D'Albert: Tiefland - Varnay, Hopf, Symonette, Ernster; Quennet. Düsseldorf, 1964
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I did not know this opera at all except for the soprano aria "Ich weiss nicht wer mein Vater war" and I had no idea what to expect. After listening to it with the libretto, I found that any expectations I could have had would not have readied me for this unique and mysterious work. It is worth noting that this opera was written in 1903 because the work seems to bridge both the 19th and 20th century. The composition incorporates Wagnerian sweeping romanticism as well as hints of Straussian expressionism and Italian verisimilitude. The story centers on a disgraced woman who is ultimately redeemed by the man she loves. However, Marta, the main character is far from a Violetta Valery and the libretto is quite explicate as to the indignities that she was forced to submit to growing up with a blind mother who "never knew who the father was." So what at first glance seems like a romantic-era pastorale reveals itself to have a touch of Freudian insight into the psyche and hints of modernism. This performance is excellent. In 1964 Astrid Varnay was already starting to gravitate towards the mezzo roles, however Marta was still well within her comfort zone and she conveys the inner torment and self-loathing of Marta very movingly. Hans Hopf sounds about as good as I ever heard him. The lyrical quality of the roles suits him very well and the problems he had with sagging pitch in other roles do not plague him here. The sound is very good.