It’s been a month now, but I didn’t learn about until today. My beloved German soprano Anneliese Rothenberger passed away one month ago. She’s the one who opened the doors to opera for me, when I was 11. It was then that I started going to record stores and scout for new music to discover – there was a lot to discover for me at that age! During school holidays, My father would take me to the Fnac, this giant music store in the centre of Paris and I would spend the whole day marvelling and getting overwhelmed about all the musical treasures I never thought existed in records. I remember how the name of Anneliese Rothenberger immediately sounded very inviting to me. Why her and not another opera diva, someone more flashy or obvious like Maria Callas or Joan Sutherland? I can’t say. One possible theory is that since I was learning German at the time, I was also more interested in German operas. And she recorded a tremendous amount of them. Another theory is that most these opera primadonas looked quite wild and frightening to me, like singing Medusas. Anneliese Rothenberger on the other hand, would be smiling and giving out a sense of warmth – and yet, still retain a sense of dignity in spite of the kitsch outfits she had to wear for the covers! There was some sense of enjoyment and easiness that comforted me, I guess… Perfect for the young boy I was. As a novice, I was introduced to Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail, Humperdinck’s Hänsel & Gretel, Johann Strauss’ Fledermaus, Lortzing’s Undine, Richard Strauss’ Rosenkavalier and Arabella… One thing led to another and I soon got familiar with other performers and other works. I had started to dig into my parents’ music library and would play records at random. ‘Where did you get that music from?’ my mother would always ask as she would be cooking in the kitchen. My father wouldn’t say much, but he certainly was witnessing my growing interest for music with quiet satisfaction.
Each time I would request a recording of such and such work, I would be sure he’d come home with the prized item.
So Anneliese Rothenberger is gone. I wanted to write her a letter, just to tell her how much happiness she had brought in my life in music. Never did, eternal regrets!
|Anneliese Rothenberger in her favourite role of Sophie|
in Richard Strauss' Rosenkavalier