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Rita Streich discusses her upcoming recital and Studs plays selections ; part 3

BROADCAST: Feb. 17, 1962 | DURATION: 00:10:31


Studs Terkel interviews Rita Streich about her recital coming up. He also plays selections from her work for viewers to listen to. She also talks about music during World War II.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Studs Terkel We talked of this recital, the one you had planned, how it builds from the beginning to the very end, the definite form, different aspect, different aspects of life. But more than that, how the audience and the artist have now come together. And seemingly over it is, but of course, you have to return for the encores now.

Rita Streich Yeah, so this is sometimes a difficult question. What encores are on the right place? Of course, I I don't like to sing arias in the recital, sometimes the audience is very very very looking for opera aria. But of course, it is not the nice thing to sing it with a piano alone, you need the orchestra, and so that only for the orches- for the for the encore you could put an aria when the audience likes it very much sometimes they, you know, sometimes you hear you the wishes - they say, just from the from the - they give their wishes to hear what they would like to hear from myself--

Studs Terkel You mean the audience calling out.

Rita Streich Yes, yes. From my feeling now to this program, I would like to have a vocalise. For instance, this one, I like very much from Saint-Saens, "La Rossignol et La Rose" without words, a vocalise.

Studs Terkel A vocalise, in this case meaning that there are no words involved--

Rita Streich No words.

Studs Terkel With just a--

Rita Streich Just just a vocal line, vocal [art?], and but here the "Rossignol et La Rose", two different melodies speaks together.

Studs Terkel The nightingale and the rose.

Rita Streich Mhm [pause in recording]. Whish! Whish! All these crackers on it, oh my liebe Gott.

Studs Terkel Well, it's played so often, Rita Streich [laughter], in this one you might say no words needed, no words needed here. What is the phrase you used, the [klassische triller?]?

Rita Streich Oh, yeah, the triller, yes. You build a triller, you know, really you start one tone and the other and then, in a very special, quicker way you turn the two tones to a real triller, you know. We have a funny expression, [German]. This is not this is not the right thing for the classical triller. It's just a funny word between singers, you know, because you can make a triller very badly, too, only to turn to to--

Studs Terkel Question of turning it--

Rita Streich Ah, yes--

Studs Terkel With a certain finesse.

Rita Streich Yes, special function, where to post- posture the voice. And I think a good triller is very very seldom to hear. And this is especially true of the coloratura, of the real coloratura. She has to work on it very much. Also, if she has got a na- naturliche possibility to sing a triller, but it's always hard work to to to--

Studs Terkel The art of turning it just properly with all the nuances and--

Rita Streich Oh yes. A tune or a half tune has to be very very careful.

Studs Terkel And so as you sing this, the audience still cries out, and somebody, I'm sure somebody in the audience they call out, I'm sure someone calls out. They, they've heard you or they heard you on record, seen you as Queen of the Night, in "The Magic Flute", and of course I'm sure this is often called out, is it not?

Rita Streich Yes, this needs the orchestra, of course. This needs the orchestra.

Studs Terkel And yet at a recital with the piano, you still now and then, can can do it, can you not?

Rita Streich Oh, very very very rarely I must say. This will be a special, a specialty to do without orchestra.

Studs Terkel But here then with orchestra. Assuming this is the ideal circumstance for the recital, the orchestra's there. And this is the "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen", very angry now, the Queen of the Night is--

Rita Streich "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen".

Studs Terkel Is seeking vengeance.

Rita Streich

Studs Terkel Yes. And what's that - why don't you set the scene, for this thing?

Rita Streich Hmm?

Studs Terkel The scene in the opera as the Queen of the Night--

Rita Streich Oh--

Studs Terkel Is is giving Pamina the--

Rita Streich Oh, when she is suddenly after it to see her daughter. And she has the knife. She asked the daughter to to go--

Studs Terkel She wants her to knock off Sarastro.

Rita Streich Sarastro, yes. And therefore, she's really reaching. And she she treated her very badly, she must do what she as her mother [unintelligible] said to her.

Studs Terkel You know, offhand my first reaction I may ask you this, Rita Streich, we think of Queen of the Night, this vengeful figure, we hardly think of a coloratura. My first reaction would be, if I were Mozart--

Rita Streich Entirely, yeah--

Studs Terkel I'd think a mezzo, or a cont- know what I mean? Isn't that funny?

Rita Streich Yes, yes, that's right. And it should be, really. At first the time in when Mozart has written, is that, it was quite a little bit lower, you know, that we all, the orchestra we are going just--

Studs Terkel Raising it.

Rita Streich Raising to to a [higher frequency?] as it was. But I think it's probably he had a very very good mixture of a flexible and a dramatical[sic] voice when he wrote it. So he had this in mind to have a voice which really has the clarity of all this coloratura, but this must really be a classical coloratura also, because that must have a very very strong line. And often I always see that - I always hear, also, then if not every voice who can reach the high tune, can also sing the Queen of the Night. So this is really a style question.

Studs Terkel Here again the the classic coloratura and the Queen of the Night, the vengeance aria from "The Magic Flute" [pause for recording]. That's a highly dramatic moment there, powerful, Queen of the Night.

Rita Streich Yeah.

Studs Terkel Before, perhaps, the very end of this program and the recital and one I'm sure is familiar and ending on a note of ease and complete relaxation since you've sung this aria, Queen of the Night, Mozart, the forthcoming season at the Lyric, you're due back in Chicago again? Susanna?

Rita Streich With Susanna in "Le Nozze di Figaro", yes.

Rita Streich And in--

Rita Streich And the Amor in "Orpheus".

Studs Terkel In "Orpheus".

Rita Streich Mmmhmm, "Orpheus". I'm looking forward very much to come again because I like the atmosphere. The opera house was a very very nice time and the audience very much, so I'm I'm looking forward very much. I don't know if I already, I am able already to to to tell about this completely. I mean, it's fixed that I am coming, but I don't know the other circumstances, which - who sings which role--

Studs Terkel In "Orpheus"? And in some of the other works, in "Figaro"?

Rita Streich I don't know. Yes, I don't know exactly who will come.

Studs Terkel But you'll be there, this

Rita Streich much we do know. Yes [laughter].

Studs Terkel We know something good will be. And if we may, perhaps, Rita Streich, you've been so gracious and given us of this recital that you had planned and worked out and showed us what a recital really means, how it's part of one organic whole from the beginning, there's a beginning, a middle, and an end, like any work of art. And the artist now is known to the audience, revealed himself you might say, herself in this instance, and the audience gave to you. And that there's still, as "Variety" is our trade magazine, "Variety" of the entertainment world, and they have a phrase called, "she had to beg off", in other words, they're still cheering, they're applauding, and so at the very end you would sing what? At the very end.

Rita Streich You know, because I'm coming from Vienna, you know, probably a Viennese waltz would be the most wishes for a good, nice greeting from Vienna.

Studs Terkel So, this is a greeting song and a farewell song, both.

Rita Streich Yes.

Studs Terkel How would you say that, perhaps in [unintelligible], we will hear you sing now, "Voices of Spring". Johann Strauss' "Voices of Spring".

Rita Streich "Voices of Spring"? The "Fruhlingsstimmen" Waltzer? Yes, it's--

Studs Terkel "Fruhlingsstimmen".

Rita Streich "Fruhlingsstimmen" Waltzer.

Studs Terkel Oh, voices of spring, "Fruhlingsstimmen". But how would you say to me right now, Rita Streich, I say to you, thank you very much. See, we will end as you're singing the waltz, the "Voices of Spring." But right now I say goodbye to you, and thank you, and ho-, and when you return-.

Rita Streich Yes.

Studs Terkel With the Lyric, perhaps this other idea that you have that we could talk about that sounds so good.

Rita Streich Oh, yes.

Studs Terkel Your life is for the music, you know. I know you did something. You recorded an album in German.

Rita Streich Yes, yes, just is released a new group of - starting of a new group of records, and I have done - it sounds like this it's is a told life.

Studs Terkel Told life.

Rita Streich [German] things about we never spoke to the paper. It's just more intimate about the human side, the childhood, the parents, and when the first time was when I got together with the idea to sing in school time, and who were the important--

Studs Terkel Influences.

Rita Streich Influences. Who who were the teachers, what was really important steps in the career, and this all is told and, also, put with music. So, songs that I always have especially--

Studs Terkel So, the song that goes along with your growth and your development.

Rita Streich Yes, yes, Especially importance to this step of of life.

Studs Terkel Shall we try that next time you come to Chicago with the Lyric to do that?

Rita Streich Oh, yes, it would be a nice idea.

Studs Terkel An English version of it.

Rita Streich Yes, of course, I would like to do that.

Studs Terkel So, Rita Streich, thank you very much.

Rita Streich Please, Studs, I was very pleased to be again here. And so I say Auf Wiedersehen im herbst.

Studs Terkel And we say, take it easy, but take it, and you'll be back. It's a slang phrase.

Rita Streich All right. All right.

Studs Terkel Auf Wiedersehen.

Rita Streich I'll take it easy, thank you.

Studs Terkel One last waltz.