The Very Best of Fritz Wunderlich
EMI Classics, 2003
The Very best of Fritz Wunderlich is a double disc set dedicated to the German tenor who, despite his untimely death (he died at thirty six-years-old when he passed away in 1966), has left an indelible mark in the history of opera. He is best remembered for his magnificent and luminous voice, exquisite taste and elegant, apparently endless phrasing.
The music collected here is wide and varied and covers almost the entire repertoire of Wunderlich, providing a selection of rarities and more famous arias: for example, we have the opportunity to listen to Flotow’s most famous aria from the opera Martha, Ach so fromm, together with Dies Bidnis from Die Zauberflote, the execution of which can be hardly overcome. I would notice in passing that Tamino was Wunderlich’s debut role, in Freiburg, in 1954, and that the tenor is remembered above all for his mozartian roles, which are testified here also by Don Ottavio’s aria from Don Giovanni.
Then, you will listen to arias from Boïeldieu’s La dame blanche, from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, from Lortzing’s Zar und Zimmermann, Massenet’s Manon and Lehár’s Der Zarewitsch, but there is also a testimony of Wunderlich’s sporadic incursions in Wagnerian music with Der Fliegende Holländer. One of the most beautiful arias, however, remains the famous Ombra mai fu from Handel’s Xerxes, which is simply touching. All this contributes to make this EMI selection a valuable and important homage paid to a great artist and, more modestly, a pleasure for the listener.
At last, I remind you that all the pieces are sung in German, as it was usual at the time.