|Helen Donath (born July 10, 1940)
is one of the greatly admired lyric sopranos of her age, noted for her pure
timbre and interpretive powers, as well as her vocal longevity. She is equally
adept on the opera stage, in recital, and in oratorios. Like many singers
of her generation, she fell in love with opera through the Mario Lanza movie
The Great Caruso. She first
studied music at Del Mar College in her hometown of Corpus Christi at the
age of 14 and later in New York with Paola Novikova, where she made her
concert debut in 1958. After auditioning for an agent who sent her to the
Cologne Opera, she made her opera stage debut in 1962 in the comprimario
role of Inez in Verdi's Il Trovatore.
In 1966, she joined the Munich Staatsoper as a guest artist, beginning a
long association with that house. During the 1960s, she also briefly became
a protégé of Herbert von Karajan, but her persistent refusal
of his offers of roles she thought were too heavy brought that rapport to
an end. She was to have made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1968, but canceled
because of her later pregnancy; she didn't appear at the Met until 1991.
In 1970, she made her Salzburg Festival debut as Pamina in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Her United States opera
debut was in 1971 as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier.
In 1979, she first appeared at Covent Garden as Anne in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. Until her return
to the United States in the early '90s, the majority of her career took
place in Germany and Austria, and she was awarded the title of Kammersaengerin.
Her husband, who has also acted as her vocal advisor, is pianist, choir
director, and conductor Klaus Donath. Their son, Alexander, is a stage director.
|[Obituary for Mario Berini, published
in The New York Times, March 11,
Mario Berini, an opera singer known for his interpretation of dramatic tenor roles, died on Monday at Beth Israel Hospital. He was 80 and lived in Manhattan.
His wife, Anna Lee, said he had been ill for some time.
Mr. Berini sang Cavaradossi in "Tosca" in February 1944 in the first opera performance at City Center. Two years later he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera, taking over the title role in "Faust" with just nine hours' notice when the scheduled tenor, Raoul Jobin, became ill. In his two seasons with the Met he appeared as Don Jose in "Carmen," Dimitri in "Boris Godunov" and other roles. He sang Rodolfo in "La Boheme" and the title role in "Tales of Hoffmann" with other companies, and also appeared on Broadway in 1946 in Ben Hecht's play "A Flag Is Born."
Mr. Berini was born in Russia and grew up in California. He made his New York debut in 1940 with the San Carlo Opera Company and later sang with major opera companies and orchestras in the United States. He also sang at Radio City Music Hall and on radio and television.
In the early 1950's, one of his vocal cords was severed during surgery for removal of a node. With his singing career over, he turned to teaching. Among his students were the soprano Helen Donath and the cabaret singer Pia Zadora.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a sister, Lynn Holzman of Los Angeles, and a brother, Alan Edwards of San Francisco.
Besides the solo recitals and the recordings she mentions in the interview,
here are some of the other recordings Donath has made over the years . . . . .
[Names which are links refer to my interviews elsewhere on this website.
They are only linked once - repeated appearances do not have the link.
Those who are linked in the text above are also not linked in this chart.]
Sancta Susanna (Hindemith) Berlin Radio Symphony/Gerd Albrecht [Wergo]
Das Christelflein (Pfitzner) with Perry, Ahnsjö, Malta; Munich Radio Orchestra/Kurt Eichorn [Orfeo D'Or]
Paulus (Mendelssohn) with Fischer-Dieskau, Schwarz, Hollweg; Dusseldorf Sym/Frübeck de Burgos [Angel]
Merry Wives of Windsor (Nicolai) with Mathis, Schwarz, Moll, Schreier, Weikl; Berlin State Orch/Klee [DG]
Königskinder (Humperdinck) with Schwarz, Dallapozza, Prey, Ridderbusch; Munich Radio Orch/Wallberg [EMI]
Seasons (Haydn) with Adalbert Kraus, Widmer; Ludwigsburg Orch/Gönnenwein [Vox]
Don Giovanni (Mozart) with Soyer, Evans, Harper, Sgourda, Alva; English Chamber Orch/Barenboim [EMI]
Requiem (Mozart) with Minton, Davies, Nienstedt; BBC Sym/Davis [Phi]
Land of Smiles (Lehar) with Jerusalem, Lindner, Finke, Hirte; Munich Radio Orch, Boskovsky [EMI]
Meistersinger (Wagner) with Adam, Kollo, Hesse, Evans, Schreier, Ridderbusch, Kélémen; Drsden State Orch/Karajan [EMI]
Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck) with Moffo, Fischer-Dieskau, Berthold, Auger, Ludwig; Munich Radio Orch/Eichorn [Eurodisc]
Mass in B Minor (Bach) with Fassbaender, Ahnsjö, Hermann, Holl; Bavarian Radio Orch/Jochum [EMI]
Masked Ball (Verdi) with Tebaldi, Pavarotti, Milnes, Resnik, Van Dam; St. Cecilia Orch/Bartoletti [London]
Alexander's Feast (Handel) with Tear, Allen, Burgess; English Chamber Orch /Ledger [Angel]
Freischütz (Weber) with Behrens, Meven, Kollo, Moll, Brendel; Bavarian Radio Orch/Kubelik [London]
Messiah (Handel) with Reynolds, Burrows, McIntyre; London Phil/Richter [DG]
Evangelimann (Kienzl) with Jerusalem, Hermann, Wenkel, Moll; Munich Radio Orch/Zagrosek [EMI]
Symphony #2 (Mendelssohn); with Hansmann, Kmentt; New Phil/Sawallisch [Phi]
Magic Flute (Mozart) with Schreier, Geszty, Adam, Leib, Hoff, Neukirch; Dresden State Orch/Suitner [RCA]
Turn of the Screw (Britten) with Harper, Tear, June; Covent Garden Orch/Davis [Decca]
Merry Widow (Lehar) with Moser, Prey, Jereusalem, Kusche; Munich Radio Orch/Wallberg [EMI]
Leonore (Beethoven) with Moser, Cassilly, Adam, Ridderbusch; Dresden State Orch/Blomstedt [EMI]
Fidelio (Beethoven) with Dernesch, Vickers, Kélémmen, Ridderbusch, Van Dam; Berlin Phil/Karajan [EMI]
Orfeo (Haydn) with Swensen, Greenberg, Quasthoff; Munich Radio Orch/Hager [Orfeo (!)]
Rose Pilgerfahrt (Schumann) with Hamari, Altmeyer, Sotin; Dusseldorf Sym/Frübeck de Burgos [EMI]
Christmas Oratorio (Bach) with Lipovšek, Schreier, Büchner, Holl; Dresden State Orch/Schreier [Phi]
Creation (Haydn) with Tear, Van Dam; Philh/Frübeck de Burgos [EMI]
Marriage of Figaro (Mozart) with Titus, Varady, Furlanetto, Schmiege, Zednik, Nimsgern; Bavarian Radio Sym/Davis [RCA]
Missa Solemnis (Beethoven) with Soffel, Jerusalem, Sotin; London Phil/Solti [BBC]
Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck) with Horne, Lorengar; Covent Garden Orch/Solti [Decca]
Palestrina (Pfitzner) with Gedda, Fischer-Dieskau, Weikl, Ridderbusch, Fassbaender; Bavarian Radio Orch/Kubelik [DG]
Rosenkavalier (Strauss) with Crespin, Minton, Jungwirth, Wiener, Dickie, Howells, Pavarotti; Vienna Phil/Solti [Decca]
Carmen (Bizet) with Moffo, Corelli, Cappuccilli, Auger, Van Dam; Berlin German Opera Orch/Maazel [RCA]
Requiem (Mozart) with Ludwig, Tear, Lloyd; Philh/Giulini [EMI]
Vera Costanza (Haydn) with Norman, Ahnsjö, Ganzarolli, Trimarchi; Lausanne Chamber Orch/Dorati [Phi]
Gianni Schicchi (Puccini) with Panerai, Seiffert; Munich Radio Orch/Patané [Eurodisc]
L'Incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi) with Söderström, Berberian, Equiluz, Esswood, Langridge; Vienna Concentus Musicus/Harnoncourt [Teldec]
Gärtnerin aus Liebe (Mozart) with Norman, Troyanos, Cotrubas, Unger, Hollweg, Prey; North German Radio Orch/Schmidt-Isserstedt [Phi]
Finta Semplice (Mozart) with Holl, Rolfe Johnson, Berganza, Ihloff, Thomas Moser, Lloyd; Salzburg Mozarteum Orch/Hager [Orfeo]
Mass in A-Flat (Schubert) with Fassbaender, Araiza, Fischer-Dieskau; Bavarian Radio Orch/Sawallisch [EMI]
Symphony #9 (Beethoven) with Soffel, Jerusalem, Lika; Munich Phil/Celibidache [EMI]
Elijah (Mendelssohn) with Miles, van Nes, George, Klein; Israel Phil/Masur [Teldec]
Apollo e Daphne (Handel) with Runge; Cappella Coloniensis/Wich [Phoenix]
Symphony #9 (Beethoven) with Schmidt, König, Estes; Bavarian Radio Orch/Davis [Phi]
Ludio Silla (Mozart) with Schreier, Auger, Varady, Mathis, Krenn; Salzburg Mozarteum Orch/Hager [Phi]
© 1992 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded at her hotel in Northbrook, IL (a suburb of Chicago, near the Ravinia Festival) on June 18, 1992. Portions were broadcast on WNIB in 1995, 1997 and 2000. This transcription was made in 2014, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here. To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.
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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.