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From Queen of the Night to Elektra: Opera Arias, Songs & Lieder

CDA1806
£19.99

Details

It is easier to find roles that Laila did not sing. On the question who she liked to sing with, she immediately answered Rolf Björling. "He was a top singer who you really could trust", she said. "He had the same timbre and body form as his father Jussi. Gedda was more distant, not just as loving on the stage as Rolf, but Gedda had a wonderful sense of humour." With Gedda she sang Tosca in Savonlinna under Sixten Ehrling.

When Laila sang her last performance at the Stockholm Opera in the role as Elektra, on the 4th of May 1996, the role list was decorated with a coloured photo with the singer and a hundred of piano reductions. They contained the hundred roles that Laila sang in the Stockholm Opera during her 32 years as an employee. A most unusual record. Now Laila has also written her memoirs. She tells about her long, variable and successful career, but also difficult ordeals in her private life, for instance the stroke she suffered in 2003, and how to survive even if you are severely harrowed. Henry Larsson, translation: Bo Hyttner

From Queen of the Night to Elektra: Opera Arias, Songs & Lieder

Reviews

Soprano Laila Andersson-Palme was a mainstay at the Stockholm Royal Opera for 32 years. During those years she appeared in about 100 different roles, including those she sang as international guest for many years. There are no recording dates given for the six Richard Strauss songs with the eminent Jan Eyron at the piano, but probably they are somewhat later. Hat gesagt … is lively and flexible and there is excellent rapport with the pianist. In Morgen Eyron plays wonderfully and Laila Andersson’s pianissimo singing is lovely.

More Strauss follows, but now we jump more than twenty years in time to 1988 and the terzett from Der Rosenkavalier. Her Feldmarschallin is marvellous and she has great singers as Octavian and Sophie: Sylvia Lindenstrand and Britt-Marie Aruhn, whom I also heard many times, and in the pit is Laila Andersson’s favourite conductor Sixten Ehrling.

CD 2 opens with a superb Vissi d’arte from Tosca. Here, as in the following Sleepwalking scene from Macbeth, the orchestra is conducted by Carlo Felice Cillario, who was chief conductor in Stockholm for several years. Elektra’s monologue was recorded at her very last appearance at the Royal Opera in May 1996, and it is a remarkably consistent voice we hear after 32 years! The Salome excerpt was recorded a dozen years earlier in Berlin and the sound is mono but the singing is magnificent. The half-hour-long second half of the third act of Die Walküre is undated, but Laila Andersson’s singing is great and beautiful and Danish baritone Leif Roar is a light-voiced Wotan – but very good!

Finally we are treated to Marie’s arias from Wozzeck, sung in Swedish but just as impressive as I remember it from the performance I saw. Then, as on this recording, it was the young Esa-Pekka Salonen who conducted. He was then at the beginning of his international career, but there is no doubting his commitment to Alban Berg’s score and he has always been a champion of modern and contemporary music.

The target group for this issue should primarily be those who experienced Laila Andersson-Palme in the opera house, whether it be the Royal Stockholm Opera or any of the international houses where she was a welcome guest for many years. Sterling and Bo Hyttner definitely deserve an armful of roses for releasing this full-length portrait of one of the great Swedish singers of the last few decades. Göran Forsling, MusicWeb

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