Hermann Jadlowker (1877-1953) was an extraordinary Latvian tenor, whose career encompassed the opera stage, concert platform and the Synagogue. Born in Riga, Jadlowker joined the choir of the Great Choral Synagogue at the age of 12 and received his first vocal training there. Intent on becoming a singer, he was constantly at odds with his father, who wished for his son to enter the business world. Jadlowker left home at the age of 16, making his way to Vienna, where he was taken under the wing of Chazzan Mayer Schorr. Schorr, father of famed baritone Friedrich Schorr, was the senior cantor of Vienna’s Temple Beth Israel and accepted the young tenor into the Synagogue’s choir. In addition to his duties as a chorister, Jadlowker was pursuing studies at the Vienna Conservatory. Following his graduation in the spring of 1897, the 20-year-old tenor travelled to Cologne to make his operatic debut. The role was a small one…Vasco the shepherd… in Conradin Kreutzer's now forgotten opera Das Nachtlager von Granada.
During the course of the next few seasons, Jadlowker sang with regional companies in Grmany and Austria including the theaters of Karlsruhe and Stettin. He also graduated to leading roles, among them Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, des Grieux in Manon, the Duke in Rigoletto, Manrico in Il Trovatore, Gerard in Lakmé, Don José in Carmen and the title role in Faust. When Kaiser Wilhelm II heard Jadlowker, he invited the tenor to the Hofoper Berlin (now the Berlin Staatsoper). This would prove to be a long and satisfying association for Jadlowker, who remained with the company as principal tenor from 1901 to 1919. The tenor also appeared in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Vienna, Amsterdam, Prague and other major world opera centers during this period.
Jadlowker’s Metropolitan Opera debut took place on January 22, 1910 as Gounod’s Faust. During his two seasons with the company, he sang 89 performances of 14 operas, including Faust, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Tosca, Pagliacci, Cavalleria Rusticana, Falstaff, The Bartered Bride, Der Freischütz and Lohengrin. Jadlowker also sang the U.S. premieres of Wolf-Ferrari’s Le Donne Curiose, Ludwig Thuille’s Lobetanz and Leo Blech’s Versiegelt as well as the world premiere of Humperdinck’s Königskinder Although reviews were mostly positive, Jadlowker was simply shuffled to the background in the Caruso dominated company. Following a performance of Königskinder on March 16, 1912, Jadlowker left the Met, essentially bringing down the curtain on his international career.
Jadlowker returned to Germany, where he divided his time primarily between Karlsruhe and Berlin. He was Bacchus in the world premiere of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos in in Stuttgart in 1912 as well as at the Berlin premiere a year later. The tenor’s repertoire expanded, encompassing the leads in La Juive, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Le Muette de Portici, Mignon, Fidelio, Parsifal, Don Carlo, L’Africaine and the title role in Verdi’s Otello. Following the war, Jadlowker’s operatic appearances dwindled as he concentrated more and more on concerts and recitals. In 1929, he abandoned his performing career to accept a position as principal cantor at the Great Choral Synagogue…the hometown temple where he had begun singing as a boy nearly 40 years earlier. Within a few years, unfortunately, the Nazi regime and the wave of anti-Semitism had poisoned much of Europe and Jadlowker felt compelled to resign his post and leave his homeland. In 1938, Jadlowker emigrated from Latvia to Palestine, eventually making his way to Tel Aviv where he became an Israeli citizen. The tenor continued giving charity concerts and teaching up to the time of his death in 1953.
Hermann Jadlowker left a legacy of over 230 discs, recorded between 1907 and 1927 for Odeon, Victor, Polydor and the Gramophone Company. These recordings are a marvel to behold. The technical proficiency one hears in these performances is absolutely stunning. The precision of Jadlowker’s fioratura and trills have never been surpassed by any tenor in the history of the gramophone. In this recording, Jadlowker sings a German language version of the finale to Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, "Tu, che a Dio spiegasti l'ali". This was recorded for the Odeon label in Berlin in August of 1916.