Janowitz's voice was regarded as one of the most beautiful of its time, with a rich timbre that was ideal for the more poetic and serene operatic roles, such as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, and particularly Strauss heroines such as the Countess in Capriccio, Ariadne, Arabella, and the Marschallin. She was also celebrated for her Verdi, particularly Elisabetta in Don Carlo, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, and Aida. Some critics found her performances lacking in flamboyance, calling her tepid, but others found them elegantly underestated, relying on the music and the line rather than histrionics. She studied voice at the Graz Conservatory, winning a competition to make her opera debut in 1960 as Barbarina in Nozze at the Vienna State Opera and beginning a lifelong association with that house. Later that year, she made her Bayreuth Festival debut as a flowermaiden in Parsifal. She began to sing leads at the VSO, including, at Herbert von Karajan's urging, the Empress in Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten, at the age of 27. (Karajan had a habit of urging singers into heavy repertoire, often to their detriment; however, her fine technique and caution kept her voice from suffering.) Her Glyndebourne debut came in 1964, as Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo (with a new young Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, singing Idamante). She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1967 as Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre. Her Covent Garden debut was not until 1976, as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Throughout her career, she was as engaged with concerts and recitals as with operatic performances, becoming especially acclaimed for her renditions of Strauss' Four Last Songs. She retired from the stage in 1990, though she still gave the occasional concert.
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Classical - Released September 1, 2017 | First Hand Records
Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Maria Callas died on September 16, 1977; exactly 22 years later, September 16, 1999, Gundula Janowitz gave a recital in Athens, the city where her great colleague had grown up, and dedicated it in Callas’ memory. Now, in time for Janowitz’s 80th birthday, on August 2, 2017, a recording of that occasion – which was to be her very final public recital – is released at last. Callas and Janowitz had hardly shared a repertoire but what they both had were voices that were utterly distinctive, recognisable from the first note. Janowitz worked and recorded extensively throughout the 1960s and 1970s with all the leading conductors of the day: Karajan, Klemperer, Kempe, Kubelík, Kleiber, Solti, Bernstein and Haitink to pick but the most prominent. And the repertoire she focused on was built around two towering figures: Mozart and Richard Strauss. For her Athens recital, Janowitz chose two composers absolutely at the centre of her Lied repertoire, Franz Schubert and Richard Strauss, with a third, Robert Schumann, forming a bridge between the two. She was 62 years old by then, but the voice remains impeccable, crystal-clear, without a trace of a single wobble. One could only wish that all opera and Lied singers were in such remarkable shape at that age. © SM/Qobuz
Choral Music (Choirs) - Released July 21, 2017 | DOREMI
Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)
You can hear why Herbert von Karajan loved soprano Gundula Janowitz: the rich, ripe tone with the generous vibrato; the extraordinary emotional range; the operatic intensity of every phrase building to climaxes of rapturous ecstasy. In songs like Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118; and Suleika I, D. 720; or Die junge Nonne, D. 828, Janowitz's theatrical interpretations are justified by the material and in her ghostly and ghastly Schwestergruss, D. 762, they are a mad-scene in miniature. If her Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D. 965, is surely a virtuoso showpiece to rival Rossini, it is still filled with infectious enthusiasm and unfettered vocal joy. If her Ellens Gesang III ("Ave Maria"), D. 839, is perhaps a touch sentimentalizing, it is still thrilling with its achingly long legato lines. If her Du bist der Ruh, D. 776, is more secular than sacred, more sensual than serene, and finally more rapturous than radiant, well, one can hear what Karajan loved in that, too.
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