1960 THE WINNERS
|1st prize||ƒ 1000, the medal of Muziekstad Den Bosch, a diploma, a concert with the Brabant Orchestra, a KRO Radio broadcast.|
|2nd prize||ƒ 500, a diploma, a concert with the Brabant Orchestra, a KRO Radio broadcast.|
|Den Bosch Prize||An award for the best singer in the competition|
|Dutch Opera prize||A performance with the Dutch National Opera|
|Young Talent prize||ƒ 500 Study allowance|
|Honorary diploma||Honorary diploma|
|GREAT PRIZE OF THE CITY OF DEN BOSCH|
|AALTJE NOORDEWIER-REDDINGIUS PRIZE|
|1st prize||Lise Arséguet||Soprano||FR|
|2nd prize||Irene Torbus-Mierzwiak||Soprano||PL|
|KATHLEEN FERRIER PRIZE|
|JACQUES URLUS PRIZE|
|2nd prize||John Wakefield||Tenor||UK|
|2nd prize||Sigurdur Björnsson||Tenor||ISL|
|JOS ORELIO PRIZE|
|1st prize||Károly Schmidt||Bass||HUN|
|2nd prize||Bert Olsson||Baritone||NL|
|“TOONKUNST” ENCOURAGEMENT PRIZE|
|DUTCH OPERA PRIZE|
The career of the Hungarian bass Károly Schmidt (1929 – ?) started in Austria, where he had found refuge after having fled there during the Hungarian Counterrevolution. He made his stage debut in Sazburg, as a ast minute replacment in the role of Alfonso, in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Following, he was engaged at the Vienna State Opera for two years, before becoming a member of the Mozarteum Salzburg, where he is currently engaged. According to critic Leo Hoost in Haagsche Courant, Schmidt’s interpretations of a Mussorgsky aria and a song by Wolf, were of rare artistic and vocal merit:
‘Schmidt’s timbre is a mild perfection, his diction is winning, and it is nuanced and delves deep into the psychology of the character portrayed.’ .
Regarding his discography, there is some confusion over a 1958 live recording of Don Carlo, with the Vienna State opera performing in Salzburg, under Herbert von Karajan, with a certain… Carlo Schmidt in the cast. Given the date, which matches his engagement there, one would imagine Von Karajan’s Conte di Lerma to be the IVC’s Károly. Since Lerma is a tenor role, this seems highly unlikely, unless as a last minute improviso. That Károly sung under the name of Carlo Schmidt is certain, since he does appear as the bass Carlo Schmidt in Ernst Hinreiner’s 1962 recording of Haydn’s Schöpfungsmesse, with Maria Taborsky, and 1959 IVC winner Julia Falk (LP Musica Sacra AMS 35). Other than that, Schmidt recorded an untraceable 1965 Ady Records LP with Hungarian Folk Song settings by Kodály and Bartók, again with Julia Falk.
‘There was also a remarkable Française. She could not excel in her Rameau aria, but she impressed with two very difficult, large and melodious compositions of Olivier Messiaen. Execeptional also to see someone breaking ground for a contemporary composer.’ (Leo Hanekroot, De Tijd, September 1960)
‘The Jury of the 7th IVC made a strong impression by awarding French soprano Lise Arséguet the first Prize. During the semi finals she ahd already stunned us with two remarkable composition of Olivier Messiaen,and in the finals she gave first rank interpetations of compositions by Roussel, Poulenc and Menotti. (Johan van Dongen, Eindhoven’s Dagblad, September 1960)
Even the supporters of rival soprano Irene Torbus-Mierzwiak agreed that, judging on lines of artistry and interpretation, French soprano Lise Arséguet fully deserved her First Prize. She had first impressed the Jury during the semi finals, with two works by contemporary composer Olivier Messiaen (whose music would soon become her calling card). During the finals, she impressed with a daring selection of contemporary compositions. An excerpt of François Poulenc’s Stabat Mater followed Albert Roussel’s ‘Sarabande’; Arséguet concluded her test with an aria from Giancarlo Menotti’s opera The consul. Even if that is not the material for an international career in popular opera, the Jury explicitly stated by word of President Manus Willemsen, that artistry had been this year’s prime criterion. Therefore it would be odd to measure the weight of Lise Arséguet’s career only in terms of popularity with a wider audience. Rather, I refer here to the fame she achieved as n interpreter of contemporary music, often in direct contact with composers. Even if her discography is likewise modest, we gladly let Olivier Messiaen speak for her; he chose Arséguet her for the landmark 1964 recording of his song cycle ‘Poèmes pour mi,’ with himself on the piano.
Olivier Messiaen: ‘Poèmes pour mi’ (excerpt)
Lise Arséguet (soprano), Olivier Messiaen (piano) (LP Deutsche Harmonia Mundi HMO 30.543)
2ND PRIZE WINNERS
'Irene Torbus-Mierzwiak did only win the 2nd Prize among sopranos, but she also became the very first winner of the Dutch National Opera prize. A rather vague Prize, since all it meant was the promise of 'a future' engagement' with the Dutch National Opera. There was no date mentioned, since a suitable production first has to be established. Given teh sopranos native language, options are further limited and it seems unwise of the Dutch NAtional Opera board to promise things that will most likely never materizlize. Artistically it is also rather pretentious to award a vocalist as best operatic talent on the basis of a single aria performance. The specialist in this matter had better left their conclusions to themselves.' (Wouter Paap, Mens & Melodie, October 1960)
Polish soprano Irene Torbus-Mierzwiak proved a serious rival to Lise Arséguet’s First Prize, and some among the press and the audience also supported her candidacy, the first in writings, and the latter by means of clamorous applause after her performance at the concluding Gala Concert of September 13, 1960. During the finals she had already mesmerized the audience, with ravishing performances of ‘Quia respectit,’ from bach’s Magnificat, a Tchaikovsky song, and a Polish language reading of ‘Wie nahte mich der Schlummer,’ from Weber’s Der Freischütz. Gérard Verlinden proved impressed in De Volkskrant: ‘Wat a ripe technique, what a splendid vocal material!’ Most peculiarly, her only known recording is on the Czech Surpaphon label, and it gives her name in Czech spelling, as Torbus–Mierzwiakova. The work performed is Kabelac’s ‘Euphemias Mysterion:’
Kabelac: ‘Euphemias Mysterion’ (sample)
Irene Torbus–Mierzwiakova (soprano), Prague Chamber Soloists – Eduard
Fischer (LP Supraphon SUA ST 58851
‘Among basses, Bert Olsson was another fine surprise. As one of the youngest finalists, even n one in The Netherlands had yet heard of him. With courage and power, he performed a song by Schumann, and arias by Mendelssohn and Leoncavallo. A winning debut before an audience.’
At the age of 20, Bert Olsson (1934, Amsterdam) started his vocal studies with Coby Riemersma, and has graduated from the Opera class of the Conservatory of Amsterdam. His Second Prize was considered even more special, given the fierce competition in that section for this year. In the semi final he appeared among others with ‘Ich Grolle nicht,’ in which he surpassed himself during the finals. Excellent there, was also his repeated Pagliacci prologue, ‘Si può,’ and these efforts reaped him the first prize awarded to a Dutch singer in two years. The 26 years old son of a labor class family had to take Dutch pronunciation lessons, to get to Den Bosch:
‘I was just a simple guy from Amsterdam. My youth was not very easy, but my father and mother have given me everything possibly. Hen friends of my father told him that I had a promising voice, my father looked in the telephone book for a voice teacher. I ended up with Jan Keizer. When he felt that he couldn’t get through to me, it was Keizer himself who told me that it would be better if I tried another teacher, and he recommended Coby Riemersma. She formed me to who I am now, she taught me Dutch pronunciation, and taught me how to sing. I owe her big time. Later I made it to the Opera Class of Felix Hupka and prof. Altman, who pointed me in the right direction. I then sang in the Capital’s Operetta and did some other artistic handicraft work, since I needed to live from something. You will not believe it, but to make it to Den Bosch, I really had to borrow money. I would never have guessed that I would win a prize here. Contracts? No, there aren’t any, although the Dutch National Opera has contacted me.’ (Interview with Bert Olsson, unidentified newspaper clipping).(Interview with Bert Olsson, unidentified newspaper clipping).
The article further informs us that Olsson’s prime interest is in opera, a genre he would onwards frequently appear in. In De Volkskrant, Gérard Verlinden added that with Olsson, the IVC had made one of those discoveries that justified the event as such. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, his voice could frequently be heard on Dutch and also Flemish Radio, in opera broadcast appearances. In Flanders he appeared with the Royal Flemish Opera, among others in a 1974 Simon Boccanegra performance, with Olsson in the title role:
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra ‘M'ardon le tempia’ (ACT II) [Sung in Dutch]
Bert Olsson (Simon Boccanegra), orchestra of the Royal Flemish opera,
Antwerp, 1974 (private recording from the 401DutchDivas archives)
He participated in the creation of the notorious 1969 world premiere of the opera Reconstructie, a joint composer’s effort by Reinbert de Leeuw, Peter Schat, Micha Mengelberg, Jan van Vlijmen and Louis Andriessen, on a libretto by Harry Mulisch and Hugo Claus.
Reinbert de Leeuw, Peter Schat, Micha Mengelberg, Jan van Vlijmen and Louis Andriessen: Reconstructie ‘X is for the unknown’
Bert Olsson (Don Juan), Instrumental Ensemble conducted by all 5 composers, Holland Festival, 1969 (LP STEIM Opus 001)
‘The tenor section did surprisingly well. One them readily won our hearts, an Englishman by the name of John Wakefield. Beyond any doubt, this is a veritable star, a true lyric tenor, large, radiant and strong, as well as immaculately trained with a remarkable diction and the utmost musicality. He is the favorite.’ (Leo Hanekroot on the Semi finals in De Tijd, September 1960.)
‘John Wakefield was a true discovery, a genuine lyric tenor and not an idle note juggler at that, but a min of style and taste, a veritable musician.’ (Leo Hanekroot, De Tijd, September 1960)
English tenor John Wakefield was born as John Darling, on June 21, 1936, Yorkshire, UK. He later called himself Wakefield after his birthplace. He first became a pharmacist, before turning to singing professionally. John was honored to receive the Kathleen Ferrier Scholarship in 1958. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London, with IVC Jury members Roy Henderson (IVC Jury 1954 onwards), and Ettore Campogalliani (IVC Jury 1962) in Mantua. In September 1960, Wakefield participated in the IVC Den Bosch, where more than one critic had wished for him a First Prize, rather than the Second Prize. In the words of Johan van Dongen:
‘A First Prize for tenors seems difficult to hand out for the Jury, since I was sure that John Wakefield was headed straight for the great Jacques Urlus Prize. In Verdi’s ‘Ingemisco’, a song by John Williams, and ‘Cielo e mar’ from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda he surpassed even his already strong performance of the semi finals.’
Following his Second Prize in Den Bosch, Wakefield made a 1961 debut with the Welch Opera as Levko in Rimsky Korsakov’s May Night. Subsequently he had a major career as one of England’s prime tenors, a career which established itself foremost on the stages of Covent Garden, and the festivals of Glyndebourne (from 1964-1988), and Aldeburgh. In 1970 he participated in the English premiere of Hindemith’s Cardillac, with the New Opera Company London. He was invited to the Teatro Colón Buenos Ayres, sang further in Brussels, and Lyon, Gärtnerplatz Theatre in Munich, the Santa Fé Opera, and at the Drottningholm Festival. Wakefield became a creator when he participated in the 1971 World premieres of Nicholas Maw’s The Rising of the Moon, at Glyndebourne, and Heitor Villa-Lobos opera Yerma, in Santa Fé. Of the more important revivals in his career we mention the once famous Leseuer opera Ossian ou les bardes, in which Wakefield sings the title role on some Unique Opera Records excerpts. Another major recreation was the title role in Méhul’s Uthal, in a 1972 BBC broadcast. In 1987 he was the protagonist in Cavalli’s L’Ormindo, at Glyndebourne, 1988 Tichon in Janacek’s Katja Kabanova. His lyric tenor voice shone brightest in Mozart, baroque, and modern music. His career has included roles like Macduff, Glyndebourne, 1964 and Rinuccio, the Royal Opera House, 1965. Other roles include: Feton, Tamino, Paris, Don Ottavio, Ferrando, Belmonte, Idamante, Rodolfo, Orfeo, Ormindo, Essex and Saul. Among others, he has recorded La traviata, Ormindo, The Mikado and Messiah.
Händel: ReconstructieMessiah ‘Comfort ye my people’
John Wakefield (tenor), London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus - Sir Colin
Davis (LP/CD Philips)
Cavalli: ReconstructieL’Ormindo ACT II ‘Ahi spiro la mia vira’
John Wakefield (Ormindo), London Philharmonic Orchestra - Raymond
Leppard (LP IVC 25-YEARS)
Post career Wakefield became director of the opera studio at Trinity College, London. In 2012 he recorded a Children’s CD, ‘John Wakefield’s A Curious Children’s Album.
YOUNG TALENT PRIZE ‘TOONKUNST’
Tine de Bree
‘By far the best singer of the competition’ (Leo Riemens, De Telegraaf, September 1960)
‘In my opinion (and those of many others), the best male vocalist in the competition was the phenomenal Irish bass Harold Gray. His is a unique sounding voice, with a technical security that made the most dazzling coloraturas of Händel’s arias sound as if they were sung by a soprano leggiero’ (Leo Riemens, De Telegraaf, September 1960)
After years where former Second prizewinners successfully reentered the IVC in order to obtain a First prize, the 1960’s mainly saw a sequence of les successful attempts to upgrade previous results there. English bass Harold Gray had won Second prize in the Jos Orelio category in 1959, but amidst an exceptionally competitive field of the 1960 event, especially in the bass and baritone section, he was given no more than an Honorary Diploma. An ill advised choice for Sarastro’s aria ‘O Isis und Osiris,’ which didn’t fit his vocal range very well, almost prevented him from reaching the finals, but he made up for that with fine performances of Händel and Schubert.
Händel The Messiah ‘Thus said the Lord… But who may abide the day’
Harold Gray (bass), Brabant Orchestra conducted by Hein Jordans, Casino
Den Bosch, IVC Gala Concert, September 14, 1959.
Halina Jankowska (s – PO)
Jindřich Jindrák (Prague, CZECH)
Johan van Dongen judged Schubert’s ‘Doppelgänger’ as baritone Jindřich Jindrák’s best performance during the finals, and the critic of Algemeen Dagblad thought him at least equal to First prize winner and best singer of the competition, Károly Schmidt. Even though he received but an Honorary Diploma, Jindrák used it to best avail, since from 1960 onwards, his career in Czechoslovakia boomed. He became a star with the Prague National Opera, and through LP recordings on the Supraphon label, as well as through preserved radio and Czech Television broadcasts, dozens of his appearances have been preserved for posterity. In 1960, he was King Matyá in Dvorak’s King and Charcoal Burner. In 1961 he was The peasant in Dvorak’s Cunning Peasant. In 1962 he appeared in Smetana’s The Brandenburgers in Bohemia (on CD). With the Prague National Opera he appeared in Edinburgh, 1964, where he sang King Vladislav in Smetana’s Libuse. There is a 1964 video of him as Tomeš in Smetana’s The kiss. In 1965 he recorded Dvorak’s ‘Biblical songs’ for Supraphon, followed in 1969 by Jiri Pauers Little Red Riding Hood. From 1970, there’s a broadcast recording of his as Premysl in Fibich’s Sarka. There are videos of Krušina in Smetana’s the bartered bride (1971), and as Bohouš z Harasova in Dvorak’s Jacobin (1974).
Soo-Bee Lee (s – Singapore)
‘Opera-goers with memories long enough to date back to the 1960s will not have forgotten the enchantingly pretty Chinese soprano Soo Bee Lee as Damigella, the serving maid in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea at Glyndebourne. Her flirtatious duet with Valetto, the page, sung by the tenor Duncan Robertson, regularly brought forth a storm of applause from enraptured audiences for three years running, in 1962, 1963 and 1964. The old auditorium at Glyndebourne made a perfect framework for Soo Bee Lee, whose delicate voice was well projected and whose diction was exemplary.’ (Elizabeth Forbes, The Independent, Soo Bee Lee obituary, 2005)
All we currently know of French baritone Jacques Villisech, is that he had a considerable career in France, given that our archives hold a handful of broadcast recordings from Austria and France, and a similar number of official releases. Judging on Volkskrant critic Gérard Verlinden, Villisech might have reached further, had he not brought a young female dilettante as his accompanist of choice, rather than using either Georges van Renesse or Gérard van Blerk. Villisech’s first traceable French broadcast was in a small part in the January 1960 transmission of Milhaud’s ‘opéras minute’ L'enlèvement d'Europe, L'abandon d'Ariane, and La dèlivrance de Thésée. Just a few months prior to his IVC participation, he was Le Chancelier in André Messager’s once very popular opéra comique La Basoche, again for French Radio (CD Musicdisc). At the IVC finals, he distinguished himself with a ravishing reading of a song by Fauré, and critic Leo Hoost of Haagsche Courant duly noted that he was underrated with merely an Honorary Diploma. In 1963, he was the Sacerdote in Mozart’s Idomeneo, conducted by Peter Maag in Aix en Provence, and Buff in a broadcast of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor, from Vienna. The latter also featured Mimi Coertze and Waldemar Kmennt, while André Rieu senior conducted. From there on Villisech’s career progressed. First he recorded Bach’s cantatas Actus Tragicus, and Himmelskönig, sei wilkommen, for Telefunken, with Bert van ‘t Hoff as tenor, and IVC 1959 winner Julia Falk. This release was followed by 1964 recordings of Bach’s cantatas Tritt auf den Glaubensbahn, O Jesu Christ mein Lebenslicht, Gleich wie Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt. In this series Villisech was again accompanied by Dutch tenor Bert van ‘t Hoff, now with Agnes Giebel as soprano. Of additional interest is that a young Frans Brüggen played recorder on both recordings, and Gustav Leonhardt organ, which was also the case for the first original instruments recording of Bach’s Johannes Passion, in 1966, with Villisech as Pilate, later IVC winner Max van Egmond as Jesus, Kurt Equiluzas Evangelist, Bert van’t Hoff as Servant, and a young Nicolaus Harnoncourt on cello and viola da gamba!
Bach:Actus Tragicus ‘Bestelle dein Haus’ (fragment)
Jacques Villisech (bass), Leonhardt-Consort, Montevedi Chor Hamburg –
Jürgen Jürgens (1963/2003 CD Teldec 2564 69599-2)
Fascinating is Villisech’s appearance as Valerius Publicola in a historic performance of Méhul’s once famous heroic opera Horace Coclès, of which we present a rare excerpt here:
Méhul: Horace Coclès 'Les victoires' 'Les victoires'
Orchestra Radio-Lyrique de l'ORTF – Yves prin, 1960’s.