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 »  Home  »  Music  »  Carla Martinis 1922-2010 Croatian opera star in Vienna
 »  Home  »  In Memoriam  »  Carla Martinis 1922-2010 Croatian opera star in Vienna
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Carla Martinis 1922-2010 Croatian opera star in Vienna
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  11/15/2010 | Music , In Memoriam , Education , Culture And Arts | Unrated
The best Karajan's Aida


Dragica (Carla) Martinis, a famous Croatian singer

 

"I need the most beautiful voice in the world. Where is it?" - Herbert von Karajan, Vienna 1951.

"Dragica Martinis. Here." - Rudolf Bing, New York.


This was a fast exchange of telegraphs in 1951. Von Karajan needed the best voice for the role of Aida at the concert in Vienna that had to be organized on the occasion 50 years since the death of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) . Rudolf Bing was a well known intendant of the famous Metropolitan opera in New York.



Dragica Martinis (January 19, 1922 - October 8, 2010) was born in the the village of Dančulovići
 near the town of Sošice in the region of Žumberak, west of Zagreb.
Except in Zagreb and Vienna she sang in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich,
in Spain, Italy, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco,
where the opera critic described her voice as pure gold.

Carla Martinis arrives - Hollywood  goes wild! - was a big newspaper title
 on the front page of Holywood Star Gazette in Los Angeles.
San Francisco News announced her arrival to the USA as follows:
"La Forza del Destino' brings new stars: Carla Martinis scores as Donna Leonora."
For international promotion of Croatian culture she received
the Danica (Venus) Order of Marko Marulić
from the late Croatian president Franjo Tuđman.

 
The name of Carla Martinis awakens memories of a brilliant era of opera in Vienna during the postwar period.  Vienna was always the pivotal point for this internationally acclaimed artist.

Carla Martinis was born in Croatia and studied at the Zagreb Conservatory.  She began her career at the opera houses in Zagreb and Prague and in 1949 took a prize at the singing competition in Geneva.  Shortly afterwards she came to Vienna where she had the chance to audition for the direcor of the New York City Opera, Laszlo Halasz.  Her performance of the "Nil aria" from Verdi's "Aida" made such a strong impression that she was immediately offered a contract by the New York City Opera, a house that has always been in productive competition with the more famous Metropolitan Opera.  In New York, where she sang for two seasons, Carla Martinis scored her first international successes as a Verdi and Puccini soprano.

Her first appearances in Vienna were in December 1950.  On the 14th, she sang Turandot in a cast that included Helge Roswaenge and Irmgard Seefried, and on the 18th she sang Tosca with Roswaenge and Alfred Jerger as her partners.

A critic of the "Wiener Zeitung" had this to say about the debut of Dragica Martinis (the singer's original name): "For this demanding role, Miss Martinis has an opulent, soaring voice which becomes even richer in the upper register; a sound of immense brilliance which yet remains pleasing to the ear."The "Neues Oesterreich" reported about her Tosca as follows: "The voice, bright and warm, ascends the high register effortlessly, with a light, free attack.  Phrasing, support and change of register are faultless, the middle voice is full and rich.  She has a marvellous stage presence which helped her to win the audience quickly."

Carla Martinis sensational debut came at the Vienna State Opera. She soon changed her name from Dragica to Carla.  She was a member of te Vienna State Opera ensemble from 1950 until 1962.

The young soprano's successes in New York and Vienna attracted the attention of Herbert von Karajan.  At the time, he was working as an opera conductor mainly at La Scala in Milan; in Vienna he did orchestral concerts only.  Carla Martinis was his first choice for the title role in a concert performance of Verdi's "Aida" on February 5, 1951 In the Musikverein Building in Vienna.  The performance was a sensation, one of the most notable event in a series of performances marking the fiftieth anniversary of Verdi's death.  For Carla Martinis it was a triumphant success.  With her in the cast were Lorenz Fehenberger, a tenor from Munich, as Radames; the American Nell Rankin as Amneris; and the Italian Giampiero Malaspina as Amonasro and Mario Petri as Ramphis.  It was an ensemble with an international spectrum; this was not customary in Vienna at the time, and it clearly bore the Karajan's stamp.

In the summer of 1951, Carla Martinis sang Desdemona in the legendary Salzburg Festival production of Verdi's "Otello" inder the baton of Wilhelm Furtwaengler, with Ramon Vinay as Otello and Paul Schoeffler as Iago.  The next year brought appearances at La Scala; Elena in Boito's "Mefistofele" under Victor de Sabata (with Renata Tebaldi, Ferrucio Tagliavini, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni), Elisabeth in "Don  Carlo", conducted by Antonino Votto (with Gino Penno, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni and Ebe Stignani).  In 1953 she sang Donna Anna at La Scala in a production of "Don Giovanni" conducted by Karajan (with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Mario Petri, Leopold Simoneau).  She had sung the same role the year before at the festival in Aix-en-Provence.  While a member of the Vienna Opera ensemble, Carla Martinis made  frequent guest appearances, mainly in Italy and the United States.

At the Vienna Opera - first in its temporary quarters, the Volksoper and the Theater an der Wien, later in the rebuilt house on the Ringstrasse - she sang the following roles in addition to those already mentioned: Amelia in "Un Ballo in Maschera", Madame Butterfly, Leonora in "Il Trovatore" and "La Foza del Destino", Madeleine in Andre Chenier", Mimi an Manon Lescaut.  In many cases, these were new productions.

Carla Martinis's career was cut short by a tragic event: the death of her child in an accident led to her early retirement from the stage.

An impulsive, unaffected singer, Carla Martinis is engraved forever in the
memory of opera lovers.

The source of the above text is a short biography of "Carla" Martinis in a Preiser Label single CD (Preiser 90126) of 13 tracks made at three different sessions between 1951 and 1956, published here with minor changes. See listserv.bccls.org



Carla Martinis sings "Ritorna vincitor" from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Wiener Symphoniker HERBERT VON KARAJAN, conductor Wien, 03.II.1951

Carla Martinis as Madama Butterfly, Un bel di vedremo


Carla Martinis as Aida, O patria mia


The best Karajan's Aida. Discover this wonderful talent... almost forgotten diva - CARLA MARTINIS (1922-2010)

CARLA MARTINIS & GIAMPIERO MALASPINA "CIEL; MIO PADRE"


Carla Martinis and Gampiero Malaspina sing "Ciel, mio padre" from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Wiener Symphoniker HERBERT VON KARAJAN, conductor Wien, 03.II.1951

Carla Martinis as Madama Butterfly, Con onor muore


Discover a great and rich voice of Carla Martinis.

CARLA MARTINIS " QUI RADAMES VERRA"


Carla Martinis sings "Qui Radames verra" from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Wiener Symphoniker HERBERT VON KARAJAN, conductor Wien, 03.II.1951

 
Dragica Martinis

Trebam najljepši glas na svijetu. Gdje je? - Herbert von Karajan, Beč
Dragica Martinis. Ovdje. - Rudolf Bing, New York

Bila je to kratka razmjena brzojava upućenih prije pripreme koncertne izvedbe Aide u Beču na izvornome talijanskom jeziku (što je tada bila iznimka) prigodom pedesete godišnjice Verdijeve smrti između njezina dirigenta i poznatog američkog menedžera. Najljepši glas na svijetu tada je pripadao hrvatskoj umjetnici o kojoj smo pisali u prošlome broju ťVijencaŤ u tekstu Hrvatski operni pjevači uvrstivši je među najveće pjevače koje smo dali svjetskoj opernoj reprodukciji. Tada je Dragica Martinis bila u kratku angažmanu u njujorškoj Gradskoj operi. Imala je za sobom sedam godina djelovanja u Operi HNK-a u Zagrebu, Saveznu nagradu za Aidu, prvu nagradu na Međunarodnome pjevačkom natjecanju u Ženevi, a bilo joj je tek dvadeset i osam godina (rođena je 1922. u Sošicama pokraj Jastrebarskog). Nakon debija 9. srpnja 1942. u ulozi Puccinijeve Mimi Zagrebačka opera nije pokazala zanimanje za nju pa je otišla u Njemačku i nakon iznimno uspjele audicije između brojnih ponuda izabrala je angažman u Stuttgartu. No zbog ratnih zbivanja vratila se u Hrvatsku i u rujnu 1943. postala je članica Zagrebačke opere.

Akustičko čudo

U Bečku državnu operu ušla je na velika vrata nakon dviju izvanredno otpjevanih predstava Turandot i Toske u prosincu 1950. godine, kad je kritika jezgrovito ustvrdila: došla je, otpjevala i pobijedila, preko noći dobila ugovor i angažman. Postala je njezin prvi sopran u talijanskom repertoaru, protagonistica premijera i svečanih glazbenih događanja. Gostovala je diljem Europe i obiju Amerika, uvijek u novim produkcijama i s najslavnijim umjetnicima vremena pod ravnanjem najvećih dirigenata. O njezinu glasu pisali su se hvalospjevi, nazivali su ga akustičkim čudom, suhim zlatom, njezina piana u najvišim položajima bila su očaravajuća. Visoki C u ariji Aide na Nilu, koji je počinjala u pianu, razvijala ga u forte i završavala u pianu još i danas odzvanja u ušima onih koji su je slušali. U tome krasnom glasu bilo je emotivnosti, topline i iskrenosti, i to ju je činilo fascinantnom glazbenoscenskom umjetnicom. Njezini nastupi bili su doživljaji kakve slušatelji, pogotovo bečki koji su je u obilju slušali u trinaest velikih uloga, ne zaboravljaju. U obično konvencionalno shvaćen ledeni lik Puccinijeve Turandot unosila je ljudske emocije, Toscu je oplemenjivala zaobljenom punoćom tona. Cio-Cio-San u Madame Butterfly osvajala je zvukovnom ljepotom i muzikalnim predanjem, što je njezinoj potresnoj igri davalo još snažnije djelovanje, a Amelija u Krabuljnom plesu zadivljavala je uznositošću verdijanske fraze.

Dirigent je zaplakao

Zagrebačka publika pamti je kao veličanstvenu Aidu, a Otello s njom i Josipom Gostičem pod ravnanjem Milana Sachsa 1950. jedan je od vrhunaca hrvatskoga glazbenog života. Bečka je kritika isticala i blistavu scensku pojavu lijepe žene, što je davalo još veću uvjerljivost zavodničkoj Manon Lescaut (nakon bečkih predstava s Giuseppeom di Stefanom imala je 28 poziva pred zastor), a ljupkost i jednostavnost podcrtavali su tragediju Desdemone tako snažno da poslovično strog Wilhelm Furtwängler nije mogao zatomiti suze kad je dirigirao četvrti čin Otella na Salzburškim svečanim igrama 1951. godine.

Dragica, u svijetu poznata kao Carla, Martinis bila je oličenje umjetnice koja svoj veliki prirodni talent i emotivno bogatstvo pruža bez zadrške, a to je najizravniji put do slušatelja. Ne čude stoga kritike u superlativima poput ove nakon premijere Moći sudbine u Beču 1952. godine: Bilo da pjeva u koncertnim dvoranama ili da stoji na pozornici, iz nje izbija neopisiv šarm, zadivljuje nepogrešivost njezine pjevačke tehnike i svjež, srdačan način njezina predanja. Dragica Martinis ima, osim fascinantnoga glasa, još beskrajno mnogo dragocjenijih darova - ona zna naći najbliži, najjednostavniji i najizravniji put k umjetnosti u glazbenom, tehničkom, stilskom i duhovnom smislu. Otuda izrasta njezin veliki umjetnički svijet.

Hrvatsko narodno kazalište u Zagrebu barem će djelomice ispraviti golemu nepravdu koju je bivši režim učinio prema našoj velikoj umjetnici ne dopustivši joj, nakon što je prihvatila svjetsku karijeru, nastupe u Hrvatskoj i zabranivši da se na radiju čuje njezin glas i izgovori njezino ime.

Marija Barbieri www.matica.hr/Vijenac

Opširnije vidi u članku Marije Barbieri: Dragica Martinis - žumberački slavuj, Žumberački krijes 2003., Zagreb, str. 131-143



Carla Martinis was born as Dragica Balić. Martinis is the second name of her husband.
On the photo she is in the role of Cho-Cho San in Madame Butterfly, in Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

Carla Martinis in Turandot by G. Puccini



Carla Martinis as Leonora on the premiere of the opera The Force of Destiny by G. Verdi.



Carla Martinis as Desdemona in Otello by G. Verdi.

Performance by the New York City Opera Company in 1950

Carla Martinis in Pique Dame

The late Charles Jahant - a remarkable opera historian - made an outline of the singer's career whom Carla Martinis annotated. Source www.operanostalgia.be

Carla Martinis as Aida

The photos are from various articles listed at the bottom of this web page.

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
Distributed by www.Croatia.org . This message is intended for Croatian Associations/Institutions and their Friends in Croatia and in the World. The opinions/articles expressed on this list do not reflect personal opinions of the moderator. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please delete or destroy all copies of this communication and please, let us know!


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