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Bass/Baritone

Erich Kunz, Austrian Bass-Baritone

By November 25, 2023No Comments

Kunz was a popular singer in Vienna before the war and in international circles after the war. He was known as an excellent character singer with a very broad repertory.

In terms of vocal characteristics, he had beautiful legato, and he was expressive. His singing is elegant, very resonant, it has both warmth and brilliance.

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Non più andrai

Non più andrai

Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso,
Notte e giorno d’intorno girando;
Delle belle turbando il riposo
Narcisetto, Adoncino d’amor.

Non più avrai questi bei pennacchini,
Quel cappello leggero e galante,
Quella chioma, quell’aria brillante,
Quel vermiglio donnesco color.

Tra guerrieri, poffar Bacco!
Gran mustacchi, stretto sacco.
Schioppo in spalla, sciabla al fianco,
Collo dritto, muso franco,
Un gran casco, o un gran turbante,
Molto onor, poco contante!

Ed invece del fandango,
Una marcia per il fango.
Per montagne, per valloni,
Con le nevi e i sollioni.
Al concerto di tromboni,
Di bombarde, di cannoni,
Che le palle in tutti i tuoni
All’orecchio fan fischiar.
Cherubino alla vittoria:
Alla gloria militar!

You shall not go (fluttering)

No more, you amorous butterfly,
Will you go fluttering round by night and day,
Disturbing every maid,
You little Narcissus, you Adonis of love.

No more will you have those fine feathers,
That light and dashing cap,
Those curls, those airs and graces,
That red, womanish color.

You’ll be among warriors, by Bacchus!
Long moustaches, knapsack tightly on,
Musket on your shoulder, sabre at your side,
Head erect and bold of visage,
A great helmet or a head dress,
Lots of honor, little money,

And instead of the fandango,
Marching through the mud.
Over mountains, through valleys,
In snow and days of listless heat,
To the sound of blunderbusses,
Shells and cannons,
Whose shots make your ears sing
On every note.
Cherubino, on to victory,
On to military glory!

Mozart, Die Zauberflöte, “Der Volgelfänger bin ich, ja”

PAPAGENO
Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja,
Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja,
Stets lustig, heissa, hopsassa!
Ich Vogelfänger bin bekannt
Bei alt und jung im ganzen Land.
Weiß mit dem Locken umzugehn
Und mich aufs Pfeifen zu verstehn.
Drum kann ich froh und lustig sein,
Denn alle Vögel sind ja mein.

Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja,
Stets lustig, heissa, hopsassa!
Ich Vogelfänger bin bekannt
Bei alt und jung im ganzen Land.
Ein Netz für Mädchen möchte ich,
Ich fing’ sie dutzendweis für mich!
Dann sperrte ich sie bei mir ein,
Und alle Mädchen wären mein.

Wenn alle Mädchen wären mein,
So tauschte ich brav Zucker ein:
Die, welche mir am liebsten wär,
Der gäb’ ich gleich den Zucker her.
Und küsste sie mich zärtlich dann,
Wär’ sie mein Weib und ich ihr Mann.
Sie schlief’ an meiner Seite ein,
Ich wiegte wie ein Kind sie ein.

Mozart, The Magic Flute, “I am the bird catcher”

PAPAGENO
I am the bird catcher,
Always bright and merry, tra la!
I the bird catcher am well known
To young and old throughout the land.
I know how to set traps,
And know how to play my pipes.
That’s why I can be happy and merry,
For all these birds belong to me.

I am the birdcatcher,
Always bright and merry, tra la!
I the birdcatcher am well known
To young and old throughout the land.
I’d like a net for catching girls,
I’d catch them by the dozen for me!
Then I’d lock them up in my house,
And all the girls would belong to me.

If all the girls belonged to me,
I’d barter them for sugar,
And give that sugar straightaway
To the one who pleased me most.
And if she were to give me a tender kiss,
She’d be my wife and I her husband.
She’d fall asleep by my side,
I’d cradle her like a child.

Mozart, Die Zauberflöte, Papageno/Papagena Duett

PAPAGENO
Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!
(pfeift)
Weibchen! Täubchen! meine Schöne! –
Vergebens! Ach! sie ist verloren!
ich bin zum Unglück schon geboren! –
Ich plauderte, und das war schlecht,
und drum geschieht es mir schon recht! –
Seit ich gekostet diesen Wein –
seit ich das schöne Weibchen sah,
so brennt’s im Herzenskämmerlein,
so zwicket’s hier, so zwicket’s da!
Papagena! Herzensweibchen!
Papagena liebes Täubchen!
‘S ist umsonst, es ist vergebens,
müde bin ich meines Lebens!

Sterben macht der Lieb’ ein End,
wenn’s im Herzen noch so brennt.
(nimmt einen Strick von seiner Mitte)
Diesen Baum da will ich zieren,
mir an ihm den Hals zuschnüren,
weil das Leben mir mißfällt,
gute Nacht, du falsche Welt! –
Weil du böse an mir handelst,
mir kein schönes Kind zubandelst,
so ist’s aus, so sterbe ich.
Schöne Mädchen, denkt an mich! –
Will sich eine um mich Armen,
eh’ ich hänge, noch erbarmen –
wohl, so laß ich’s diesmal sein!
Rufet nur, Ja oder Nein! –
Keine hört mich! alles stille!
Also ist es euer Wille!
Papageno frisch hinauf,
ende deinen Lebenslauf.
Nun! ich warte noch! es sei –
bis man zählet: eins, zwei, drei!
(pfeift, sieht sich um)
eins! zwei! drei!
Nun wohlan! es bleibt dabei!
Weil mich nichts zurücke hält,
gute Nacht, du falsche Welt!
(will sich hängen)

DIE KNABEN (fahren herunter)
Halt ein! o Papageno, und sei klug!
Man lebt nur einmal, dies sei dir genug!

PAPAGENO
Ihr habt gut reden, gut zu scherzen;
doch brennt es euch, wie mich im Herzen,
ihr würdet auch nach Mädchen geh’n.

DIE KNABEN
So lasse deine Glöckchen klingen,
dies wird dein Weibchen zu dir bringen.

PAPAGENO
Ich Narr vergaß der Zauberdinge!
(nimmt sein Instrument heraus)
Erklinge, Glockenspiel, erklinge,
ich muß mein liebes Mädchen seh’n!
(Die drei Knaben laufen zu ihrem Flugwerk und
bringen das Weib heraus.)
Klinget, Glöckchen, klinget,
schafft mein Mädchen her!
Klinget, Glöckchen, klinget,
bringt mein Mädchen her!
Klinget, Glöckchen, klinget,
bringt mein Weibchen her!
bringt sie her!
mein Mädchen her! mein Weibchen her!

DIE KNABEN
Nun Papageno, sieh dich um!
(fahren auf. Papageno sieht sich um.)

PAPAGENO
Pa-pa-ge-na!

PAPAGENA
Pa-pa-ge-no!

PAPAGENO
Bist du mir nun ganz ergeben? –

PAPAGENO
Pa-pa-ge-na!

PAPAGENA
Pa-pa-ge-no!

PAPAGENO
Bist du mir nun ganz ergeben? –

PAPAGENA
Nun bin ich dir ganz ergeben!

PAPAGENO
Nun so sei mein liebes Weibchen!

PAPAGENA
Nun so sei mein Herzenstäubchen!

BEIDE
Welche Freude wird das sein,
wenn die Götter uns bedenken,
uns’rer Liebe Kinder schenken,
so liebe kleine Kinderlein!

PAPAGENO
Erst einen kleinen Papageno!

PAPAGENA
Dann eine kleine Papagena!

PAPAGENO
Dann wieder einen Papageno!

PAPAGENA
Dann wieder eine Papagena!

PAPAGENO
Papageno!

PAPAGENA
Papagena!

BEIDE
Es ist das höchste der Gefühle,
wenn viele, viele Papagena/Papageno
der Eltern Segen werden sein!
(beide ab. Der Mohr, die Königin mit allen ihren
Damen kommen von beiden Versenkungen; sie
tragen schwarze Fackeln in der Hand.)

Mozart, The Magic Flute, Papageno/Papgena duet

PAPAGENO
Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!
(playing his pipes)
Little wife! my dove! my beauty! –
In vain! Ah, she is lost!
I was born to be unlucky! –
I chattered, and that was naughty,
so I got what I deserved! –
Ever since I tasted that wine –
ever since I saw that pretty girl,
my heart has been burning
and it pinches me here and there!
Papagena! Wife of my bosom!
Papagena, dearest dove!
It is in vain, all useless!
I am weary of life!

Death puts an end to love
when it burns your heart like this.
(takes a rope from around his waist)
I shall ornament this tree
by hanging myself from it
because my life has gone all wrong.
Goodnight, deceiving world! –
You treated me badly
and denied me a pretty mate,
so it is all over, so I shall die.
Pretty maiden, think of me! –
If someone takes pity on me,
poor wretch, before I hang myself –
I will let it go this time!
Speak up: yes, or no! –
No one hears me; all is silent!
So this, then, is your decision!
Papageno, get on with it
and end your weary life.
I’ll wait a little longer –
while I count: one, two, three!
(He pipes, looking around him.)
one! two! three!
Well, that’s it, then!
As no one holds me back,
good night, deceiving world!
(He is about to hang himself.)

THE BOYS (flying down)
Stop, Papageno, and be wise!
You only live once, let that suffice!

PAPAGENO
Well may you counsel, well may you laugh;
but if your hearts were burning like mine,
you too would be looking for girls.

THE BOYS
Then play your bells;
they will bring your mate along.

PAPAGENO
What a fool I am I forgot the magic instrument!
(takes out his instrument)
Resound, magic bells, resound,
I must see my darling girl!
(The boys run to their flying-gondola and bring out
the woman.)
Ring, little bells, ring,
send my sweetheart here to me!
Ring, little bells, ring,
bring my mate here!
Ring, little bells, ring,
bring my little wife here!
Bring her here!
my sweetheart, my little wife!

THE BOYS
Hey! Papageno, look over here!
(They fly up. Papageno looks around.)

PAPAGENO
Pa-pa-ge-na!

PAPAGENA
Pa-pa-ge-no!

PAPAGENO
Do you pledge yourself to me? –

PAPAGENO
Papageno!

PAPAGENA
Papagena!

PAPAGENA
Yes, I pledge myself to you!

PAPAGENO
So, now you’re my little dear wife!

PAPAGENA
So, now you’re my heart’s little dove!

 

BOTH
How happy we will be
if the Gods are gracious
and bless our love with children,
with darling little children!

PAPAGENO
First a little Papageno!

PAPAGENA
Then a little Papagena!

PAPAGENO
Then another Papageno!

PAPAGENA
Then another Papagena!

PAPAGENO
Papageno!

PAPAGENA
Papagena!

BOTH
The greatest joy of all
will be when many Papagenas/Papagenos
bless their parents!
(They leave. The Moor, and the Queen with her
three Ladies enter from the two trap doors. They
carry black torches in their hands.)

Erich Kunz
May 20, 1909 – September 8, 1995

Thoroughly Viennese, bass-baritone Erich Kunz excelled in serious roles (although he sang rather few), comic parts and in operetta characterizations. With a rich, warm voice, he was a definitive Figaro, Leporello, and Papageno in the tradition of Mozart performance that sprang from the Vienna Opera immediately after WWII.

Kunz studied in his native Vienna, primarily with Theodore Lierhammer at the Vienna Academy. His debut took place at Tropau in 1933 as Osmin (a part for deep bass) in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Following that, he sang with a number of smaller German theaters before being engaged by the Breslau Opera for three years. Kunz made his first acquaintance with England when he was offered an opportunity to understudy at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1936. He was soon thereafter assigned several smaller roles.

In 1941, Kunz became a part of the company at the Vienna Staatsoper where he remained throughout his career; he was given the title of Kammersänger in 1948. During the war years, he sang throughout Austria and Germany, primarily in Mozart and Wagner. He made his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 1942 as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and in 1943 became the youngest artist ever to have appeared in a major role at the Bayreuth Festival when he sang Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger.

Once the hostilities ended, Kunz’s career assumed a still more international flavor. Opera performances took him to Florence, Rome, Naples, Paris, Brussels, Budapest, and Buenos Aires. His role at the Salzburg Festival grew and he was a part of the Vienna Staatsoper troupe touring England and France in 1947. The following year brought his debut at the Edinburgh Festival.

A Metropolitan Opera debut waited until 1952, but Kunz’s appearance as Leporello on November 26 brought a warm response from the audience and positive reviews from the critics. Both local and national writers commented upon his handsome voice and subtle comic skills. Many could recall only a few comparable artists in a role frequently immersed in slapstick routine. The Metropolitan Opera enjoyed his presence for just two years. In addition to Leporello, Kunz appeared as Mozart’s Figaro, Beckmesser, and Faninal in Rosenkavalier. Chicago heard his treasurable Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos and Leporello, both in 1964 and, two seasons later, his wily, yet innocent Papageno in Die Zauberflöte.

While musical tastes had moved from the elegant Mozart style of post-war Vienna to an earthier, more robust Italianate approach by the 1960s, Kunz’s inimitable stage persona lost nothing of its potency. Nor did his voice; he continued to sing well even in his sixties and continued to undertake small roles (unforgettable cameos, all) to the end of a long career. In addition to opera house appearances, Kunz graced the stage of the Vienna Volksoper from time to time, giving lessons to both audiences and fellow artists in operetta style and singing.