Leo Slezak

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Leo Slezak was one of the greatest singers ever – in both musical and physical terms.

Almost all his singing was exemplary, and his writing is a great source of joy and wisdom.

Some quotes (from memory):

1.
“Ich nehme keine Rücksicht, ich nehme Fisch.”
Difficult to translate. (Page under construction!) “I don’t take [the other guests/diners] into consideration – I take fish.”

2.
My wife allows everything. Only, I am not permitted to act on this.

3.
At an arduous rehearsal, the conductor had to correct Slezak for the umpteenth time, exclaimed: “Please consult the sheet music!”
Slezak: “Sir, if I could read music, I wouldn’t have to work with you like this.”

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More tidbits: tipping tourist guide “ich gehöre dazu” (lie)

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As a young singer of limited repertoire, he was nonetheless invited to Bayreuth. When it came to singing for Cosima Wagner, he could only offer “meine Bajazzo Aria”, i.e. Pagliacci – no Wagner!

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“If you try to insult humans by calling them ‘dog’, ‘cow’ or other animal names – you fail. Call me ‘pig’ any day. I’ve met all species and…” [as a colleague put it] “chicken are decent people!”

Pic: steffi-line.de

SOURCES:

3 books by L.S.

1 completed by his daughter: “Mein Lebensmärchen”

(These 4 to my knowledge never published in English)

…and Walter Slezak’s “Wann geht der nächste Schwan?” also contains stories about his father Leo.

bis auf Weiteres nur Gedächtniszitate!

Special thanks to Kathy for “Gesammelte Werke”. When I finally read it, it was love. Danke auch an Wolfgang und Gerda für “Rückfall” und “Wortbruch”, sowie den Antiquariaten dieser Stadt und ihren Engeln für das überraschende “Lebensmärchen” und “Wann geht der nächste Schwan?”

BH helped pronounce “Slähzak”

Michael Kerr

Brigitte Henn

(For English, scroll down)

lebenslauf-brigittte
Brigitte Henn(-Prassek) was born in Bruntál in former Czechoslovakia. She began her voice studies in Frankfurt am Main with Emmy Greif, continuing at the Music Academy there under Gertrude Pitzinger before moving to Helena Braun in Wiesbaden. Finally, she was a pupil of the singer and voice teacher Raymond Henn in Basel, whom she married.

From 1968-75 she was employed by Basel Theatre, after which she made frequent guest appearances at Deutsche Oper Berlin (1976-80) before returning to Basel with a guest contract that started in 1982. She made many guest appearances at the state opera houses of Munich and Stuttgart, at Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf-Duisburg, at the opera houses of Frankfurt am Main and Zurich, and at Hanover State Theatre.

Highlights in her stage repertoire include the Countess in “The Marriage of Figaro”, Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni”, Fiordiligi in “Così fan tutte”, Marzelline in “Fidelio”, Agathe in “Der Freischütz”, Euridice in Gluck’s “Orfeo”, Mařenka in Smetana’s “Bartered Bride”, Senta in “The Flying Dutchman”, Elsa in “Lohengrin”, Elisabeth in “Don Carlos”, Amelia in “Simon Boccanegra”, Alice Ford in “Falstaff”, Valencienne in “The Merry Widow”, and Electress Marie in “The Bird Seller” by Zeller. In the 1972-73 season at Basel Theatre she sang the role of Mariane in the revival of Reinhard Kaiser’s wholly forgotten opera “Masaniello furioso”. She has also had a successful career as a concert singer.

Heinrich Schlusnus

Text excerpts from SCHLUSNUS by Eckart von Naso*, pages 42-44

Selection by RH, translation by MK/KM

German Schlusnus (hier klicken)

English Schlusnus (click here)

Abridged for Wikipedia:

In 1919, an event of fundamental importance occurred. Schlusnus was already a successful singer, and yet he started again from scratch under the tutelage of Louis Bachner. During his earlier studies, it was fashionable to “cover” the voice, making it throaty, dark, and limited. Under Bachner, Schlusnus liberated his timbre and expanded his range. He sang simply as one speaks, naturally and distinctly. Louis Bachner: “with yield, not with capital.” Schlusnus: “[He] has given me freedom of voice, my vocal technique, and an understanding of proper singing. What I am, is thanks to him.”

Gekürzte Version für D-Wiki: Von grundlegender Bedeutung war das Jahr 1919, als der bereits erfolgreiche Sänger noch einmal von vorn anfing, unter dem Gesangspädagogen Louis Bachner. Schlusnus hatte einmal in seiner Jugend den Instinkt für den freien und ungekünstelten Naturgesang, der in der Frankfurter Lehrzeit verschüttet worden war. Damals wurde die Stimme durch das beliebte, sogenannte ‘Decken’ kehlig, dunkel und unfrei im Ton. Durch die Bachnersche Methode schälte sich das gültige Timbre heraus, und die Stimme erhielt eine mühelose und strahlende Höhe. So konnte Schlusnus einfach singen, wie man spricht, natürlich und deutlich, so dass gedruckte Programmtexte eigentlich überflüssig wurden. Bachner: “Mit Zinsen singen, nicht mit dem Kapital.” Schlusnus: “[Er] hat mir die Freiheit der Stimme gegeben, meine Stimmtechnik und das Verständnis für das richtige Singen. Was ich bin, verdanke ich ihm.”

* Published by ULLSTEIN, copyright Wolfgang Krüger Verlag, Hamburg 1957

Photo Copyright Ullstein Bild

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