Gounod: Faust - Kmentt, Lipp, Uhde, Wächter, Miljakovic, Rössl-Madjan: Prêtre. Wien, 1963
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In the 60s after years of having a "German-language-only" policy, Vienna and other German speaking opera houses began to experiment with presenting operas in their original languages. This performance marks one of those endeavors. The cast, all German speaking, does remarkably well with conveying French style (They must have had the help of the great French conductor Georges Prêtre.) The French is far from perfect, but the new language barrier does not stop them from conveying the text. Heading the cast is Waldemar Kmentt. I have always found him to be a very elegant singer in Mozart and Wagner. What I never knew before was that he had a remarkable top. He holds the C in the aria endlessly. Hermann Uhde, a great singing actor, seems perfectly at home as Mephistofeles. Despite not being a true bass, his voice has a wonderful black quality and he brings the same suave malevolence to the role that made him so great in roles like Klingsor. Wilma Lipp sings Marguerite. Her voice is perfect for this role. It has remarkably agility but there is a sensuality to it that lends itself to great affect in her scenes with Faust. What surprised me was how much voice she could produce when needed. In the final trio (a section that kills sopranos) she produces incredibly rapturous and opulent tones. Eberhard Wächter is a melifulous Valentin. It is worth pointing out that this performance is also way ahead of its time because it includes the Walpurgis scene- a rarity even today. The sound is good.