Sebastian Feiersinger, Tenor (1913-1984)
Giuseppe Verdi UN BALLO IN MASCHERA
Forse la soglia attinse - Ma se m'e forza perderti (sung in german)
Conductor: Alberto Erede
My personal opinion: A rare abridged version of Verdi's UN BALLO IN MASCHERA with Birgit Nilsson under Alberto Erede brings us two surprises at once: It's in german language (as usual, La Nilsson is hard to understand) and the role of Riccardo is sung by an impressive unknown voice: The austrian tenor Sebastian Feiersinger (* 1913 in Tyrol), whose career has been slowed due to unfortunate circumstances: After two engagements at theaters in Heilbronn and Gablonz in Bohemia, Feiersinger was drafted for military service the first time. After a two year contract with Saarbrücken, military called him a second time. Then he was thirty-two, and it was only after 1945 that he could continue with his singing career (at the Landestheater in Salzburg). After that, he was under contract in Innsbruck (1947-49), Saarbrücken (1949-51), Wiesbaden (1951-53) and Graz (1953-54). Nuremberg would finally become his artistic home for more than twenty years (1954-1975). And because the general public gave him little attention, the great careers were made by others. In the 1950s, Bayreuth was occupied by Treptow, Suthaus, Windgassen and Vinay - Feiersinger tried his luck in San Francisco as TANNHÄUSER (1958) and Aegisth in ELEKTRA - both with great success. If you look at the picture of Sebastian Feiersinger, you may find a slight resemblance with Hans Hopf: A burly man with a strong character head. Similarities you will also find in his singing. Feiersinger's voice was a heroic tenor with a metallic core and remarkable sound power full of sonic energy. He could easily compete with Nilsson in the great Act II duet, which he ends with a radiant high C. On the other hand, he was a less differentiated singer. Maybe one reason, why his career at the Met lasted only a few months (I have no idea of his stage presence): Between January and March 1959, Feiersinger sang in four of five performances Walther von Stolzing in Wagner's MEISTERSINGER (all led by Karl Böhm). Rudolf Bing replaced him with Albert Da Costa (one of three Tristan tenors in the famous 1959 Met-performance with Birgit Nilsson). Feiersinger's last appearance was broadcasted, the recording is available on CD. Right at the beginning (in the church scene), Feiersinger is wild and impetous: "Mein Fräulein sagt, seid ihr schon Braut?" he asked without charm and restraint. With this, he ignored the wonderful intimate interludes of oboe and bassoon that Wagner composed between the choral sentences. His Stolzing is a little bit rough, and his articulation also indistinct; the counterpart to the lyrical perceptions of Schock and Kónya, the best Stolzing on records in the underrated Kubelik performance with Thomas Stewart as Sachs and Gundula Janowitz as Eva.
Feiersinger finally came to Bayreuth to sing Vogelsang in 1968 and one year later Balthasar Zorn. The career of this Wagner singer extended mainly in foreign countries: Siegmund in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo 1954 and 1959, Beethoven's Florestan in Amsterdam 1959, Tristan 1960 in Marseille, 1961 in Monte Carlo and Bologna, 1962 in Baltimore. He repeated Tristan in 1963 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Tannhäuser 1962 in Naples and Parsifal the same year in Vichy. He sang Tristan also in Madrid 1965 at age 52 and later Melot in Tokyo. So many times the most difficult role ever written for a tenor - but we always associate Tristan with Melchior, Lorenz, Suthaus, Vinay, Windgassen and Vickers. Who would have ever thought of Feiersinger?
With increasing age, he changed to character parts. In Germany he sang at the Opera Houses of Hannover, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, but nobody ever offered him a worthwhile record deal. Therefore it is not surprising, he even remained unknown to experts. He left us only a few recordings (BALLO, JENUFA, LE VILLI, MEISTERSINGER) - too little to be remembered, but enough to recall him once again. Sebastian Feiersinger died 1984 in Nuremberg.