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
Reimann: Lear / Albrecht, Fischer-Dieskau, Dernesch
Release Date: 07/18/2000   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 463480   Number of Discs: 2
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Wagner: Siegfried / Karajan, J Thomas, Dernesch, Stolze
Release Date: 06/10/2010   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 415150   Number of Discs: 4
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Wagner: Gotterdammerung / Karajan, Janowitz, Ludwig, Dernesch, Brilioth
Release Date: 05/27/2010   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 415155   Number of Discs: 4
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Beethoven: Fidelio / Karajan, Dernesch, Vickers, Van Dam
Release Date: 04/05/2011   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 48172   Number of Discs: 2
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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde / Karajan, Vickers, Dernesch
Release Date: 07/12/2011   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 28858   Number of Discs: 4
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Browse 26-50 of 59 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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: $12.99
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  • 27.
    The Record of Singing Vol 5 - From the LP to the Digital Era
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 28949 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Jacques Offenbach,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk,  Luciana Serra,  Neil Shicoff,  Alain Vanzo  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Sylvain Cambreling,  Georges Prêtre,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Orchestra,  Paris Opera Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $68.99
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  • 28.
    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: $19.99
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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    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
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    CD: $63.99
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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    Best Beethoven 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 97307 Release Date: 07/31/2007   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Eric Heidsieck,  Paul Tortelier,  Stephen Kovacevich,  Siegfried Rudolf Frese  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Riccardo Muti,  Jeffrey Tate  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Nash Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 33.
    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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  • 34.
    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
    Recommendation
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  • 35.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Dernesch, Vickers, Karajan
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69290 Release Date: 09/25/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Helga Dernesch,  Zoltan Kélémén,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 36.
    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
    On sale!
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  • 37.
    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 Prêtre,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
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  • 38.
    Musik in Deutschland 1950-2000 - Messe und Totenmesse
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 73571 Release Date: 04/18/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Rudolf Mauersberger,  Wolfgang von Schweinitz,  Dieter Schnebel,  Volker David Kirchner  ... 
    Performer:  René Kretzschmann,  Benjamin Steffin,  William Pell,  Cheryl Studer  ... 
    Conductor:  Matthias Jung,  Gerd Albrecht,  Zoltán Peskó,  Mathias Breitschaft  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Kreuz Choir,  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra members,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 39.
    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: $19.99
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  • 40.
    Wagner - The Opera Collection: Tannhäuser / Solti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470810 Release Date: 02/11/2003   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Christa Ludwig,  René Kollo,  Victor Braun  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Opera Chorus
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  • 41.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Levine, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471678 Release Date: 10/08/2002   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Marilyn Mims,  Marita Napier,  Hildegard Behrens,  James Morris  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 42.
    Wagner: Das Rheingold / Bohm, Windgassen, Adam
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 412475 Release Date: 05/08/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Gustav Neidlinger,  Annelies Burmeister,  Martti Talvela,  Kurt Böhme  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 43.
    The #1 Choral Album - Beethoven, Handel, Verdi, Bizet, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470382 Release Date: 03/12/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Thomas Augustine Arne,  John Tavener,  Charles Gounod,  Carl Orff  ... 
    Performer:  Sarah Walker,  Stephen Doughty,  Bryn Terfel,  James Morris  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington,  Stephen Cleobury,  Richard Bonynge,  Charles Dutoit  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cambridge King's College Choir  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 44.
    Philips 50 - Wagner: Die Walküre / Böhm, Bayreuth Festival
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 464751 Release Date: 01/15/2002   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Danica Mastilovic,  Gerd Nienstedt,  Gertraud Hopf,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $33.98
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  • 45.
    Strauss: Arabella / Thielemann, Te Kanawa, Brendel, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 073005 Release Date: 06/19/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Wolfgang Brendel,  Helga Dernesch,  Marie McLaughlin,  David Kuebler  ... 
    Conductor:  Christian Thielemann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 46.
    Wagner: Die Walkure (Act 1) / Klemperer, Cochran, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1205 Release Date: 03/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Hans Sotin,  William Cochran
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    On sale! $25.98
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  • 47.
    Reimann: Lear / Albrecht, Fischer-Dieskau, Dernesch
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 463480 Release Date: 07/18/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Aribert Reimann
    Performer:  Karl Helm,  Hans Wilbrink,  Georg Paskuda,  Richard Holm  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerd Albrecht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus
    Recommendation
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  • 48.
    Weill: Der Silbersee / Markus Stenz, London Sinfonietta
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63447 Release Date: 08/10/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Kurt Weill
    Performer:  Catrin Wyn-Davies,  Katarina Karnéus,  Graham Clark,  Helga Dernesch  ... 
    Conductor:  Markus Stenz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta Chorus,  London Sinfonietta
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  • 49.
    The Best Opera Album In The World...ever!
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 42203 Release Date: 07/27/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  José Carreras,  Maria Callas,  Montserrat Caballé,  Roberto Alagna  ... 
    Conductor:  Alain Lombard,  Georges Prêtre,  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rhine Opera Chorus,  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra,  ORTF National Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 50.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Karajan, Berlin Po
    Label: Dg The Originals   Catalog: 457780 Release Date: 07/14/1998   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Barbro Ericson,  Danica Mastilovic,  Ingrid Steger,  Thomas Stewart  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    On sale! $181.98
    CD: $178.49
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