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Lyric Soprano

Alma Gluck, Romanian-American Lyric Soprano

By June 4, 2024No Comments

It is said that Alma Gluck was the most popular American soprano of her time. The recordings that we have are old, and they go back to the beginning of the 20th century. The sound quality is generally not good. The youtube videos that I have selected have all been remastered, some better than others. Gluck has a legato that is simply beautiful, and she is very expressive. She had a very large voice, which does not come through in the recordings that we have. I hope that you enjoy listening to her.

Hahn, L’heure exquise

La lune blanche
Luit dans les bois ;
De chaque branche
Part une voix
Sous la ramée…

Ô bien aimée.

L’étang reflète,
Profond miroir,
La silhouette
Du saule noir
Où le vent pleure…
L’heure exquise

Rêvons, c’est l’heure.

Un vaste et tendre
Apaisement
Semble descendre
Du firmament
Que l’astre irise…

C’est l’heure exquise.

Hahn, The Exquisite Hour

The white moon
shines in the woods.
From each branch
springs a voice
beneath the arbor.

Oh my beloved…

Like a deep mirror
the pond reflects
the silhouette
of the black willow
where the wind weeps.

Let us dream! It is the hour…

A vast and tender
calm
seems to descend
from a sky
made iridescent by the moon.

It is the exquisite hour!

Verdi, La traviata, Brindisi

ALFREDO
Libiam ne’ lieti calici
Che la bellezza infiora,
E la fuggevol ora
S’inebri a voluttà.
Libiam ne’ dolci fremiti
Che suscita l’amore,
Poiché quell’occhio al core
indicando Violetta
Onnipotente va.
Libiamo, amor fra i calici
Più caldi baci avrà.

TUTTI
Libiamo, amor fra i calici
Più caldi baci avrà.

VIOLETTA
S’alza
Tra voi saprò dividere
Il tempo mio giocondo;
Tutto è follia nel mondo
Ciò che non è piacer.
Godiam, fugace e rapido
È il gaudio dell’amore;
È un fior che nasce e muore,
Né più si può goder.
Godiam c’invita un fervido
Accento lusinghier.

TUTTI
Godiam la tazza e il cantico
La notte abbella e il riso;
In questo paradiso
Ne scopra il nuovo dì.

VIOLETTA
ad Alfredo
La vita è nel tripudio.

ALFREDO
a Violetta
Quando non s’ami ancora.

VIOLETTA
ad Alfredo
Nol dite a chi l’ignora.
Verdi, La Traviata, Brindisi

ALFREDO
a Violetta
È il mio destin così

TUTTI
Godiam la tazza e il cantico
La notte abbella e il riso;
In questo paradiso
Ne scopra il nuovo dì.

Verdi, La Traviata, Brindisi (drinking song)

ALFREDO
Let’s drink from the joyous chalice
Where beauty flowers …
Let the fleeting hour
To pleasure’s intoxication yield.
Let’s drink
To love’s sweet tremors –
To those eyes
That pierce the heart.
Let’s drink to love – to wine
That warms our kisses.

ALL
Ah! Let’s drink to love ? to wine
That warms our kisses.

VIOLETTA
rising
With you I would share
My days of happiness;
Everything is folly in this world
That does not give us pleasure.
Let us enjoy life,
For the pleasures of love are swift and fleeting
As a flower that lives and dies
And can be enjoyed no more.
Let’s take our pleasure!
While its ardent,
Brilliant summons lures us on.

ALL
Let’s take our pleasure
Of wine and
Singing and mirth
Till the new day
Dawns on us in paradise.

VIOLETTA
to Alfredo
Life is just pleasure.

ALFREDO
to Violetta
But if one still waits for love …

VIOLETTA
to Alfredo
I know nothing of that ? don’t tell me …

ALFREDO
to Violetta
But there lies my fate.

ALL
Let’s take our pleasure
Of wine and
Singing and mirth,
Till the new day
Dawns on this paradise of ours.

Offenbach, Barcarolle, aux Contes d’Hoffmann

Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour
Souris à nos ivresses
Nuit plus douce que le jour
Ô,belle nuit d’amour!
Le temps fuit et sans retour
Emporte nos tendresses
Loin de cet heureux séjour
Le temps fuit sans retour
Zéphyrs embrasés
Versez-nous vos caresses
Zéphyrs embrasés
Donnez-nous vos baisers!
Vos baisers! Vos baisers! Ah!
Belle nuit, ô, nuit d’amour
Souris à nos ivresses
Nuit plus douce que le jour,
Ô, belle nuit d’amour!
Ah! souris à nos ivresses!
Nuit d’amour, ô, nuit d’amour!
Ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah!

Offenbach, Barcarolle, Tales of Hoffmann

Lovely night, oh, night of love
Smile upon our joys!
Night much sweeter than the day
Oh beautiful night of love!
Time flies by, and carries away
Our tender caresses for ever!
Time flies far from this happy oasis
And does not return
Burning zephyrs
Embrace us with your caresses!
Burning zephyrs
Give us your kisses!
Your kisses! Your kisses! Ah!
Lovely night, oh, night of love
Smile upon our joys!
Night much sweeter than the day
Oh, beautiful night of love!
Ah! Smile upon our joys!
Night of love, oh, night of love!
Ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah!

Händel, Theodora, HWV 658, “Angels ever bright and fair”

Angels, ever bright and fair,
Take, oh take me to your care;
Speed to your own courts my flight,
Clad in robes of virgin white.

ALma Gluck
May 11, 1884 – October 27, 1938

Alma Gluck was a Romanian-born American singer whose considerable repertoire, performance skills, and presence made her one of the most sought-after recital performers of her day.

Gluck was born Reba Feinsohn to a Jewish family in Iași, Romania, the daughter of Zara and Leon Feinsohn. Fiersohn grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City and then worked as a stenographer until her marriage in 1902 to Bernard Glick. After having studied voice for just three years, in 1909 she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. There, under the name Alma Gluck, she performed the role of Sophie in Jules Massenet’s Werther. Over the next three years she sang a wide variety of lyric soprano roles, but opera apparently proved less interesting to her than the recital stage. In 1912 she left the opera stage, divorced her husband, and went to Europe to study. In London in 1914 she married the violinist Efrem Zimbalist.

Until 1920 she toured the United States regularly, performing as a soloist or with her husband in joint recitals. Her popularity was matched by few other singers, and her voice, grace, and attractiveness gave her a commanding stage presence. Gluck also became popular as a recording artist, and her recording of “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” sold nearly two million copies.