Gundula Janowitz (born August 2, 1937 in Berlin, Germany) is an Austrian lyric soprano singer of operas, oratorios and concerts. She is one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century and was pre-eminent in the 1960s and 1970s. Janowitz grew up in Graz, Austria, where she became a naturalised Austrian. She studied at the Graz Conservatory in Austria, and had already begun to sing at the highest level by the end of the 1950s (Haydn's The Creation, with Herbert von Karajan in 1960). In 1959, Karajan engaged her as Barbarina in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at the Vienna State Opera, of which she became a permanent member in 1962. In the 1960s and 1970s, she became one of the most popular singers in her field internationally and she developed a comprehensive and widely-followed discography of works ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to Richard Strauss, in cooperation with the most prominent conductors (her mentor at times, Karajan, as well as Otto Klemperer, Eugen Jochum, Leonard Bernstein, Rafael Kubelík, Karl Böhm, Georg Solti, Carlos Kleiber, etc.) Gundula Janowitz's voice is distinguished by its very bright, pure, crystalline, tremolo-free sound with tight, rapid vibrato, and by her even breathing technique. She kept her youthful, angelic tone and freshness well into her mature years. Like her predecessors, Elisabeth Grümmer and Maria Stader, who had similar timbre to hers, and like her contemporary, Elizabeth Harwood, Janowitz mastered first and foremost the high and middle register and lyrical-emotional expression. Despite her comparatively weak sound projection, she occasionally performed in dramatic roles (Sieglinde, Leonore, Elsa) or comic roles (Marzelline, Rosalinde), but she was most highly regarded as Fiordiligi, Countess Almaviva, Pamina, Agathe, Arabella, Ariadne, the Angel Gabriel (The Creation), and Countess Madeleine, and in sacred music. She was also a leading interpreter of Richard Strauss "Four Last Songs". With a few exceptions, she avoided foreign-language roles (although recordings exist of her singing Don Carlos and Verdi's Requiem and all three Mozart/DaPonte operas in Italian). An excerpt of her portrayal of the Figaro Countess in a duet with Swiss soprano Edith Mathis features prominently in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption...
Lyrics & English Translation
Solitudes friendly, breezes amourouse
lovely flowers and blossoming plants listen
the unhappy laments of her lover
Who forsaken confides in you.
How much it costs my afflicted heart
to hide my love afflicts my heart
Zephyrs gently caressing
Oh fly to my beloved
And tell him that I adore him
and keep his heart faithful.
and you plants, and flowers tender
which my bitter tears water
tell him that a love more rare
never saw beneath the sky
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I send my kind and warm regards,