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 44 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Dernesch, Vickers, Ludwig, Schreier, Karajan, Berlin Philarmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 554010 Release Date: 01/29/2016   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
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    CD: $22.99
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  • 2.
    Karajan - The Opera Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002328102 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 70
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Franz Lehár,  Franz von Suppé  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Zednik,  Christine Barbaux,  Katia Ricciarelli,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $279.49
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  • 3.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Solti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002330102 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 16
    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
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  • 4.
    Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Solti [Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002236146 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    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
    Blu-ray Audio: $87.49
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  • 5.
    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  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 6.
    Music Of Steel - Heroic Themes From The Movies
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001871502 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John T. Williams,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Helen Watts,  Marilyn Tyler,  Birgit Nilsson,  Claudia Hellmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir Georg Solti,  Stanley Black,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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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  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $134.49
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  • 8.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 9.
    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  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Karajan, Vickers, Dernesch
    Label: Warner 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
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  • 12.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Karajan, Dernesch, Vickers, Van Dam
    Label: Warner 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
    CD: $29.99
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  • 13.
    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: $57.49
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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    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
    Recommendation
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    Wagner: Famous Opera Choruses / Solti, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: London/Decca Opera Gala Series   Catalog: 421865 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Werner Krenn,  Isola Jones,  Janis Martin,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Boys' Choir,  Gumpoldskirchner Spatzen  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 18.
    Essential Wagner
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 88597 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Helga Dernesch,  Christa Ludwig,  Siegfried Jerusalem  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Bernard Haitink,  Mariss Jansons
    CD: $13.99
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  • 19.
    Best Karajan 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15206 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Nepomuk Hummel,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Bernard Walton,  Dennis Brain,  Lothar Koch,  Maurice André  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 20.
    Ultimate Wagner - Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 00115870 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ruth Hesse,  Gustav Neidlinger,  Dorothea Siebert,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti,  Silvio Varviso,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
    CD: $21.99
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  • 21.
    Wagner: The Great Operas From The Bayreuth Festival
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001123902 Release Date: 06/17/2008   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Sieglinde Wagner,  Marga Höffgen,  Annelies Burmeister,  Dorothea Siebert  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Silvio Varviso,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    Recommendation
    CD: $73.99
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  • 22.
    Wagner: Die Walküre - Highlights / Solti, Nilsson, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421887 Release Date: 01/21/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  James King,  Hans Hotter,  Birgit Nilsson,  Régine Crespin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 23.
    Ultimate Opera - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000895102 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  George Frideric Handel,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Marilyn Horne,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Dame Joan Sutherland  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Henry Lewis,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 24.
    Strauss: Arabella / Jeffrey Tate, Kiri Te Kanawa
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417623 Release Date: 11/30/2006   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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    On sale! $36.98
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  • 25.
    Humperdinck: Hänsel Und Gretel / Fassbaender, Gruberova, Solti
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 00057609 Release Date: 01/10/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck
    Performer:  Hermann Prey,  Edita Gruberova,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $32.99
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