Rita Gorr

Biography

Born: February 18, 1926; Zelzaete  
Although Belgian by birth and training, mezzo soprano Rita Gorr was regarded as a lingering example of the great French tradition of lyric/dramatic singing. Her large, powerful instrument, narrowing in the top register to a point that was (usually) just short of shrillness, was remarkably even; no abrupt shifts into or out of the chest register intruded in her grand utterance. The larger the role's stature, the more apt her qualifications for it. Read more While some found the voice's coloration too bright, in the theater its penetrative power was electrifying and Gorr's acting, commanding yet unexaggerated, always riveted the audience's attention. Several recordings, made in her prime, testify to an indomitable voice and presence. Beginning her studies in Ghent, Gorr later attended Brussels Conservatory. She made her stage debut in Antwerp in 1949, singing Fricka in Die Walküre. Thereafter, she was engaged at Strasbourg until 1952, when she won the Lausanne International Singing Competition and made debuts at both the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique, singing Magdalene in Meistersinger at the former and Charlotte at the latter. Later in that decade, she had received an invitation to Bayreuth, where she made her debut in 1958 as Fricka. Gorr's first appearance at Covent Garden took place in 1959, when she presented her imperious Amneris. La Scala heard her for the first time in 1960 when she undertook Kundry in a production of Parsifal.

Two important American debuts took place in 1962. At the Metropolitan Opera, her first appearance on October 17 was again as Amneris, beginning a too-short relationship that also brought to New York her Eboli, her Santuzza, her Azucena, and her Dalila. It was in the latter role that she made her spectacular debut in Chicago on November 10. In a production of Samson et Dalila originally intended for Giulietta Simionato and Jon Vickers (she advised she could not relearn the role in French; he had a protected illness), Gorr joined German Shakespearian actor-turned-heroic tenor Hans Kaart for a high-voltage performance of Saint-Saëns' Biblical pageant. While the promising tenor clearly had not fully learned his role, Gorr stormed the stage with dramatic authority and vocal splendor, creating further excitement in a season that had already held Régine Crespin's American debut. Gorr's career stretched over a half century. In the 1990s, she was still singing, smaller roles at major theaters and major ones at smaller theaters.

Gorr's reputation is sustained through her presence in several important recordings, ones that have held their place in the catalog over the decades. During her prime, she participated first in EMI's production of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites together with such artists as Denise Duval and Régine Crespin, all under the composer's supervision (much later, she sang Madame de Croissy in another recording of the work). Her forthright Amneris was captured with the Aida of Leontyne Price in her prime and the complex, truly heroic Radames of Jon Vickers, all led by Georg Solti. Her Ortrud for RCA, under Erich Leinsdorf's direction, is matched in proficiency only by Sándor Kónya's Lohengrin, but is worth hearing. Finally, her imposing Dalila for EMI brought her together with Vickers once more for a recording regarded as essential despite indifferent conducting and secondary casting. Read less
Browse 1-19 of 19 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites / Duval, Dervaux, Paris National Opera Orchestra
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 555532 Release Date: 05/20/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Liliane Berton,  Régine Crespin,  Denise Duval,  Denise Scharley  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris National Opera Chorus,  Paris National Opera Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Autograph – Jose van Dam
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564619049 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach,  Hector Berlioz,  Jacques Ibert,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  José Van Dam,  Rosalind Plowright,  Jean-Philippe Collard,  Dalton Baldwin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling,  Kent Nagano,  Michel Plasson,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Orchestra,  Lyon Opera Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold (Bayreuth 1958) / Knappertsbusch, Hotter, Grummer, Konya
    Label: Walhall   Catalog: 246 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Hans Hotter,  Rita Gorr,  Frans Andersson  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 4.
    Poulenc: Complete Works [20-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 972165 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Gabriel Tacchino,  Jacques Février,  Emmanuel Strosser,  Xavier Phillips  ... 
    Conductor:  François Boulanger,  Georges Prętre,  John Alldis,  Harry Christophers  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Garde Républicaine Soloists Ensemble,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus  ... 
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  • 5.
    Solti Conducts The Verdi Operas [16-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746202 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Robert Merrill,  Rita Gorr,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
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  • 6.
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 178 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Rita Gorr,  Jon [Tenor Vocals] Vickers
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
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  • 7.
    Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmelites / Dervaux, Duval, Crespin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 48228 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Régine Crespin,  Rita Gorr,  Paul Finel,  Xavier Depraz  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Theater Opera Orchestra of Paris,  National Theater Opera Chorus of Paris
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  • 8.
    Wagner: Die Walkure / Leinsdorf, Nilsson, Vickers, London
    Label: London/Decca Grand Opera Series   Catalog: 430391 Release Date: 11/07/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Birgit Nilsson,  Jon Vickers,  Julia Malyon,  Gré Brouwenstijn  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Verdi: Aida / Solti, Price, Vickers, Merrill
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001572702 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Robert Merrill,  Rita Gorr,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
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    CD: $21.99
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  • 10.
    50 Best Opera
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57531 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Gustave Charpentier  ... 
    Performer:  Cornelius Hauptmann,  Margareta Lilowa,  Carolyn Watkinson,  Ursula Kunz  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington,  Bernard Haitink,  Rafael Kubelik,  Peter Schneider  ... 
    CD: $13.99
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  • 11.
    Verdi: Aida Scenes & Arias / Solti, Price, Gorr, Vickers
    Label: London/Decca Opera Gala Series   Catalog: 421860 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Giorgio Tozzi,  Leontyne Price,  Robert Merrill  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
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  • 12.
    Wagner: Lohengrin / Matačić, Kónya, Grümmer, Crass
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 691063 Release Date: 10/31/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Harald Neukirch,  Herold Kraus,  Rita Gorr,  Elisabeth Grümmer  ... 
    Conductor:  Lovro von Matacic
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 13.
    The Very Best Of Jon Vickers
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 86338 Release Date: 04/26/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Richard Wagner,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Mario Machi,  Peter Glossop,  Mirella Freni,  Jon [Tenor Vocals] Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Georges Prętre,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
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  • 14.
    100 Best Opera Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 862112 Release Date: 02/15/2005   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Wagner,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Gary Lakes,  Maria Callas,  Tito Gobbi,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  James Conlon,  Alceo Galliera,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 15.
    Gounod: Faust / Cluytens, Gedda, Blanc, Christoff, Et Al
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 67975 Release Date: 04/08/2003   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Boris Christoff,  Ernest Blanc,  Rita Gorr  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Theater Opera Orchestra of Paris,  National Theater Opera Chorus of Paris
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  • 16.
    Wagner: Overtures, Preludes, Arias / Andre Cluytens, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1256 Release Date: 04/08/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Rita Gorr
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
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    On sale! $25.98
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  • 17.
    Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmelites / Dervaux, Duval
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 67135 Release Date: 10/02/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Xavier Depraz,  Gisčle Desmoutiers,  Denise Duval,  Liliane Berton  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Chorus,  Paris Opera Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmelites / Nagano, Dubosc, Van Dam
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 59227 Release Date: 01/19/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Georges Gautier,  Michel Sénéchal,  Catherine Dubosc,  Martine Dupuy  ... 
    Conductor:  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon Opera Orchestra,  Lyon Opera Chorus,  London Chorus
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  • 19.
    Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande / Maurane, Micheau, Fournet
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 434783 Release Date: 08/10/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Xavier Depraz,  Rita Gorr,  Michel Roux,  Janine Micheau  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean Fournet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
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