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 51-27 of 27 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Strauss: Arabella / Thielemann, Te Kanawa, Brendel
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 073005 Release Date: 06/19/2001  
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Wolfgang Brendel,  Helga Dernesch,  Marie McLaughlin,  David Kuebler  ... 
    Conductor:  Christian Thielemann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 52.
    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
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  • 53.
    Wagner: Der Ring Nibelungen (Highlights) / Karajan, Et Al
    Label: Dg Panorama   Catalog: 469223 Release Date: 02/27/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jess Thomas,  Thomas Stewart,  Cvetka Ahlin,  Liselotte Rebmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 54.
    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
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  • 55.
    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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  • 56.
    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: $179.99
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  • 57.
    Wagner: The Ring - Great Scenes / Solti, Vienna PO, et al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 448933 Release Date: 07/03/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Berit Lindholm,  Marilyn Tyler  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $47.99
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  • 58.
    Grand Opera Choruses
    Label: London/Decca Opera Gala Series   Catalog: 458205 Release Date: 05/12/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Hector Berlioz,  Otto Nicolai  ... 
    Performer:  James McCracken,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Samuel Ramey,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Charles Dutoit,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra  ... 
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  • 59.
    Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Solti, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 455555 Release Date: 10/14/1997   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Berit Lindholm,  Marilyn Tyler,  Vera Schlosser  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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    CD: $174.99
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  • 60.
    Wagner: Die Walküre / Solti, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 455559 Release Date: 10/14/1997   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig,  Helga Dernesch,  Hans Hotter,  Birgit Nilsson  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $71.49
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  • 61.
    Wagner: The Best Of The Ring / Böhm, Nilsson, Rysanek, Et Al
    Label: Philips Duo   Catalog: 454020 Release Date: 04/09/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Dorothea Siebert,  Ruth Hesse,  Helga Dernesch,  Gustav Neidlinger  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
    CD: $16.99
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  • 62.
    Schoeck: Penthesilea / Albrecht, Dernesch, Marsh, Et Al
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 364941 Release Date: 11/17/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Othmar Schoeck
    Performer:  Jane Marsh,  Mechthild Gessendorf,  Marjana Lipovsek,  Gabriela Sima  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerd Albrecht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Austrian Radio Chorus,  Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 63.
    Pavarotti's Opera Made Easy - My Favorite Opera For Children
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 443817 Release Date: 08/23/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Gioachino Rossini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Julia Hamari,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Lucia Popp,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Silvio Varviso,  Richard Bonynge,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Boys' Choir,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 64.
    Mahler: The Symphonies / Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 430804 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Heather Harper,  Arleen Augér,  Yvonne Minton  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Boys' Choir,  Vienna Singverein  ... 
    CD: $112.49
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  • 65.
    Wagner: Götterdämmerung / Levine, Behrens, Goldberg, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 429385 Release Date: 09/12/1991   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hildegard Behrens,  Reiner Goldberg,  Matti Salminen,  Bernd Weikl  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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    On sale! $54.98
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  • 66.
    Weill: The Threepenny Opera / Mauceri, Lemper, Kollo, Milva
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 430075 Release Date: 01/05/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill
    Performer:  Susanne Tremper,  René Kollo,  Helga Dernesch,  Ute Lemper  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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