1969 THE FINAL CONCERT
In his review of the 1969 closing Gala Concert with winners of the 16TH IVC, critic H.J.Z. observed that it was a very good concert, without a real highlight, that stood out above the rest.
Popular singers from the finals, such as Else Paaske and Walker Wyatt, had won their prizes foremost on the grounds of their interpretations in Lieder, their favored genre. In the Casino auditorium, with full orchestra, they had less opportunity to stand out in opera and oratoria arias. First Prize winner Maria Slătinaru was therefore at a clear advantage, although H.J.Z. thought she still lacked experience and depth; her singing of ‘Ritorna vincitor,’ and ‘Il est doux, il est bon’ was merely ‘beautiful singing.’ The ‘sympathetic and modest’ German tenor Karl Markus made the best of his means, while clearly being aware that this was not his preferred battle ground. Dutch bass Hubert Waber was rewarded for his courage to sing the difficult ‘Death scene’ from Boris Godunov, which reaped him the loudest applause of the evening, ‘even though he wasn’t completely up to the task yet.’ Maurice Brown, on the other hand, had no trouble at all with ‘La calunnia’ from Il barbiere di Siviglia, but his voice lacked volume. That left H.J.Z. with Leslie Johnson, whom he thought almost ready for a real Tannhäuser performance, since she looked the part, understood the role, and sang it convincing, although ‘still a bit unsteady.’
For lack of different viewpoints, this review is all there is. While perhaps being over critical in/and not taking into account that this was merely a haphazardly improvised concert of debutants, who had hardly any time to rehearse with the orchestra, it does tell us precisely where these singers were in their development.