak of fidelity,
but a bit of falsehood
is always there too.

And if I tell you ten times,
that I love and like you,
and you do not want to understand,
then I will have to move on.

For the time that you have loved me,
I thank you kindly,
and I wish that somewhere else
things may go better for you.

Zeffiretti lusinghieri, Ilia’s aria from Idomeneo

Zeffiretti lusinghieri,
Deh volate al mio tesoro:
E gli dite, ch’io l’adoro
Che mi serbi il cor fedel.

E voi piante, e fior sinceri
Che ora innaffia il pianto amaro,
Dite a lui, che amor più raro
Mai vedeste sotto al ciel.

Zeffiretti lusinghieri, Ilia’s aria from Idomeneo

Zephyrs gently caressing
Oh fly to my beloved
And tell him that I adore him
and keep his heart faithful.

And you plants, and flowers tender
which my bitter tears water
tell him that a love more rare
never saw beneath the sky.

Born: December 18, 1920 – Barnaul, Altai Krai, Russia
Died: March 20, 1987 – Vienna, Austria

The noted German soprano, Rita Streich, was born in Russia and moved to Germany with her parents during her childhood, where she grew up bilingual, something that was extremely helpful during her later career. She studied with Erna Berger, Maria Ivogün, and Willy Domgraf-Fassbänder.

Rita Streich was one of the most significant coloratura sopranos of the post-war period. Her debut as an opera singer was in 1943, during World War II, at the Stadttheater (city theatre) of Ústí nad Labem (Aussig) in Bohemia (today, the Czech Republic), in the role of Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss’ opera Ariadne auf Naxos. Three years later, in 1946, she secured her first engagement at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (State Opera) in Berlin, where she stayed until 1952. In 1951 she joined the Berlin Städtische Oper. In 1952 she moved to Bayreuth, in 1953 to Vienna, and in 1954 to Salzburg. Appearances at La Scala in Milan, at Covent Garden and in Glyndebourne followed. She made her USA debut as Zerbinetta with the San Francisco Opera in 1957.

From 1974 Rita Streich taught at the Folkwang-Hochschule in Essen and the Music Academy in Vienna. She gave master-classes during the Salzburg Festival from 1983.

Streich was a leading interpreter of parts in Mozart operas. Her repertoire included arias from Idomeneo, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Zauberflöte, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and others. Since she had grown up bilingual, she could also sing the works of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in their original Russian without a trace of an accent.

Streich retired from the stage in 1972 to teach at Essen, but returned four years later to Vienna, where she continued to teach, and where she died at the age of sixty-six. In the 1950s, and for some years after, she was considered the foremost German coloratura of her generation, often likened to her teacher Erna Berger.