Helga Dernesch

Biography

Born: February 3, 1939; Vienna, Austria  
The career of Helga Dernesch has unfolded in four distinct segments: mezzo soprano, lyric soprano, dramatic soprano, and, once again, mezzo. During the middle two phases, the comely soprano was encouraged by Herbert von Karajan to undertake the heaviest Wagner soprano roles, assignments really beyond the means of a singer whose vocal weight was well below that of a Nilsson or Varnay. Eventually, she was forced to agonize over a return to the Read more mezzo range. Once the transition was made, she was able to employ her still handsome voice and extend her career into her mid-sixties. Following studies at the Vienna Conservatory, Dernesch made her debut at Berne in 1961 singing Marina in Boris Godunov. Engagements in Wiesbaden and Cologne led to a contract at Bayreuth, where she appeared for the first time in 1965. After her initial experience at Bayreuth, she began a transition to major soprano roles, first Sieglinde (which served as her Covent Garden calling card); later Brünnhilde, Isolde, and Beethoven's Leonore. Under Karajan's ministrations, she became a regular artist at the Salzburg Easter Festivals beginning in 1969. During those appearances, she prepared and sang the aforementioned heroic ladies, always with great warmth and womanliness, if with a voice several decibels short of the ideal. During this time, she also created a much-praised study of Strauss' Marschallin, singing the role with lovely tone and finding the right measure of pathos. Dernesch's return to mezzo roles was welcomed by the conductors with whom she had collaborated, and she was chosen to sing Goneril in the premiere of Aribert Reimann's Lear in 1978. Sounding vocally refreshed, she began to assemble a repertory of Wagner and Strauss mezzo roles and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1985 as a glamorous, firm-voiced Marina. Her Herodias for the Los Angeles Opera in 1998 was greeted with enthusiasm and her portrayal of the title role in Reimann's Bernarda Albas Haus in Munich was acclaimed as another gripping theatrical achievement. Dernesch recorded Leonore, the Siegfried, Götterdämmerung's Brünnhilde, and Isolde with Karajan. Her compelling Goneril is also preserved on commercial disc. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 67 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    My Wagner Album / Christian Thielemann
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001884102 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Paul Schöffler,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Thomas Stewart,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Christian Thielemann,  Hans Knappertsbusch,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus  ... 
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  • 2.
    Music Of Steel - Heroic Themes From The Movies
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001871502 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Williams,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Claudia Hellmann,  Marilyn Tyler,  Brigitte Fassbaender  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir Georg Solti,  Stanley Black,  Antal Doráti  ... 
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  • 3.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold / Bohm, Windgassen, Adam
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001820702 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Theo Adam,  Gustav Neidlinger,  Annelies Burmeister  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Wagner: Heavy Classix - The Ultimate Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001819702 Release Date: 04/02/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Carlotta Ordassy,  Barbro Ericson,  Danica Mastilovic,  Ingrid Steger  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Karl Böhm,  Eugen Jochum,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
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  • 5.
    50 Best Sensual Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 333022 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  James Horner,  Pietro Mascagni,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Nino Rota  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Bernard Pommier,  Cécile Ousset,  Mikhail Rudy,  Natasha Marsh  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons,  Lawrence Foster,  Simon Rattle,  François-Xavier Roth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Cellists,  Ahn Trio,  Virtuosi
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  • 6.
    Essential Opera Divas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234522 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Arleen Augér,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Véronique Gens,  Jessye Norman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Fabio Biondi,  Christophe Rousset,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 7.
    Wagner: Complete Operas [43-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001786402 Release Date: 01/08/2013   Number of Discs: 43
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Don Garrard,  Elisabeth Gale,  Della Jones,  April Cantelo  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Downes,  Heinrich Hollreiser,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Northern Symphony,  BBC Northern Singers,  Leipzig Radio Chorus  ... 
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    CD: $129.99
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  • 8.
    Weill: Die Dreigroschenoper
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001752402 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Helga Dernesch,  Milva,  Wolfgang Reichmann  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 9.
    The Essential Wagner
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 973399 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Siegfried Jerusalem,  Peter Haage,  Nicolai Gedda,  Reiner Goldberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Heger,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Klaus Tennstedt,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $13.99
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  • 10.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Solti, Vienna Philharmonic [Deluxe 19-Disc Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001745502 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 19
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hans Hotter,  Birgit Nilsson,  Kirsten Flagstad,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $299.98
    CD: $234.99
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  • 11.
    Solti Conducts The Wagner Operas [36-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746302 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 36
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Werner Krenn,  Isola Jones,  Janis Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 12.
    Voices Of German Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40497 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Heinrich Marschner  ... 
    Performer:  Natalie Dessay,  Edda Moser,  Kurt Moll,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Langrée,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Berislav Klobucar,  Rudolf Moralt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 13.
    Opera 2012
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001675802 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Umberto Giordano,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Andrea Bocelli,  Anna Netrebko,  Jonas Kaufmann,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Fabio Luisi,  Antonio Pappano,  Giovanni Antonini  ... 
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  • 14.
    Strauss: Arabella / Jeffrey Tate, Kiri Te Kanawa
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001654102 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Ernst Gutstein,  Peter Seiffert,  Gabriele Fontana  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
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  • 15.
    Wagner: Gotterdammerung / Bohm, Nilsson, Windgassen, Greindl
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001651702 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Josef Greindl,  Wolfgang Windgassen,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Marga Höffgen  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
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  • 16.
    Wagner: Die Walkure / Bohm, Nilsson, Rysanek, King, Adam
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001615502 Release Date: 12/06/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Birgit Nilsson,  Gerd Nienstedt,  Theo Adam,  James King  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 828662 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Henry Purcell,  Jean-Philippe Rameau  ... 
    Performer:  Nancy Argenta,  Crispian Steele-Perkins,  Gudrun Jahn,  Barbara Hendricks  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Fischer,  Kirk Trevor,  Louis Langrée,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Paris National Opera Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Best Soprano Arias 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80442 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Henry Purcell,  Jean-Philippe Rameau  ... 
    Performer:  Nancy Argenta,  Crispian Steele-Perkins,  Gudrun Jahn,  Barbara Hendricks  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Fischer,  Kirk Trevor,  Louis Langrée,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Paris National Opera Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 19.
    Love Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82159 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Mirella Freni,  José Carreras,  Alfredo Kraus  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Herbert von Karajan,  Nicola Rescigno,  Bruno Bartoletti  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 20.
    Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Karajan, Vickers, Dernesch
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 28858 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Martin Vantin,  Christa Ludwig,  Helga Dernesch,  Jon Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $57.98
    CD: $48.49
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  • 21.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Karajan, Dernesch, Vickers, Van Dam
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 48172 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Jon Vickers,  Helen Donath,  Zoltan Kélémén  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    Recommendation
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  • 22.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Bohm, Bayreuther Festspiele [14-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001479602 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gustav Neidlinger,  Thomas Stewart,  Sieglinde Wagner,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    Recommendation
    CD: $74.49
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  • 23.
    50 Best Opera
    Label: Emi 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  ... 
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  • 24.
    Wagner: Siegfried / Karajan, J Thomas, Dernesch, Stolze
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415150 Release Date: 06/10/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Oralia Dominguez,  Karl Ridderbusch,  Zoltan Kélémén,  Thomas Stewart  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Wagner: Gotterdammerung / Karajan, Janowitz, Ludwig, Dernesch, Brilioth
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415155 Release Date: 05/27/2010   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Liselotte Rebmann,  Catarina Ligendza,  Lili Chookasian,  Zoltan Kélémén  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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