ORFEO International


January 2012

† Rita Gorr

The great Belgian mezzo-soprano Rita Gorr, who died only a few weeks before her eighty-sixth birthday, was one of those singers who force us to question traditional hierarchies on the operatic stage. Rita Gorr
Rita Gorr
Foto: Archive of the Bayreuther Festspiele
With her full-toned, penetrating timbre, coupled with a superior command of the technical and dramatic demands of the roles in her repertory, Rita Gorr intimidated many a soprano colleague and even tenor and baritone heroes – but never, of course, with the aim of simply making an impression for the sake of it. She did so mostly in Romantic works – whether in the German, French or Italian repertory was a matter of no great consequence. No Samson could get the better of her Delilah, and as Amneris she knew that her rival Aida could never be certain of Radames’ favour. On the Orfeo label she may be heard as a ferocious Ortrud at the 1959 Bayreuth Festival alongside Ernest Blanc’s Telramund, Sándor Kónya as her nemesis Lohengrin and Elisabeth Grümmer’s no less ideal Elsa – perhaps the most homogenous Lohengrin cast in the history of the gramophone. Rita Gorr continued to pursue her career until after her eightieth birthday, not least as a sinister Countess in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, a powerful vocal and histrionic assumption of the part that was seen at the Vienna State Opera in 1999 as well as elsewhere.