Alfredo Kraus at Lyric Opera of Chicago
1962 - Elisir d'amore [American Debut] with Adani, Zanasi, Corena; Cillario
1963 - Barber of Seville with Berganza, Zanasi, Christoff, Corena; Cillario
Don Pasquale with Adani, Bruscantini, Corena; Cillario
1964 - Favorita with Cossotto, Bruscantini, Vinco; Cillario
Don Giovanni with Stich-Randall, Curtin, Ghiaurov, Kunz, Uppman; Krips, Zeffirelli (set designer)
1965 - [Opening Night] Mefistofele with Ghiaurov, Tebaldi, Suliotis; Sanzogno
Carmina Burana with Martelli, Bruscantini; Fournet
L'Heure Espagnol with Berganza, Bruscantini; Fournet
Rigoletto with Scotto, MacNeil/Bruscantini, Vinco; Bartoletti
1966 - Pearl Fishers with Eda-Pierre, Bruscantini, Ghiuselev; Fournet
Italian Flood Relief Benefit Concert
Traviata with Maliponte/Rinaldi, Bruscantini; Rossi
[Note: There was no Lyric Opera Season in 1967]
1968 - Don Pasquale with Grist, Evans/Washington, Bruscantini; Bartoletti
1969 - Puritani with Rinaldi, Cappuccilli, Washington; Ceccato
Don Giovanni with Watson, Ligabue, Gobbi, Evans, Raskin; Leitner, Gobbi (director)
1971 - Rigoletto with Robinson, Cappuccilli, Vinco; Bartoletti
Werther with Troyanos, Angot; Fournet, Mansouri (director)
1973 - Manon with Zylis-Gara, Patrick, Gramm; Fournet
Daughter of the Regiment with Sutherland, Malas, Resnik, Tourel; Bonynge
1974 - Favorita with Cossotto, Cappuccilli, Vinco; Rescigno
Don Pasquale with Cotrubas, Ganzarolli, Sardinero; Bartoletti
1975 - Traviata with Cotrubas, Cappuccilli; Bartoletti
1976 - Rigoletto with Mauti-Nunziata, Mittelmann/Manuguerra; Chailly
1978 - Werther with Minton, Nolen; Giovaninetti
Don Pasquale with Blegen, Evans, Stillwell; Pritchard
1979 - [Opening Night] Faust with Freni, Ghiaurov, Stillwell; Prȇtre
1980 - Recital
1981 - Romeo and Juliette with Freni, Raftery, Bruscantini; Fournet
1982 - [Opening Night] Tales of Hoffmann with Welting, Zschau, Masterson, Mittelmann; Bartoletti
1983 - Manon with Scotto, Titus, Washington; Rudel
Callas Celebration Concert with Cotrubas, Scotto, Vickers; Bartoletti
-- Note: Names which are links refer to interviews by Bruce Duffie elsewhere on this website.
Alfredo Kraus, Lyric Tenor Revered for Phrasing, Was 71
By Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, September 11, 1999
Alfredo Kraus, a lyric tenor who was revered for the refinement of his phrasing and the artistry he brought to bel canto roles, died yesterday at his home in Madrid. He was 71.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, his family said.
Although he never received the kind of popular acclaim accorded Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, Mr. Kraus had a tremendous following among opera connoisseurs. In particular he was admired for his bright, trim timbre, his distinctive phrasing and an assured, self-possessed acting style. In his performances in signature roles like the Duke in ''Rigoletto,'' Alfredo in ''La Traviata,'' Nemorino in ''L'Elisir d'Amore'' or the title role in ''Werther,'' Mr. Kraus avoided empty display, preferring to use a composers' demand for virtuosity as an emotional element, intrinsic to the character he was creating.
Mr. Kraus's career was also an object lesson in how a singer might preserve his voice, despite the temptations to sing too often and too loud or to take on unsuitable roles. It was not for a lack of offers that he did not sing such bread-and-butter roles as Cavaradossi in ''Tosca'' or Pinkerton in ''Madama Butterfly.'' He learned those roles, and he said that he gave single performances of them early in his career. But he decided that his voice would last longer and remain fresher if he confined himself to the lyric roles of the bel canto repertory. Indeed, he was able to produce his high D, at full power and with a lovely ring, well into his 60's.
''It's a matter of knowing what kind of voice you have from the very beginning and learning to use that voice onstage, with the right technique'' he told The New York Times in 1988. ''It is not so easy, because we are using an instrument that is immaterial. We can't touch it, it's only air. We don't even hear it properly, because we hear a combination of inside and outside sound. You cannot go by what you hear, you must learn to be very sensitive to how it feels, and you can only speak of it in a very figurative language.''
Mr. Kraus also enjoyed running the business side of his career. He did not employ a personal manager during his most active years, preferring to make his own decisions, which were often based on instinct. He would not, for example, work with conductors who he felt tried to sublimate performers' personalities, no matter how auspicious the engagement. He limited his schedule to about 60 appearances a year, and although these usually included performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala and the Teatro Colon, in Buenos Aires, he also made a point of appearing in small Spanish and Italian opera houses normally outside the limelight.
He owned and personally supervised a small Spanish record label, Carillon Records. Carillon was the first Spanish company to release a complete opera set, a recording of ''Pearl Fishers,'' with Mr. Kraus in the cast.
Mr. Kraus was born in Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands, on Sept. 24, 1927. He enjoyed singing in church and at local celebrations, but his father -- an Austrian who had taken Spanish citizenship -- insisted that he prepare for a career in the sciences. Mr. Kraus earned a degree in electrical engineering, but when he was in his mid-20's, he decided to study singing more seriously as well, first in Valencia and Barcelona, later with Mercedes Llopart, in Milan.
In 1955 Mr. Kraus won the silver medal in a vocal competition in Geneva. He had appeared onstage in zarzuela performances in Madrid, in 1954, but he always gave the date of his formal operatic debut as 1956, when he sang the Duke in a Cairo performance of ''Rigoletto.'' The Cairo engagement also included Mr. Kraus's only performance as Cavaradossi.
This interview was recorded in apartment in Chicago on December
7, 1981. Portions
(along with recordings) were used on WNIB in 1987, 1992, 1997 and
transcription was made in 1982 and part was published in the Massenet Newsletter in July, 1982,
and in Opera Scene Magazine
in August, 1982. The transcript was re-edited and posted on this
website in 2013.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
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.