Saturday, April 30, 2011

A tribute to Sylvia Sass

Sylvie, as her friends call her, was and in a way is still my teacher and friend.
Just listen (and look, since she's a beautiful woman). Her recordings of the Wesendonck Lieder are also extraordinary.
I participated in 2 masterclasses a few yrs. ago and worked with her intensively for 1 month.
 From left to right: Thierry Pillon (actor, director, and singer), Eric Herrero (wonderful tenor), Sylvia Sass, and me
She is the greatest musician I've ever known. Her technique didn't work for me at the time, but I'm beginning to understand what she meant. There are a lot of rumors concerning the "end" of her short career. I know the real reasons and the world can talk as much as it wants. She did write a few books, where she talks about everything, also about meeting Maria Callas. article Sylvia meets Maria Callas
A wonderful, magical person and a great, great artist.
 This is the recording which inspired me to contact her (besides her  Torino 1982 performance of Lady Macbeth on youtube)
This difficult aria from Verdi's "I Lombardi" is on there as well.

I own the DVD of her Bluebeard's Castle. It is exquisite. Unfortunately no clips are available online (at least not from where I am writing). 

Here's a recent video of her (no singing). She's talking about the masterclass.

Here in this extremely difficult piece by Erkel Ferenc from the opera Hunyadi Laszlo
Here her MET debut

Here singing "D'amor sull'ali rosee" from Trovatore (one of my favorite arias). Listen to her trills play with the strings. She's always right there with the instruments. It's unbelievable.

Doesn't this send shivers down your spine

Here I love her eyebrow lift as she reads the letter (and love the rest too). This is one of the best Lady Macbeth's, and I mean up there with Verrett and Callas.

And finally in an atypical role for her rep. She taught me about the verismo style.
How elegant and heartbreaking.

I think her dream though was to sing Wagner and Strauss. Her favorite music are the" Vier Letzte Lieder" She apparently was a great Salome.
Here rehearsing Salome. I got this from her myspace page.
Here as Salome (myspace)

Brünnhilde was one of her dream roles and that is where we found each other. God bless her!


  1. So far I've seen the singer behind your words. Now I've seen the woman behind these words (upper picture). If you'll excuse me, I selected 'interesting' for the first part (could have done educational too) and 'funny' for the second part ('no words' seems to be less appropriate). I just hope more people will find their way to this blog. It deserves to be read. I've posted some links to it here and there (Opera Obsession and In Fernem Land, for example). Let's see how it turns out. It's nice to be your guest, but it would me nicer to meet other guests as well. I'm sure you'd agree.

  2. Thank you! I try not to spend my life on the internet, since I have my coachings and practice. Also, Munich is a lovely city.
    It would be nice to have some more interested people like you commenting here. Though I don't want to post things for the sake of having followers. I like when someone takes the time to read and listen and tries to follow the thoughts, sharing opinions. I realized that my posts are more presenting than analyzing. I like certain music and artist. Often one can analyze the reasons why, but why should one? Everyone is entitled to their own taste and opinions. So much of it being emotionally guided anyway.
    I think a post can be the beginning of a great dialogue. And I always find that my thoughts develop much more in dialogue than in monologue.

  3. Agreed. And then you have this unique extra of being an opera singer yourself. Not too many bloggers can say so (and bring this expertise when it comes to analyzing voices). It's fascinating. I'd be interested to have your take on the Aix Walkure I mentioned earlier. One day. Not just for Eva, by the way. In staging and voices it was so different from the MET Walkure. At first I had to get used to the Siegmund of Robert Gambill, but I got to appreciate it. Lilli Paasikivi (as Fricka) has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. Fantastic. But not the diction of Stephanie Blythe. Hunding, I liked a lot. He was different from the usual Hunding. Mikhail Petrenko was dressed up like a KGB assassin, quite menacing. I'm sure it would make an interesting addition to your collection, this Walkure. It was ...different.