German-American contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1861-1936), one of the great singers from the so-called "Golden Age of Opera", in Mignon's romanza, "Connais-tu le pays?" (sung here in German as "Kennst du das Land") from Thomas' Mignon. The recording was made for Victor in July 1907.
The following biographical profile of Schumann-Heink comes from Cantabile-subito ("She was born as Tini Rössler in Prague. Among her teachers was Giovanni Battista Lamperti. She made her début at the Dresden opera as Azucena in 1878 which was not very successful because of her lacking stage experience. But there were hopeful signs in her singing. In the next season she made consistent progress in vocal technique and soon she began to reveal a unique individuality in her vocal category. After marriage to Ernst Heink, the impresario Pollini engaged her to Hamburg where she stayed until 1897. She was a much acclaimed Erda, Fricka, Waltraute and Brangäne and performed the roles with Gustav Mahler at Covent Garden. In 1893, after divorce from first husband, she married the actor Paul Schumann. A very close relationship to Bayreuth's Festival lasted from 1896 to 1914. Cosima Wagner was very fond of the artist and admired her greatly. She became a regular member of the Metropolitan from 1898 to 1903. By then she had begun series of popular cross-country American concert tours that made her into a national legend. Her huge repertory included about 150 roles! Her English and American stage career was mainly centered on Wagner. Her farewell performance was at the Met in 1932 as Erda, one of her greatest achievements on stage."
Watch videos with other singers performing Connais tu le pays:
Connais-tu le pays où fleurit l'oranger? Le pays des fruits d'or et des roses vermeilles, Où la brise est plus douce et l'oiseau plus léger, Où dans toute saison butinent les abeilles, Où rayonne et sourit, comme un bienfait de Dieu, Un éternel printemps sous un ciel toujours bleu! Hélas! Que ne puis-je te suivre Vers ce rivage heureux d'où le sort m'exila! C'est là ! c'est là que je voudrais vivre, Aimer, aimer et mourir!
Connais-tu la maison où l'on m'attend là -bas? La salle aux lambris d'or, où des hommes de marbre M'appellent dans la nuit en me tendant les bras? Et la cour où l'on danse à l'ombre d'un grand arbre? Et le lac transparent où glissent sur les eaux Mille bateaux légers pariels à des oiseaux! Hélas! Que ne puis-je te suivre Vers ce pays lointain d'où le sort m'exila! C'est là ! c'est là que je voudrais vivre, Aimer, aimer et mourir!