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Prince Ypsheim-Gindelbach – Karl Donch

Count Zedlau – Nicolai Gedda

Gabriele – Elizabeth Schwarzkopf

Count Bitowski – Karel Stepanek

Franziska Cagliari – Erica Koth

Kagler – Alois Pernerstortorfer

Pepi Pleiniger – Emmy Loose

Josef – Erich Kunz

Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus – cond Otto Ackermann


Naxos Historical 8.111257

Recorded 1954 – 1 CD – 69 minutes (mono)


This recording dates from 1954 when Schwarzkopf was busy expanding her recorded repertoire to include Viennese operetta. It is easy to forget that at that time she was singing Violetta and Manon at Covent Garden – her starring roles in Richard Strauss and Mozart were still in the future.


Wiener Blut is based on Strauss melodies put together by Adolf Muller, house conductor at the Theatre an der Wien, with a book by Leon and Stein. The action takes place in 1815 at the congress of Vienna where the great powers of Europe were parcelling out the spoils after the defeat of Napoleon. The story, in fact, has nothing to do with such a serious event – being a confection of delicious misunderstandings as light as any “Sacher-torte” and just as sweet.


Schwarzkopf takes the role of the glamorous Countess whilst the romance is supplied by the luscious tenor voice of Nicolai Gedda; apparently at home in any language you could think of, and probably some others besides.


The humour is in the expert hands of baritone Erich Kunz, well known in Vienna for his contortions as the “Albanian” in Cosi fan tutte which convulsed the audience. (The conductor however was not amused and the result was a hefty fine.)


The cast is completed with a couple of expert soubrettes to provide the necessary plot complications.


It seems that Schwarzkopf remembered these recording sessions with affection as an excerpt featured in the famous Desert Island Discs programme when all the pieces played were sung by her!


Enough dialogue is included to give the illusion of a stage performance, at the cost of some minor portions of the score. No libretto is provided but a synopsis is included in the accompanying notes. This also states that there are a few “drop-outs” in the original tape, but once you come under the spell of this seductive piece you are not likely to notice them. The sound is slightly brighter than the EMI issue – recommended.


Stuart Jenkins