Part III: Rare and unknown voices. Please discuss this artist with your comments!
Mimi Coertse, Soprano (born 1932)
Giovanni Paisiello - LA MOLINARA (aka L`AMOR CONSTRASTATO)
Nel cor piu non mi sento (Rachelina´s aria)
(Recording date unknown to me)
My personal opinion: There are several relevant books about great singers, but you will hardly find the name of South-Africa born Mimi Coertse (Daughter of french-german parents). A strange fact in view of her longstanding membership to the Vienna State Opera House - and in view of countless unforgetable performances she gave there. After her retirement, Karl Löbl, the cultural editor and head of the Department of Culture at the Austrian ORF, wrote a public love-letter to Mimi Coertse: "I have pleasant memories of your distinctive timbre and your sweet but never too sentimental voice. This voice could convey situations, fates of women, and feelings in a realistic way: When Mimi Coertse sang and acted the distraction of Lucia, the despair of Norma, the grief of Konstanze, the threatening doll-like appearance of Olympia or the fear of death of Violetta, the audience was deeply moved. Also the part of Nedda, the Fiakermilli, Gilda and Donna Anna and so on. I find myself discovering more and more roles that Mimi Coertse sang at the Vienna State Opera and in Graz. Many people came to the opera because of her virtuous and fascinating singing. The people wanted to hear her sing again and again."
In my record-collection I found some old treasures in which Coertse gave remarkable performances: In BASTIEN AND BASTIENNE (Ebert), as Gilda in RIGOLETTO alongside the underrated tenor Karl Terkal (Martin) and as Fiakermilli in Soltis timeless production of ARABELLA with Lisa della Casa and George London. Although Löbl described her soprano as "sweet", I hear some shrill notes - especially in her ARABELLA-scene of Act 2 (Coertse was only 25) with the yodelling-cadenza, but undoubtful she combined vocal virtuosity with charming expression, a quality that is almost lost. After her first season with the State Opera, she appeared at Covent Garden and Salzburg, later she performed in Cologne, Glyndebourne, Athens, Aix-en-Provence, Bruxelles, Barcelone, Palermo, Berlin and Geneve. Mimi Coertse was one of the very few, who sang and acted all three female parts in LES CONTES D´HOFFMANN (1962 in South Africa, season 1967/68 in Vienna). The same year she enjoyed a great triumph when she sang the title role in DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU. In Vienna she appeared 469 times in 27 different roles, but today she´s almost forgotten to a wider audience - maybe her discography is too small.
She was presented with the Medal of Honour for Music by the South African Academy of Science and Art on 17 May 1961, and on 5 October 1966 the President of the Austrian Republic bestowed on her the title of Kammersängerin. Thus, within ten years of the commencement of her career, the two countries that most benefited from her vocal art, acknowledged and rewarded her exceptional achievements.
For this posting I would like to suggest her short but wonderful performance of the cavatina "Nel cor piu non mi sento" from Act 2 of Paisiello´s rare opera LA MOLINARA (1788), a melody later varied by other composer for their own works (Franz Schubert used it in WINTERREISE). Mimi Coertse was an efficient soprano, but unfortunately her only recording which received worldwide attention was Solti´s ARABELLA. Much too little for an artist, who was firmly established in the famous Vienna Ensemble after World War 2.
THE COMPLETE OVERVIEW: GO TO ALL SINGERS IN THIS LIST