Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Alexander Kipnis sings Cardinal Brogni's aria in an all new transfer
Kipnis as Cardinal Brogni at the Teatro Colon
If there was a singer ripe for a biography, it is Alexander Kipnis. While his recordings are still well known and highly regarded by fans of historical opera recordings, nothing has been published on his life, except internet biographies. His son Igor, the harpsichordist had been working on such a book prior to his death but unfortunately it was never printed. All of that said, Kipnis lived an extraordinary life, from the Jewish ghetto of the Ukraine, to decorated opera singer, he triumphed where many before him had failed. (He was a huge success at Bayreuth and Siegfried Wagner even conducted several of his recordings!) When one reads what one can of his life story, he made his way to the top on raw talent, a lucky break and an uncanny intelligence. One of the interesting facts that is not well known is that Kipnis spent 9 years in the United States from 1923 to 1932. Initially he arrived with a German touring company and at the end of their run received a contract from the Chicago Opera. He applied for citizenship in the United States and it was granted. When he returned to Germany in 1933 to sing with the Berlin Staatsoper, things became more and more intolerable there for Jews. Felix Weingartner, who was the Generaldirektor of the Vienna Staatoper knowing Kipnis and the situation in Berlin in 1935 offered him a contract with the Vienna Staatsoper, first as a guest and later as a full member of the Company. Kipnis needless to say readily accepted. He stayed with the Company until the Anschluss in 1938 and was able to leave Vienna with his family bound for America with his American passport. The rest is opera history.
The recording we offer with this blog post is Kipnis's Homochord recording of Cardinal Brogni's aria "Si la Rigeur" from Halevy's La Juive. (He sings in German, "Wenn ew'ger Hass" here.) The Berlin recoding made on September 9, 1923 is known, however, in the past, the transfers have been noisy, dull and in some cases not properly pitched. We offer the recording to you in the best sound transfer to date.