A good many years ago (too many to remember) I was given tickets for a Halle concert at the old Free Trade Hall in Manchester. I was very keen to go as the main work was Neilsons 4th Symphony (The Inextinguishable), a work I had recently discovered and wished to see performed live.
I paid little heed to the rest of the concert programme and went along on the night with high anticipation of the Neilson. I think the concert started with an overture, but I forget what, and unusually I do not recall the name of the conductor that evening.
Then came a piece of music I was not familiar with, the 4 Last Songs by Richard Strauss and sung by a young lady by the name of Amanda Roocroft, who I think, was making her debut with the Halle Orchestra.
Just over twenty five minutes later I sat transfixed at what I had just heard, and thought to myself “that is the best voice I have heard since first hearing Jessye Norman” in the same repertoire.
Of course Amanada Roocroft has gone on to international fame and has performed at many of the world leading opera houses and festivals including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Glyndebourne Festival, the English National Opera, the Welsh National Opera, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Netherlands Opera and the Salzburg Festival. She has played many roles but became associated with the operas of Leos Janacek particularly ‘Katya Kabanova’ and ‘Jenufa’.
She won the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera for her performance as Jenufa with the English National Opera.
Having conducted a search I am unable to find a performance of her singing the 4 Last Songs so I am posting her singing the famous “Song to the Moon” aria from Dvoraks opera Rusalka.
And just for good measure I am also posting a recording of “ Im Abendrot” from 4 Last Songs sung by Jessye Norman, considered by many to be the definitive performance of this sensual and emotional music. Listen to both, and revel in the stunning voices of these two ladies………the singing is simply sublime.