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Lyric Soprano

Hilde Güden, Austrian Soprano

By February 5, 2023March 19th, 2023No Comments

The post-war period saw some of the greatest singers of the 20th century. Among these singers (Lisa Della Casa, Sena Jurinac, Irmgard Seefried, etc.) was Güden. In her, you will hear the traits of the other sopranos mentioned: beautiful placement, breath control, varied colorings of the voice, and just plain beautiful singing.

In this first aria, we are very fortunate to have a visual recording of Hilde Güden’s signing. Notice especially how high she pulls her cheeks. She is not really using her lips to create words. The action happens higher in her face. This is part of a signing technique that has been lost. By using the cheeks, and keeping them elevated, the air flow doesn’t get stuck in the throat. Also, please notice that the repetition of Dov’e Sono is sung on one breath of air.

E Susanna non vien! Sono ansiosa
di saper come il Conte
accolse la proposta. Alquanto ardito
il progetto mi par, e ad uno sposo
sì vivace, e geloso!
Ma che mal c’è? Cangiando i miei vestiti
con quelli di Susanna, e i suoi co’ miei…
al favor della notte… oh cielo, a quale
umil stato fatale io son ridotta
da un consorte crudel, che dopo avermi
con un misto inaudito
d’infedeltà, di gelosia, di sdegni,
prima amata, indi offesa, e alfin tradita,
fammi or cercar da una mia serva aita!

Dove sono i bei momenti
di dolcezza e di piacer,
dove andaro i giuramenti
di quel labbro menzogner?
Perché mai se in pianti e in pene
per me tutto si cangiò,
la memoria di quel bene
dal mio sen non trapassò?
Ah! Se almen la mia costanza
nel languire amando ognor,
mi portasse una speranza
di cangiar l’ingrato cor.

And Susanna’s is not coming! I’m impatient
To know what the Count said
To her proposal; the plan seems to me
Somewhat rash, and with a husband
So impetuous and jealous …
But where’s the harm?
To change my clothes
With those of Susanna, and hers with mine,
Under cover of darkness … Oh heavens!
To what humiliation am I reduced
By a cruel husband, who after having
First loved me, then neglected and finally
Deceived me, in a strange mixture
Of infidelity, jealousy and disdain,
Now forces me to seek help from my servant!

Where are those happy moments
Of sweetness and pleasure?
Where have they gone,
Those vows of a deceiving tongue?
Then why, if everything for me
Is changed to tears and grief,
Has the memory oft hat happiness
Not faded from my breast?
Ah! if only my constancy
In yearning lovingly for him always
Could bring the hope
Of changing his ungrateful heart!


Du wirst nicht weinen. Leise, leise
wirst du lächeln und wie zur Reise
geb’ ich dir Blick und Kuß zurück.
Unsre lieben vier Wände, du hast sie bereitet,
ich habe sie dir zur Welt geweitet;
O Glück!

Dann wirst du heiß meine Hände fassen
und wirst mir deine Seele lassen,
läßt unsern Kindern mich zurück.
Du schenktest mir dein ganzes Leben,
ich will es ihnen wieder geben;
O Glück!

Es wird sehr bald sein, wir wissen’s beide,
wir haben einander befreit vom Leide,
so gab’ ich dich der Welt zurück!
Dann wirst du mir nur noch im Traum erscheinen
und mich segnen und mit mir weinen;
O Glück!


You will not weep. Gently, gently
you will smile; and as before a journey
I shall give your gaze and kiss back to you.
Our beloved four walls, you have prepared them
I have widened them for you to the world –
O happiness!

Then ardently you will seize my hands
and you will leave me your soul,
leave me to care for our children.
You gave your whole life to me,
I shall give it back to them –
O happiness!

It will be very soon, we both know it,
we have released each other from suffering,
so I returned you to the world.
Then you’ll appear to me only in dreams,
and you will bless me and weep with me –
O happiness!

Der Rosenkavalier, Presentation of the Rose

(etwas stockend)
Mir ist die Ehre wiederfahren
daß ich der hoch- und wohlgeborenen Jungfer Braut,
in meines Herrn meines Vetters Namen,
dessen zu Lerchernau Namen
die Rose seiner Liebe überreichen darf.

nimmt die Rose
Ich bin Euer Liebden sehr verbunden.

– Ich bin Euer Liebden in aller Ewigkeit verbunden. –
(eine Pause der Verwirrung)

(indem sie an der Rose riecht)
Hat einen starken Geruch. Wie Rosen, wie lebendige.

Ja, ist ein Tropfen persischen Rosenöls darein getan.

Wie himmlische, nicht irdische, wie Rosen vom hochheiligen Paradies. Ist Ihm nicht auch?

(neigt sich über die Rose, die sie ihm hinhält; dann richtet er sich auf und sieht auf ihren Mund)

Ist wie ein Gruss vom Himmel. Ist bereits zu stark,
als dass mans ertragen kann. Zieht einen nach, als lägen Stricke um das Herz.
Wo war ich schon einmal und war so selig?

Wo war ich schon einmal und war so selig?

Dahin muss ich zurück! und müsst’ ich völlig sterben auf dem Weg!

Allein ich sterb’ ja nicht. Das ist ja weit. Ist Zeit und Ewigkeit in einem
sel’gen Augenblick, den will ich nie vergessen bis an meinen Tod.

Ich war ein Bub’, da hab’ ich die noch nicht gekannt.
Wer bin denn ich? Wie komm’ denn ich zu ihr?
Wie kommt denn sie zu mir? Wär’ ich kein Mann,
die Sinne möchten mir vergehn. Das ist ein seliger Augenblick,
den will ich nie vergessen bis an meinen Tod.

(faltering a little)
To me has fallen the honor
of presenting to the highborn bride,
in the name of my cousin
of Lerchernau,
the rose of his love.

(takes the rose)
I am most obliged to your Lordship

-I am eternally obliged to your Lordship-
(a confused pause)

(smelling the rose)
It has a strong scent of roses: real ones!

Yes, there’s a drop of Persian attar of roses in it.

Like roses of heaven, not of earth – like roses of holy paradies, don’t you think so?

(Octavian bends over the Rose, which she holds out to him; then he straightens and gazes at her lips.)

It’s like a greeting from heaven. ‘Tis already too strong to bear.

It draws one as though there were reins around one’s heart

Where and when have I been so happy?

Where and when have I been so happy?

I must return there, yes, even if I should die on the way!
But I shall not die. That is far away. There’s time and eternity
In this moment of bliss, and I’ll not forget it til I die.

I was boy, and did not know her yet.
Who am I then? How is it that I come to her?
How is it that she comes to me?
Were I not a man, then I should lose my senses.
And I’ll not forget it til I die.

Hilde Güden
September 15, 1917 – September 17, 1988

The Austrian soprano Hilde Gueden, or Güden was one of the most appreciated Straussian and Mozartian sopranos of her day. Her youthful and lively interpretations made her an ideal interpreter of roles like Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. She was born Hulda Geiringer in Vienna, and studied singing with Otto Iro, piano with Maria Wetzelsberger, and dancing at the Vienna Music Academy. She debuted, as Hulda Gerin, in 1937 in Benatzky’s operetta Herzen im Schnee at the Vienna Volksoper. Her operatic debut came in 1939, when she sang Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro at the Zurich Opera. In 1941, the famous conductor Clemens Krauss engaged her for the Munich State Opera, where she sang with much success. From this time she used Hilde Gueden as her stage name. However, she had some Jewish ancestry, and this forced her to leave Germany under the Nazis. Rumour has it that she was almost arrested by the Gestapo in Munich, but she had by then obtained a fake passport showing that she was a Roman Catholic Polish woman and could avoid the arrest. In Italy, Tullio Serafin invited her to sing Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) in Rome and Florence. From then on, she gained great successes in Paris, Milan, London, Venice, Glyndebourne, and other major cities. She made her debut at Salzburg Festival in 1946 by singing Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 1946. In 1947, she started a long membership with the Vienna Staatsoper, where she was still of the greatest stars up to 1973. In December 1951, she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Gilda in Rigoletto. In 1953, she sang Ann Trulove in the first U.S. performance of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Metropolitan Opera. From late 1950s, she moved from light parts to lyric parts in the same operas; from Susanna to Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), from Zerlina to Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), from Despina to Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), from Nannetta to Alice Ford (Falstaff), and from Musetta to Mimi (La bohème). She was also praised for her performances of Violetta in La traviata, Marguerite in Faust, and Micaela in Carmen. She was a most versatile and accomplished singer. Besides her usual Mozart and Richard Strauss, she was also an ideal Operetta singer. Her Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus is considered one of her best roles. In the bel canto repertoire, she became a famous Gilda in Rigoletto and Adina in L’elisir d’amore. She was also noted for her Lieder and oratorio work.