Wagner Duets
Various Artists
Catalogue No.

Looking back at ‘Tristan und Isolde’ twenty years after its composition, Wagner told his wife Cosima: ‘My model was Romeo and Juliet – nothing but duets!’ He was invoking Bellini’s opera,’I Capuleti e i Montecchi’ which he had conducted many times as a young man. Indeed, there had been much in the Italian master’s legacy that had impressed the young Wagner, including the ‘long, long, long melodies’ that Verdi described and the technique of melodic sequence in which a phrase is repeated with rising pitch and heightened effect. The erotic potential of such procedures is famously exploited in the ‘night of love’ in Act II of ‘Tristan und Isolde’. And while this might well claim to be Wagner’s best-known duet, this innovative 2CD set, compiled by Australia’s Wagner expert Peter Bassett (who also contributes the notes) brings together a collection of dialogues, musical conversations and duets from the major Wagner operas.

The recordings are among the finest ever made. The singers are a Who’s Who of great names from the sixties, seventies and eighties – Fischer-Dieskau, Janowitz, Vickers, Thomas, Price, Kollo… with conductors like Karajan, Kleiber and Jochum directing these revelatory performances. The breadth and diversity of the emotion on this double album is matched by the generous playing times: more than two hours and forty minutes of music on a 2CD set.


CD 1
Der fliegende Holländer:
Wie aus der Ferne längst vergang’ner Zeiten
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Cheryl Studer, soprano
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Giuseppe Sinopoli

Das süβe Lied verhallt, wir sind allein
James King, tenor
Gundula Janowitz, soprano
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk
Rafael Kubelik

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:
Grüβ Gott, mein Junker!
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Plácido Domingo, tenor

Gott, mein Evchen!
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Catarina Ligendza, soprano
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Eugen Jochum

Geliebter, sag’, wo weilt dein Sinn?
Dir töne Lob! Die Wunder sei’n gepriesen
Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Wolfgang Windgassen, tenor
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Otto Gerdes

Ach! Ach! Tiefe Nacht! Wahnsinn! – Furchtbare Not!
Dunja Vejzović, mezzo-soprano
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass

Du siehst, das ist nicht so
Gurnemanz: Kurt Moll, bass
Peter Hofmann, tenor
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Das Rheingold:
Wotan! Gemahl! Erwache!
Josephine Veasey, mezzo-soprano
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Die Walküre:
Schläfst du, Gast? –
Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond –
Du bist der Lenz, nach dem ich verlangte –
O süβeste Wonne! Seligstes Weib! –
War Wälse dein Vater, und bist du ein Wälsung –
Siegmund, den Wälsung, siehst du, Weib!
Gundula Janowitz, soprano
Jon Vickers, tenor
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

CD 2
Die Walküre:
So tatest du, was so gern zu tun ich begehrt’ –
Nicht streb’, o Maid, den Mut mir zu stören –
Leb’ wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind (Wotan’s Farewell)
Thomas Stewart, baritone
Régine Crespin, soprano
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Ewig war ich, ewig bin ich –
Dich lieb’ ich: o liebtest mich du! –
Lachend muß ich dich lieben
Helga Dernesch, soprano
Jess Thomas, tenor
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Zu neuen Taten, teurer Helde –
Mehr gabst du, Wunderfrau, als ich zu wahren weiß
Helga Dernesch, soprano
Helge Brilioth, tenor
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Schläfst du, Hagen, mein Sohn?
Zoltán Kelemen, bass
Karl Ridderbusch, bass
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan

Tristan und Isolde:
O sink’ hernieder, Nacht der Liebe
Einsam wachend in der Nacht –
Lausch’, Geliebter! –
Doch uns’re Liebe, heißt sie nicht Tristan und…Isolde?
So starben wir –
Rette dich, Tristan!
Tatest du’s wirklich? Wähnst du das?
Margaret Price, soprano
René Kollo, tenor
Brigitte Fassbaender, contralto
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Werner Götz, tenor
Kurt Moll, bass
Staatskapelle Dresden
Carlos Kleiber

Recording information

Executive Producers: Wolfgang Stengel (Der fliegende Holländer); Dr. Hans Hirsch, Dr. Rudolf Werner (Lohengrin); Günther Breest (Die Meistersinger, Parsifal); Dr. Hans Hirsch (Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde); Otto Gerdes (Der Ring des Nibelungen)
Recording Producers: Klaus Hiemann (Der fliegende Holländer); Hans Weber (Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger, Tannhäuser, Der Ring des Nibelungen); Michel Glotz (Parsifal); Werner Mayer (Tristan und Isolde)
Balance Engineers: Jürgen Bulgrin (Der fliegende Holländer); Heinz Wildhagen (Lohengrin); Klaus Scheibe, Klaus Hiemann, Hans-Peter Schweigmann (Die Meistersinger); Günter Hermanns (Tannhäuser, Der Ring des Nibelungen, Parsifal); Karl-August Naegler (Tristan und Isolde)
Recording Locations: Groβer Sendesaal, SFB, Berlin, Germany, February 1991 (Der fliegende Holländer); Herkulessaal, Residenz, Munich, Germany, April 1971 (Lohengrin); Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany, March–April 1976 (Die Meistersinger), December 1968 (Tannhäuser), December 1967 (Das Rheingold), August, September, December 1966 (Die Walküre), December 1968 and February 1969 (Siegfried), October & December 1969 and January 1970 (Götterdämmerung); Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany, January 1980 (Parsifal); Lukaskirche, Dresden, Germany, February 1981 (Tristan und Isolde)


‘a performance with the blast of the winds and whiff of the sea’ (Fliegende Holländer) Gramophone

‘the chivalrous James King will impress you as being one of the purest, most unidiosyncratic Lohengrins you’ll have heard’ (Lohengrin)Gramophone

‘Fischer-Dieskau’s interpretation is as musical, as richly varied, as intelligent as one could hope for … The great and unexpected revelation is Domingo’s Walther … he provides the most lyrically ardent Walther in any of the sets to date, seconding his conductor in his long-breathed, eloquent phrasing.’ (Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg) Gramophone

‘Nilsson rises to great heights … is predictably glorious in her pleading for mercy to be shown to her lover and Windgassen is equally good in his defiance and contrition’ (Tannhäuser) Gramophone

‘Helge Dernesch is at her very peak’ (Siegfried; Gotterdammerung) *** Penguin Guide

‘Fischer-Dieskau and Veasey establish their characters with amazing clarity and speed’ (Rheingold) Gramophone

‘Vickers is a passionate Siegmund … his performance is superb … and as he is in splendid voice the heroic moments are most exciting.’ (Die Walküre) Gramophone