The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (67): Popp goes the moon

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (67): Popp goes the moon


norman lebrecht

May 21, 2020

Never bettered.


  • MezzoLover says:

    Just like Lisa Della Casa (in the last edition of Daily Comfort Zone), Lucia Popp was a nonpareil Straussian.

    Here is the video of her Vier Letzte Lieder with Solti and CSO at Orchestra Hall in October 1977 (pictured above):

    Part 1

    Part 2–Lk

    Not exactly Della Casa, but wonderful in her own way and equally rewarding.

  • sorin braun says:

    simply awful – though it is her mother tongue we don’t hear any discernible word – evey phrase is mumbled and meowed.she has a beautiful voice that gets lost in “freilauf”.

    • christopher storey says:

      Somehow I think you are being led astray by inferior reproduction : the recorded sound is very muddy indeed . But the singing and the characterisation is beyond compare

    • Brettermeier says:

      “though it is her mother tongue”

      But is it? Rusalka originally is in Czech and she’s from Slovakia (where people speak Slovak). I don’t speak either, that’s why I’m asking.

      • sorin braun says:

        czech and slovak are almost identical.almost…
        scholars differ on the exact scalar identity – some say 94% , some say 96.34%.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Czech and Slovak are, essentially, two dialects of the same language.

    • MezzoLover says:

      There is absolutely nothing awful about this recording. It was made in 1980 at the re-opening of the Oper Zürich, an exquisite opera house with beautiful acoustics.

      It is also where Popp’s last opera performances, as Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito, took place – in March 1993, eight months before her untimely passing.

      • Heifetz63 says:

        “exquisite opera house with beautiful acoustics” – have you really ever been there? In contrary, the hall is quite problematic, tends to be dry and cramped in repertory like Wagner’s “Ring” and nearly unbearably in Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth”. At least when Teodor Messias Currentzis is waving in the pit…

        • MezzoLover says:

          My last visit was on June 15, 2016. Christian Gerhaher’s Die schöne Müllerin with Gerold Huber at the piano. Faultless interpretation, and both singer and accompanist sounded wonderfully nuanced where I was sitting (Parkett).

          So my suggestion is go to a lieder recital there next time. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

    • Bruce says:

      Say what you like. I would listen to her sing the telephone book in Hungarian.

      With an American accent.

  • Alan K says:

    She was a magnificent and beautiful artist. Lucky to hear her once in a Kennedy Center recital. Her Richard Strauss 4 last songs are fabulous. What a horrible loss at the age of 53 from a brain tumor. Arlene Auger suffered the same fate as well. While not as well known, she was also a lovely singer.

    • MezzoLover says:

      It is impossible for me not to think of Arleen Auger and Tatiana Troyanos whenever I listen to Lucia Popp.

      They all succumbed to cancer in 1993, at the tragically young age of 54 (Auger was actually not quite 54 when she died).

      A tremendous loss indeed. The music world, and Mozart and Handel singing in particular, was never the same after the passing of these three supremely gifted artists.

  • Larry says:

    I swear that I get misty-eyed every time I hear this, no matter who is singing. Thanks for posting, NL.

    • sorin braun says:

      just because it is an amazing piece , which should cause what it causes you – it has to be sung correctly and not muffled.

  • IP says:

    A life cut too short, tragically, but, to this listener, a rather prosaic mermaid. There used to be a Rusalka, partially preserved, and a Butterfly, gone with the wind, in the face of Bulgarian-born Elka Mitzewa, now that’s poetry.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Lucia Popp owned that aria. Such recorded rapture is rare since Dorothy Maynor.