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Soprano

Hilde and Anny Konetzni, Sister sopranos

By December 2, 2023No Comments

Today, I am posting two sisters three years apart, who were both successful opera singers. They were both also sopranos. Anny was the elder of the two sisters. Both singers were wonderful singers. Hilde was the better known sister. I would like you to notice the sound production in both women. The air passes through the vocal chords but does not touch them. It flows through to the resonating cavities in the head from where the sound is made. This was standard singing technique up until the 1970s, when it seems that this technique was forgotten.

Anny (sometimes Anni) Konetzni (February 12, 1902 – September 6, 1968) was an Austrian soprano. She was the sister of soprano Hilde Konetzni.

Born in Vienna, Anny Konetzni was a pupil of Erik Schmedes in her hometown, making her debut in Chemnitz as a contralto in 1927. Soon she became a dramatic soprano, singing at the Berlin Staatsoper from 1931 until 1935 and at the Vienna State Opera from 1935 until 1954. She tackled all the heavier parts in the operas of Richard Wagner. Konetzni bowed at the Royal Opera House in 1935 as Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen; she had made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Brünnhilde the previous year. She returned to London every year until World War II, and again in 1951.

Hilde Konetzni was an Austrian operatic soprano, particularly associated with Wagner roles, especially Sieglinde, based largely at the Vienna State Opera.

She studied at the Vienna Music Conservatory with Rudolf Nillius, and in Prague with Ludmilla Prohaska-Neumann. She made her debut in Gablonz, as Sieglinde, in 1929, and sang in Prague from 1932 to 1938. In 1936, she made her debut at the Vienna State Opera and the Paris Opéra, as Donna Elvira. She appeared at the Royal Opera House in London (1938–39), returning in 1947, and at La Scala in Milan, in 1950, as Sieglinde with Furtwängler.

A stylish singer, she possessed a voice of great beauty, other notable roles included; Agathe, Isolde, Brünnhilde, Elisabeth, Marschalin, Leonora, Chrysothemis, etc.

She was very popular in Vienna, and continued singing small roles until the 1970s.

Johannes Brahms. Von ewiger Liebe, Op. 43 No. 1

Dunkel, wie dunkel in Wald und in Feld!
Abend schon ist es, nun schweiget die Welt.

Nirgend noch Licht und nirgend noch Rauch,
Ja, und die Lerche sie schweiget nun auch.

Kommt aus dem Dorfe der Bursche heraus,
Gibt das Geleit der Geliebten nach Haus,

Führt sie am Weidengebüsche vorbei,
Redet so viel und so mancherlei:

“Leidest du Schmach und betrübest du dich,
Leidest du Schmach von andern um mich,

Scheide mit Regen und scheide mit Wind,
Schnell wie wir früher vereiniget sind.”

Spricht das Mägdelein, Mägdelein spricht:
“Unsere Liebe sie trennet sich nicht!

Eisen und Stahl, sie können zergehn,
Unsere Liebe muß ewig bestehn!”

Johannes Brahms, Of EternaL Love, Op. 43 No. 1

Dark, how dark in wood and field!
Evening has already fallen, and now the world is silent.

Nowhere is there light and nowhere is there smoke,
Yes, and even the lark is now silent as well.

Out of the village there comes a young lad,
Taking his sweetheart home,

He leads her past the willow bushes,
Talking so much and about so many things:

“If you suffer disgrace and feel dejected,
If others shame you about me,

It will go with the rain, it will go with the wind,
As quickly as we were united before.”

The maiden speaks, the maiden says:
“Our love will not be separated!

Steel is strong, and iron is very strong;
Our love is even stronger.

Weber, Der Freishütz, “Leise, leise”

AGATHE
Wie nahte mir der Schlummer,
Bevor ich ihn gesehn?
Ja, Liebe pflegt mit Kummer
Stets Hand in Hand zu gehn!
Ob Mond auf seinem Pfad wohl lacht?

Sie öffnet die Altantür, so dass man in eine sternenhelle Nacht sieht

Welch schöne Nacht!

Sie tritt in den Altan und erhebt in frommer Rührung ihre Hände

Leise, leise,
Fromme Weise!
Schwing dich auf zum Sternenkreise.
Lied erschalle!
Feiernd walle
Mein Gebet zur Himmelshalle!

Hinausschauend

O wie hell die goldnen Sterne,
Mit wie reinem Glanz sie glühn!
Nur dort in der Berge Ferne,
Scheint ein Wetter aufzuziehn.
Dort am Wald auch schwebt ein Heer
Dunkler Wolken dumpf und schwer.
Zu dir wende
Ich die Hände,
Herr ohn’ Anfang und ohn’ Ende!
Vor Gefahren
Uns zu wahren
Sende deine Engelscharen! –

Wieder hinausschauend

Alles pflegt schon längst der Ruh’;
Trauter Freund, wo weilest du?
Ob mein Ohr auch eifrig lauscht,
Nur der Tannen Wipfel rauscht;
Nur das Birkenlaub im Hain
Flüstert durch die hehre Stille –
Nur die Nachtigall und Grille
Scheint der Nachtluft sich zu freun. –
Doch wie? Täuscht mich nicht mein Ohr?
Dort klingt’s wie Schritte!
Dort aus der Tannen Mitte
Kommt was hervor!
Er ist’s! er ist’s!
Die Flagge der Liebe mag wehn!

Sie winkt mit einem weissen Tuch

Dein Mädchen wacht
Noch in der Nacht! –
Er scheint mich noch nicht zu sehn!
Gott, täuscht das Licht
Des Monds mich nicht,
So schmückt ein Blumenstrauss den Hut!
Gewiss, er hat den besten Schuss getan!
Das kündet Glück für morgen an!
O süsse Hoffnung! Neu belebter Mut! –
All meine Pulse schlagen,
Und das Herz wallt ungestüm,
Süss entzückt entgegen ihm!
Konnt’ ich das zu hoffen wagen?
Ja, es wandte sich das Glück
Zu dem teuern Freund zurück:
Will sich morgen treu bewähren! –
Ist’s nicht Täuschung? – Ist’s nicht Wahn?
Himmel, nimm des Dankes Zähren
Für dies Pfand der Hoffnung an!
All meine Pulse schlagen,
Und das Herz wallt ungestüm,
Süss entzückt entgegen ihm.

Weber, The Freeshooter, “Softly, softly”

AGATHA
How did sleep come to me
Before I saw him?
Yes love and anxiousness take care
Always to go hand in hand.
Is the moon too laughing on its course?

She opens the balcony door to reveal a star-bright night.

What a beautiful night!

Goes on to the balcony and raises her hands in pure rapture.

Softly, softly,
My pure song!
Waft yourself to the region of stars.
Resound, my song!
Solemnly float
My prayer to the halls of heaven!

looking out

O how bright the golden stars are,
With how pure a gleam they glow!
There only, in the distant mountains
A storm seems to be brewing up.
There too in the forest hovers a clump
Of dark clouds, brooding and heavy.
To you I turn
My hands,
Lord without beginning or end!
From dangers
To guard us
Send your hosts of angels!

Looking out again

All things have long betaken themselves to rest.
Dear friend, where are you tarrying?
Even when my ear listens keenly,
Only the tops of the firtrees rustle.
Only the birchleaves in the grove
Whisper through the wondrous silence.
Only the nightingale and cricket
Seem to enjoy the night air.
And yet? Do my ears deceive me?
That sounds like footsteps!
From the middle of the firs there
Someone is coming!
It is he, it is he!
Let love’s banner flutter!

She waves with a white kerchief.

Your maiden is watching
Even thought it is night!
He does not seem to see me yet!
God, if the moonlight
Does not deceive me,
A bunch of flowers adorns his hat!
For sure he has made the best shot!
That tells of good luck for tomorrow!
O sweet hope, o courage new revived!
All my pulses are beating,
And my heart pants wildly,
Full of sweet enchantment at his approach!
Could I dare to hope it?
Yes, luck has returned
Back to my dear friend,
And will stay faithful tomorrow!
Is it no mistake? Is it no madness?
Heaven, receive these tears of thanks
For this pledge of hope!
All my pulses are beating,
And my heart pants wildly,
Full of sweet enchantment at his approach!
Enchanted at his approach!

Richard Strauss, Cäcilie, Op. 27 No.2

Wenn Du es wüßtest,
Was träumen heißt
Von brennenden Küssen,
Vom Wandern und Ruhen
Mit der Geliebten,
Aug’ in Auge,
Und kosend und plaudernd –
Wenn Du es wüßtest,
Du neigtest Dein Herz!

Wenn Du es wüßtest,
Was bangen heißt
In einsamen Nächten,
Umschauert vom Sturm,
Da Niemand tröstet
Milden Mundes
Die kampfmüde Seele –
Wenn Du es wüßtest,
Du kämest zu mir.

Wenn Du es wüßtest,
Was leben heißt,
Umhaucht von der Gottheit
Weltschaffendem Atem,
Zu schweben empor,
Lichtgetragen,
Zu seligen Höh’en,
Wenn Du es wüßtest,
Du lebtest mit mir.

Richard Strauss, Cäcilie, Po. 27, No.2

If you only knew,
what dreaming means,
Of burning kisses,
of wand’ring and resting with the belov’d one;
Eye to eye
caressing and chatting,
could I but tell you,
your would incline your heart.

If you only knew,
what it is to fear
In lonely nights.
Surrounded by storms
As no one comforts you,
Mild-mannered soul,
Weary of battle,
If you only knew,
you’d come to me.

If you only knew
What living means,
Living is breathed into by the godhead
world-creating breath,
To float up, carried by light,
To blessed mockery,
If you only knew,
You would live with me.

Richard Strauss, “Zueignung”, Op. 10, No.1

Ja, du weißt es, teure Seele,
Daß ich fern von dir mich quäle, Liebe macht die Herzen krank,
Habe Dank.

Einst hielt ich, der Freiheit Zecher,
Hoch den Amethysten-Becher,
Und du segnetest den Trank,
Habe Dank.

Und beschworst darin die Bösen,
Bis ich, was ich nie gewesen,
Heilig, heilig an’s Herz dir sank,
Habe Dank!

Richard Strauss, “Dedication”, Op. 10, No.1

Yes, you know it, dear Soul,
That far from you I torment myself, Love makes the heart sick
Be thanked.

I once thought, the drinker of freedom,
Raised the amethyst cup up high,
And you bless the drink,
Be thanked.

And banished the evil spirits in it,
Until I, what I never had been,
Holy, holy sank on your heart.
Be thanked.

Wagner, Wesendonck Lieder, “Träume”

Sag, welch’ wunderbare Träume
Halten meinen Sinn umfangen
Daß sie nicht wie leere Schäume
Sind in ödes Nichts vergangen?

Träume, die in jeder Stunde
Jedem Tage schöner blühn
Und mit ihrer Himmelskunde
Selig durchs Gemüte ziehn!

Träume, die wie hehre Strahlen
In die Seele sich versenken
Dort ein ewig Bild zu malen:
Allvergessen, Eingedenken!

Träume, wie wenn Frühlingssonne
Aus dem Schnee die Blüten küßt
Daß zu nie geahnter Wonne
Sie der neue Tag begrüßt

Daß sie wachsen, daß sie blühen
Träumend spenden ihren Duft
Sanft an deiner Brust verglühen
Und dann sinken in die Gruft

Wagner, Wesendonck Songs, “Dreams”

Say, what wondrous dreams
Embracing all my senses,
That they have not, like empty lies,
Passed into desolate nothingness?

Dreams, that with every hour
Every day blossom more beautifully,
And with their heavenly knowledge
FLoat blissfully through the mind!

Dreams, that with glorious rays
Penetrate the soul,
There to paint an eternal picture:
Forgetting all, remembering one!

Dreams, as when the Spring sun
On the snow the kisses flowers,
So the new day might greet them
In unimagined bliss,

So that they grow and flower,
Bestow their scent as in a dream,
Fade softly away on your breast
And sink into their grave.

Hilde Konetzni– March 21, 1905 – April 20, 1980
Anny Konentzi-February 12, 1902 – September 6, 1968

Born Hilde Konerczny. Hilde Konetzni debuted at Vienna Staatsoper (1935) and joined the company; after her retirement (1974), she continued to teach.

Hilde Konetzni and her sister Anny were both champion swimmers, which developed their breathing capacity and stamina. Hilde was three years younger than Anny and began her singing lessons at the New Vienna Conservatory. While Anny was engaged at the Chemnitz Opera, Hilde became a student and in 1929 was asked to take on the role of Sieglinde in Die Walküre with three days’ notice, a feat she managed successfully. For three years, from 1933 to 1936, Hilde divided her time between Prague and Vienna before finally settling in Vienna. Bruno Walter took her to Paris where she was cast as Donna Elvira. Anny Konetzni became jealous of her younger sister’s success and tried never to appear in the same opera with her. Hilde’s voice was strong, with great warmth and beauty of tone, but not enormous. She managed her voice carefully; as a result, it lasted throughout her long career, an example of vocal preservation. Hilde Konetzni lost everything in World War II, but recouped her fortunes as she was in great demand after the war. She continued to teach and perform at the Volksoper. Still in good voice, she gave her last performance in 1974.

Anny Konetzni, esteemed Austrian soprano, was the sister of Hilde Konetzni. She studied with Erik Schmedes at the Vienna Conservatory, and later in Berlin with Jacques Stückgold. She made her operatic debut as a contralto at the Vienna Volksoper in 1925; soon turned to soprano roles. She sang in Augsburg, Elberfeld, and Chemnitz; she also sang with the Berlin State Opera (1931–34) and appeared with the Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan, the Paris Opéra, and London’s Covent Garden. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre on Dec. 26, 1934; remained on its roster until the close of the season. After her retirement in 1955, she taught voice in Vienna. She was particularly notable in Wagner and Strauss roles.