I have posted Friederich Schorr before. However, I think that this recording deserves a posting of its own. This is Act III, scene III of Wagner’s Die Valküre, which is part of Wagner’s four-part Die Ring des Niebelungen. Wagnerian operas generally call for very large voices. This scene is known as Wotan’s Farewell. In this scene, after Brünnhilde, a Valkyrie, has disobeyed Wotan’s wishes, Wotan puts her to sleep on a rock outcrop and asks Loge to surround her with fire. Only a true hero (in the Wagnerian sense of the word) can go through the fire and awaken her. Wotan is the father of all the Valkyries, including Brünnhilde.
In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful scenes in all of opera. The recording that you will hear dates from 1927. Electrical recording began in about 1925 First Electrical recording. You can read about it in the link. It was a new system, and I have no doubt that this recording was remastered one or more times. If the recording were untouched, you would hear much more surface noise. Given that someone (or multiple people) have made changes, the recording is still surprisingly good.
I will admit right off the bat that I am a Wagner addict, and as I wrote earlier, I think that this is one of the most beautiful scenes in music. Notice Schorr’s legato. It is remarkable. We don’t hear this today.
Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind (Wotans Abschied)
Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind!
Du meines Herzens heiligster Stolz!
Leb wohl! Leb wohl! Leb wohl!
Muss ich dich meiden,
und darf nicht minnig
mein Gruß dich mehr grüßen;
sollst du nun nicht mehr neben mir reiten,
noch Met beim Mahl mir reichen;
muss ich verlieren dich, die ich liebe,
du lachende Lust meines Auges:
ein bräutliches Feuer soll dir nun brennen,
wie nie einer Braut es gebrannt!
Flammende Glut umglühe den Fels;
mit zehrenden Schrecken
scheuch’ es den Zagen;
der Feige fliehe Brünnhildes Fels! –
Denn einer nur freie die Braut,
der freier als ich, der Gott!
Der Augen leuchtendes Paar,
das oft ich lächelnd gekost,
wenn Kampfeslust ein Kuss dir lohnte,
wenn kindisch lallend der Helden Lob
von holden Lippen dir floss:
dieser Augen strahlendes Paar,
das oft im Sturm mir geglänzt,
wenn Hoffnungssehnen das Herz mir sengte,
nach Weltenwonne mein Wunsch verlangte
aus wild webendem Bangen:
letz’ es mich heut’
mit des Lebewohles letztem Kuss!
Dem glücklichen Manne
glänze sein Stern:
dem unseligen Ew’gen
muss es scheidend sich schließen.
Denn so kehrt der Gott sich dir ab,
so küsst er die Gottheit von dir!
(Brünnhilde sinkt, gerührt und begeistert, an
Wotans Brust: er hält sie lange umfangen.)
(Sie schlägt das Haupt wieder zurück und blickt,
immer noch ihn umfassend, feierlich ergriffen Wotan in das Auge.)
Loge, hör’! Lausche hieher!
Wie zuerst ich dich fand, als feurige Glut,
wie dann einst du mir schwandest,
als schweifende Lohe;
wie ich dich band, bann ich dich heut’!
Herauf, wabernde Lohe,
umlodre mir feurig den Fels!
Loge! Loge! Hieher!
Wer meines Speeres Spitze fürchtet,
durchschreite das Feuer nie!
Farewell, thou valiant, glorious child!
Thou once the holiest pride of my heart!
Farewell! farewell! farewell!
Must I forsake thee,
and may my welcome
of love no more greet thee;
may’st thou now ne’er more ride as my comrade,
nor bear me mead at banquet;
must I abandon thee, whom I loved so,
thou laughing delight of my eyes?
Such a bridal fire for thee shall be kindled
as ne’er yet has burned for a bride!
Threatening flames shall flare round the fell:
let withering terrors daunt the craven!
let cowards fly from Brünnhilde’s rock!
For one alone winneth the bride;
one freer than I, the god!
Thy brightly glittering eyes,
that, smiling, oft I caressed,
when valor won a kiss as guerdon,
when childish lispings of heroes’ praise
from sweetest lips has flowed forth:
those gleaming radiant eyes
that oft in storms on me shone,
when hopeless yearning my heart had wasted,
when world’s delights all my wishes wakened,
thro’ wild wildering sadness:
once more today, lured by their light,
my lips shall give them love’s farewell!
On mortal more blessed once may they beam:
on me, hapless immortal,
must they close now forever.
(She sinks back with
closed eyes, unconscious, in his arms. He gently bears
her to a low mossy mound, which is overshadowed
by a wide-spreading fir tree, and lays her upon it.)
(He looks upon her and closes her helmet: his eyes
then rest on the form of the sleeper, which he now
completely covers with the great steel shield of the
Valkyrie. He turns slowly away, then again turns
around with a sorrowful look.)
(He strides with solemn decision to the middle of
the stage and directs the point of his spear toward a
Loge, hear! Listen to my word!
As I found thee of old, a glimmering flame,
as from me thou didst vanish,
in wandering fire;
as once I stayed thee, stir I thee now!
Appear! come, waving fire,
and wind thee in flames round the fell!
(During the following he strikes the rock thrice
with his spear.)
Loge! Loge! appear!
(A flash of flame issues from the rock, which swells
to an ever-brightening fiery glow.)
(Flickering flames break forth.)
(Bright shooting flames surround Wotan. With his
spear he directs the sea of fire to encircle the rocks; it
presently spreads toward the background, where it
encloses the mountain in flames.)
He who my spear point’s sharpness feareth
shall cross not the flaming fire!
(He stretches out the spear as a spell. He gazes
sorrowfully back on Brünnhilde. Slowly he turns to
depart. He turns his head again and looks back. He
disappears through the fire.)
(The curtain falls.)
Friedrich Schorr (September 2, 1888 – August 14, 1953), was a renowned Austrian-Hungarian bass-baritone opera singer of Jewish origin. He later became a naturalized American.
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.