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SFO Streaming the First Century


Session 4: Excerpts

Die Walküre, with Flagstad-Lehmann-Melchior-Schorr-List on stage and Reiner in the pit: an assembly of such artists for the 1936 performances of Die Walküre says more about Gaetano Merola and San Francisco Opera than the most eloquent or over-the-top promotional material could begin to suggest. 
Larry Rothe (on Die Walküre, 1936)

Soprano Mary Costa as Despina, who was by that point in her career already famous for her film role as the voice of Aurora in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959), sounds lovely here in her 18th-Century version of a feminist aria (Clip 4), urging her mistresses not to let men get the best of them.
Clifford "Kip" Cranna (on Così fan tutte, 1960)

One of the greatest singing actresses to have portrayed Klytämnestra was American mezzo-soprano Regina Resnik. In her entrance, the character—opera’s most terrifying “mother from hell”—wonders bitterly why the gods have made her suffer so. In a role that is often growled, roared, shrieked, or otherwise vocally “faked,” Resnik set herself apart in her many performances of the role by truly singing the music, while at the same time powerfully communicating the agony felt by Klytämnestra. 
Roger Pines (on Elektra, 1966)

Die Walküre, 1936 (Richard Wagner)



Broadcast (11/13/1936)

4 excerpts: total run time ~ 16 minutes
One day after the ribbon cutting that opened the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge to cars, history of another sort was being made two miles away inside the Opera House. Fritz Reiner conducts one of the most significant broadcast performances of the era.

Così fan tutte, 1960 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)



Audience recording (October)
5 excerpts: total run time ~ 8 minutes
Longtime General Director Kurt Herbert Adler brings lively tempi to Mozart’s comedy, inspiring the cast to dazzling vocal moments, including a fiercely dramatic interpretation of the aria “Come scoglio” by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.

Elektra, 1966 (Richard Strauss)





Audience recording (September/October)
4 excerpts: total run time ~ 9 minutes

Amy Shuard’s relentless intensity and vocal endurance as Elektra make this 1966 performance, which also features Regina Resnik as Klytämnestra and Thomas Stewart’s Orest, irresistible and impossible to forget.

Fidelio, 1978 (Ludwig van Beethoven)




Broadcast (11/24/1978)
5 excerpts: total run time ~ 9 minutes

In 1969, Gwyneth Jones made her Company debut as Leonore in Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. Nearly a decade later, her return to the role is heroic, heartfelt, definitive. The performance also marked Sheri Greenawald’s first appearance with San Francisco Opera.