Skip to main content
Bass/Baritone

Heinz Rehfus, German, Swiss, American bass-baritone

By February 10, 2024No Comments

I came upon this singer while perusing YouTube. I had never heard of him before.  Once I heard him, I realized that he was a great artist whose career was probably interrupted by the war. What struck me was the freedom in the voice as well as a beautiful legato. There is an enormous attention to the words, attention that we don’t necessarily hear today. nThere is not much information on him on the internet, but I have given you what I have found nbelow. See if you like him!

Offenbach, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, “Scintille, diamant”

Dapertutto (seul)
Allez! Pour te livrer combat
les yeux de Giulietta sont une arme certaine!
Il a fallu que Schlémil succombât…
Foi de diable et de capitaine!
Tu feras comme lui!
Je veux que Giulietta t’ensorcelle aujourd’hui!

Scintille, diamant,
Miroir où se prend l’alouette,
Scintille, diamant, ascine, attire-la.
L’alouette ou la femme a cet àppas vainquer
Vont de l’aile ou du coeur
L’une y laisse la vie
Et l’autre y perd son âme
Beau diamant, scintille, attire-la.

Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffmann, “Sparkle, diamond”

Dapertutto (alone)
Go! To fight you off
Giulietta’s eyes are a sure weapon!
It was necessary that Schlémil succumb . . .
Faith of devil and of captain!
You will do like him!
I want Giulietta to bewitch you today!

Sparkle, diamond,
Miror where the lark is caught,
Sparkle, diamond, fascinate, draw her in
The lark or the woman to this conquering bait
Will fly by wing or by heart
One leaves her life there
And the other loses her soul there.
Beautiful diamond, sparkle, draw her in.

Brahms, “Feldeinsamkeit”, op. 86, no.2

Ich ruhe still im hohen grünen Gras
Und sende lange meinen Blick nach oben,
Von Grillen rings umschwirrt ohn Unterlaß,
Von Himmelsbläue wundersam umwoben.

Die schönen weißen Wolken ziehn dahin
Durchs tiefe Blau, wie schöne stille Träume;
Mir ist, als ob ich längst gestorben bin
Und ziehe selig mit durch ew’ge Räume.

Brahms, “Loneliness in the fields”, op. 86, no.2

I lie silently in the tall green grass
and look upwards for a long time,
surrounded by crickets whirring unceasingly,
by the blue of heaven wondrously enfolded.

The beautiful white clouds pull themselves along
through the deep blue, like beautiful silent dreams;
to me, it is as if I have long been dead
and I am pulled blissfully along through eternal space.

Schubert, “Der Lindenbaum”, op.89, D911, no.5

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’ ins Angesicht,
Der Hut flog mir vom Kopfe,
Ich wendete mich nicht.

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

Schubert, “The Linden Tree (from the Winterreise song cycle)

The Linden Tree

At the well outside the gate
There stands a linden tree;
I dreamed in its shade
So many sweet dreams.

I cut into its bark
So many words of love;
In happiness and sadness it drew
Me back to it constantly

Today also I had to wander
Past it in the depths of night,
Even in the dark
I had to close my eyes.

And its branches rustled
As if they were calling out to me:
Come here to me, my companion,
Here you will find your peace.

The cold winds blew
Straight in my face;
My hat flew from my head,
I did not turn around.

Now I am many hours
Away from that place,
And I ever hear that rustling:
It says, you would find peace there.

Fischerweise
Den Fischer fechten Sorgen
Und Gram und Leid nicht an,
Er löst am frühen Morgen
Mit leichtem Sinn den Kahn.

Da lagert rings noch Friede
Auf Wald und Flur und Bach,
Er ruft mit seinem Liede
Die goldne Sonne wach.

Und singt zu seinem Werke
Aus voller frischer Brust,
Die Arbeit gibt ihm Stärke,
Die Stärke Lebenslust.

Bald wird ein bunt Gewimmel
In allen Tiefen laut
Und plätschert durch den Himmel,
Der sich im Wasser baut.

Und schlüpft auf glatten Steinen
Und badet sich und schnellt,
Der Große frißt den Kleinen
Wie auf der ganzen Welt.

Doch wer ein Netz will stellen
Braucht Augen klar und gut,
Muss heiter gleich den Wellen
Und frei sein wie die Flut;

Dort angelt auf der Brücke
Die Hirtin – schlauer Wicht,
Gib auf nur deine Tücke,
Den Fisch betrügst du nicht.

Fisherman’s tune
The fisherman isn’t disturbed by cares
Or worry or pain;
He sets off early in the morning
Carefree as he releases the boat.

All around him there is still peace
In the woods, fields and river,
He calls out in song
And the golden sun wakes up.

And he sings as he works
From a full, fresh heart.
The work gives him strength
And this strength gives him joy in life.

Soon a bright crowd will be
Heard clearly in the depths
And they splash through the sky
Reflected in the water –

And they slip on smooth stones
And they bathe and shoot about,
The big ones eat up the little ones
As happens everywhere in the world.

But anyone who wants to set a net
Needs good clear eyes;
They have to be as jolly as the waves
And as free as the tide.

Angling there on the bridge is
The shepherdess, cunning little thing,
Give up your trickery.
This is a fish you are not going to trick!

Trans. Malcolm Wren, schubertsong.uk

Schumann, Widmung, Op. 25, no.1

Du meine Seele, du mein Herz,
Du meine Wonn’, O du mein Schmerz,
Du meine Welt, in der ich lebe,
Mein Himmel du, darein ich schwebe,
O du mein Grab, in das hinab
Ich ewig meinen Kummer gab.

Du bist die Ruh, du bist der Frieden,
Du bist vom Himmel mir beschieden.
Daß du mich liebst, macht mich mir wert,
Dein Blick hat mich vor mir verklärt,
Du hebst mich liebend über mich,
Mein guter Geist, mein beßres Ich!

Schumann, “Dedication”, Op. 25, no.1

You my soul, you my heart,
You my bliss, o you my pain,
You the world in which I live;
My heaven, you, in which I am floating,
You my grave, into which
I eternally cast my grief.

You are repose, you are peace,
You have been granted to me from heaven.
That you love me gives me worth;
Your gaze transfigures me;
You raise me lovingly above myself,
My good spirit, my better self!

Heinz Rehfus
May 25, 1917 – June 27, 1988

The German-born, Swiss, and later American bass-baritone, Heinz (Julius) Rehfuss, studied with his father, Carl Rehfuss (1885-1946), a singer and a teacher, and with his mother, Florentine Rehfuss-Peichert, contralto. The family moved to Neuchâtel, and Rehfuss became a naturalized Swiss citizen.

Heinz made his professional debut in opera at Biel-Solothurn in 1938. Then he sang with the Lucerne Stadttheater (1938-1939) and the Zürich Opera (1940-1952). He subsequently was active mainly in Europe and in America. He became a naturalized American citizen.

Rehfuss taught voice at the Montreal Conservatory in 1961 and in 1965 was on the Faculty of the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1970 he was a visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He also toured Asia, giving vocal recitals in India and Indonesia. He was successful mainly in dramatic roles, such as Don Giovanni and Boris Godunov, but he was also a gifted Bach singer.