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Tenor

Rudolf Schock, German Lyric Tenor

By January 8, 2024January 16th, 2024No Comments

I am posting this entry of Schock not because he was the greatest singer of his day, but because he was so popular and ubiquitous. I don’t think that the voice was huge, not like typical heldentenors. Also, heldentenors tended not to sing operetta; their voices were just too big. Schock could sing some of Wagner’s repertory that did not not call for a heldentenor sound, such as Lohengrin. It is interesting to listen to this voice and see why he was so popular in his time.

Rudolf Schock’s voice had a unique, recognizable sound. Schock first burst on the scene after World War II in 1947. He was one of the first Germans to sing at Covent Garden in 1949. He sold over 3 million records and his German films made him almost a superstar of his day.

Wagner, Lohengrin, “In fernem Land”, Act III

In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten,
liegt eine Burg, die Montsalvat genannt;
ein lichter Tempel stehet dort inmitten,
so kostbar, als auf Erden nichts bekannt;
drin ein Gefäß von wundertät’gem Segen
wird dort als höchstes Heiligtum bewacht:
Es ward, daß sein der Menschen reinste pflegen,
herab von einer Engelschar gebracht;
alljährlich naht vom Himmel eine Taube,
um neu zu stärken seine Wunderkraft:
Es heißt der Gral, und selig reinster Glaube
erteilt durch ihn sich seiner Ritterschaft.
Wer nun dem Gral zu dienen ist erkoren,
den rüstet er mit überird’scher Macht;
an dem ist jedes Bösen Trug verloren,
wenn ihn er sieht, weicht dem des Todes Nacht.
Selbst wer von ihm in ferne Land’ entsendet,
zum Streiter für der Tugend Recht ernannt,
dem wird nicht seine heil’ge Kraft entwendet,
bleibt als sein Ritter dort er unerkannt.
So hehrer Art doch ist des Grales Segen,
enthüllt – muß er des Laien Auge fliehn;
des Ritters drum sollt Zweifel ihr nicht hegen,
erkennt ihr ihn – dann muß er von euch ziehn.
Nun hört, wie ich verbotner Frage lohne!
Vom Gral ward ich zu euch daher gesandt:
Mein Vater Parzival trägt seine Krone,
sein Ritter ich – bin Lohengrin genannt.

Wagner, Lohengrin, “In a Distant Land”, Act III

In a distant land, unapproachable to your steps,
lies a castle called Montsalvat;
within it stands a gleaming temple
whose like for splendor is unknown on earth;
therein is kept as the holiest of treasures
a vessel blessed with miraculous powers:
it was brought down by an angelic host
to be tended in purity by men.
Each year a dove descends from heaven
to renew its wondrous strength.
It is called the Grail, and blessed pure faith
is bestowed by it on its votaries.
He who is chosen to serve the Grail
it arms with supernatural might;
against him all evil deceit is vain,
before him even the darkness of death yields.
Even one sent by it into distant lands,
called upon as champion for the cause of virtue,
does not lose its holy power
if he remains there unknown as its knight.
Of so rare a nature is the Grail’s benediction
that it must be veiled from profane eyes:
you must not then harbor doubts of its knight,
and if he is recognized he must leave you.
Now hear how I answer the forbidden question!
I was sent here among you by the Grail:
my father Parzival wears its crown;
his knight am I, and Lohengrin my name.

Verdi, Il Trovatore, Act 3, scene 2, “Di quella pira”

Manrico
Di quella pira l’orrendo foco
Tutte le fibre m’arse avvampò!…
Empi spegnetela, o ch’io tra poco
Col sangue vostro la spegnerò…
Era già figlio prima d’amarti
Non può frenarmi il tuo martir.
Madre infelice, corro a salvarti,
O teco almeno corro a morir!

Verdi, The Troubador, Act 3, scene 2, “of that pyre”

Manrico
The flames of that terrible pyre
inflamed and consumed all my being!…
Pitiless men, put it out, or I will shortly
do it with your own blood…
I was your son before I began to love you,
Your torments won’t stop me.
Unhappy mother, I run to rescue you
or I shall die with you!

Richard Strauss, “Allerseelen”, Op. 10, No.8

Stell auf den Tisch die duftenden Reseden,
Die letzten roten Astern trag herbei,
Und laß uns wieder von der Liebe reden,
Wie einst im Mai.
Gib mir die Hand, daß ich sie heimlich drücke,
Und wenn man’s sieht, mir ist es einerlei,
Gib mir nur einen deiner süßen Blicke,
Wie einst im Mai.
Es blüht und duftet heut auf jedem Grabe,
Ein Tag im Jahr ist ja den Toten frei,
Komm am mein Herz, daß ich dich wieder habe,
Wie einst im Mai.

Richard Strauss. “All Souls Day”, Op. 10, No.8

Set on the table the fragrant mignonettes,
Bring in the last red asters,
And let us talk of love again
As once we did in May.
Give me your hand that I will to squeeze in secret,
And if people see, I do not care,
Give me but one of your sweet glances
As we once did in May.
Flowers and fragrance has each grave today,
One day each year is unfetterd to the dead;
Come to my heart and so be mine again,
As once we did in May.

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.

Rudolf Schock
September 4, 1915 – November 13, 1986

Rudolf Schock was one of the most successful lyric tenors of his generation. He was extremely versatile, and particularly successful in Mozart, Puccini, Strauss and operetta. Though his voice was not huge it was still able to sing some Wagner parts, including Lohengrin, and he appeared at Bayreuth in 1959 as Walther.

His solo career began in 1937 and was interrupted by military service from 1940 to 1945. He was a member of the Hamburg State Opera from 1947 to 1956. He was also a successful performer in films.