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Anton Dermota, Slovenian tenor

By November 9, 2023No Comments

Dermota was a great artist who sang as many as 80 roles. He was an extraordinary Lieder singer. In the example that I have selected below, you can hear him imbue every phrase with meaning. He was truly an outstanding musician.

Mozart, Don Giovanni, “Il mio tesoro”

Il mio tesoro intanto
Andate a consolar,
E del bel ciglio il pianto
Cercate di asciugar.
Ditele che i suoi torti
A vendicar io vado;
Che sol di stragi e morti
Nunzio vogl’io tornar.

Mozart, Don Giovanni, “My darling”

My darling, in the meantime,
Go and console her sad heart.
And try to dry her lovely tears,
Tell her, to see her righted,
I will avenge her,
That only of killing and death
As announcer will I return.

This clip is from a film of a Salzburg production conducted by Furtwängler in 1954, shortly before his death.

Hilde Zadek is the soprano.

Korngold, Die Tote Stadt, Auet, act I

Glück, das mir verblieb,
rück zu mir, mein treues Lieb.
Abend sinkt im Ha(a)g—
bist mir Licht und Tag.
Bange pochet Herz an Herz—
Hoffnung schwingt sich himmelwärts.

Wie wahr, ein traurig Lied.
Das Lied vom treuen Lieb,
das sterben muss.

Ich kenne das Lied.
Ich hört es oft in jungen,
in schöneren Tagen….
Es hat noch eine Strophe—
weiß ich sie noch?

Naht auch Sorge trüb,
rück zu mir, mein treues Lieb.
Neig dein blass Gesicht—
Sterben trennt uns nicht.
Mußt du einmal von mir gehn,
glaub, es gibt ein Auferstehn.

Korngold, The Dead City, duet act 1

Happiness that has stayed with me,
move up close beside me, my true love.
In the grove, evening is waning,
yet you are my light and day.
Fear throbs heart on heart,
hope soars heavenward.

How true, a mournful song.
The song of the true love
that must die.

I know the song.
I often heard it sung
in happier days of yore.
There is yet another stanza –
have I still got it in mind?

Though dismal sorrow is drawing nigh,
move up close beside me, my true love.
Turn your wan face to me
death will not part us.
When the hour of death comes one day,
believe that there is an afterlife.

Richard Strauss, Ständchen

Mach auf, mach auf! doch leise, mein Kind,
Um Keinen vom Schlummer zu wecken!
Kaum murmelt der Bach, kaum zittert im Wind
Ein Blatt an den Büschen und Hecken;
Drum leise, mein Mädchen, daß nichts sich regt,
Nur leise die Hand auf die Klinke gelegt!

Mit Tritten, wie Tritte der Elfen so sacht,
Um über die Blumen zu hüpfen,
Flieg leicht hinaus in die Mondscheinnacht,
Zu mir in den Garten zu schlüpfen!
Rings schlummern die Blüten am rieselnden Bach
Und duften im Schlaf, nur die Liebe ist wach.

Sitz nieder! Hier dämmert’s geheimnisvoll
Unter den Lindenbäumen.
Die Nachtigall uns zu Häupten soll
Von unseren Küssen träumen
Und die Rose, wenn sie am Morgen erwacht,
Hoch glühn von den Wonneschauern der Nacht.

Richard Strauss, Serenade

Arise! but gently, my child,
So as to awake no one from sleep!
The brook scarcely murmurs, the wind barely vibrates
A leaf in the bushes and hedges;
So quietly, my girl, that nothing moves,
Just put your hand quietly on the latch!

With steps as soft an elf’s,
To leap over the flowers,
Fly lightly out into the moonlight,
To glide to me in the garden!
The blossoms around the trickling brook
Scented in sleep, now only love is awake.

Sit! Here dawn comes mysteriously
Under the linden trees.
The nightingale above us should
dream of our kisses
And the rose, should it wake in the morning,
Will glow on high from having seen the bliss of the night.

Schubert, Der Lindenbaum

Am Brunnen vor dem Tore,
Da steht ein Lindenbaum;
Ich träumt’ in seinem Schatten
So manchen süssen Traum.

Ich schnitt in seine Rinde
So manches liebe Wort;
Es zog in Freud’ und Leide
Zu ihm mich immer fort.

Ich musst’ auch heute wandern
Vorbei in tiefer Nacht,
Da hab’ ich noch im Dunkel
Die Augen zugemacht.

Und seine Zweige rauschten,
Als riefen sie mir zu:
Komm her zu mir, Geselle,
Hier findst du deine Ruh’!

Die kalten Winde bliesen
Mir grad’ in’s Angesicht,
Der Hut flog mir vom Kopfe,
Ich wendete mich nicht.

Nun bin ich manche Stunde
Enfernt von jenem Ort,
Und immer hör’ ich’s rauschen:
Du fändest Ruhe dort!

Schubert, The Linden Tree

By the well, before the gates,
stands a linden tree;
in its shade I dreamt
many a sweet dream.

I carved into its bark
So many words of love;
It drew me in joy and sorrow
Away to it .

Today, too, I had to walk
past it in deepest night;
even in the darkness
I closed my eyes.

And its branches rustled
as if they were calling to me:
‘Come to me, companion,
here you will find rest.’

The cold wind blew
straight into my face,
my hat flew from my head;
I did not turn back.

Now I am many hours’ journey
from that place;
yet I still hear the rustling:
‘There you would find rest.’

Anton Dermota
June 4, 1910 – Kropa, Slovenia – June 22, 1989 – Vienna, Austria

Dermota was born in Kropa (Slovenia), and he grew up in poverty. Initially studying composition and organ at the Ljubljana conservatory, he received a scholarship in 1934 which took him to Vienna, where he devoted himself exclusively to vocal studies with the famous coach Marie Radó.

Dermota made his early debut at the opera of Cluj (Klausenburg) in 1934. It was Bruno Walter who immediately invited him to the Vienna State Opera where he made his debut in 1936 as first Man in Armour Mozart’s The Magic Flute. His first major role was Alfredo in La Traviata in 1937. He remained a loyal member of the Wiener Staatsoper for more than 40 years and became one of the most popular and celebrated singers of the Viennese public. He also sang at the Salzburg Festival where he appeared regularly for 20 years. He was engaged at the operas of London, Paris, Rome, Naples, Teatro Colón and toured Australia, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Dermota was an accomplished lieder singer and gave hundreds of song recitals accompanied by his wife, the pianist Hilde Berger-Weyerwald. In 1966 he became a sought-after singing coach at the Wiener Musikhochschule. In honor of Kammersänger (an honor awarded by the government) Dermota’s 70th birthday, the management of the Vienna State Opera invited him to appear as Tamino (which he sang with an unimpaired voice ). He died after his 79th birthday in 1989.