ORFEO International


January 2013

† Lisa Della Casa

Lisa Della Casa, who died in her native Switzerland on 10 December 2012, was more closely identified with the title role of Richard Strauss's Arabella than was any other soprano. This inevitably brought with it the risk of ignoring the versatility of this magnificent artist with her silvery timbre and her unfailingly elegant, noble phrasing. Lisa Della Casa
Lisa Della Casa
Foto: Fayer
Lisa Della Casa was an ideal casting for the last female role created by Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and her live recording from the Salzburg Festival under Joseph Keilberth leaves us in no doubt of it. As a bonus to this Festival document we can hear how Lisa Della Casa also possessed the necessary musical authority and serenity for the Four Last Songs by the same composer (here under Karl Böhm). The same is true to the same degree for the Countess in Capriccio, which she sang and acted masterfully in various houses including the Vienna State Opera under Georges Prêtre. She was able to display the full breadth of her abilities in Vienna, as is proven impressively by the State Opera Portrait of Della Casa with excerpts ranging from Mozart to Gottfried von Einem. They include a sample of her Eva in the Mastersingers of Nuremberg, a role in which she also charmed the public of the Bayreuth Festival and of the Bavarian State Opera under Hans Knappertsbusch (the latter performance also survives in a live recording). Surely there was no important conductor of her day with whom Lisa Della Casa did not collaborate ? if not on the operatic stage, then in the concert hall. The Orfeo catalogue offers further audio documents such as Beethoven's Ninth and Brahms's German Requiem under Herbert von Karajan and Mozart's Requiem under Bruno Walter ? recordings that today take on a melancholy quality. Also difficult to surpass are her Pamina from Salzburg in the Magic Flute under George Szell and the only song recital that Della Casa ever gave in Salzburg, with Arpad Sándor at the piano. Her unerring sense of style will never be forgotten.