Sándor Kónya


Born: September 23, 1923; Sarkad   Died: May 20, 2002; Ibiza, Spain  
Gifted with a shining, spinto weight instrument, tenor Sándor Kónya became a leading artist with his 1958 Bayreuth Festival debut as Lohengrin. So thoroughly did his performance define the Swan Knight that it became Kónya's calling card. The 1958 Bayreuth production has been issued on CD, preserving Kónya's interpretation at its pristine best along with Leonie Rysanek's lustrous Elsa and Astrid Varnay's implacable Read more Ortrud. Later, Kónya recorded the opera commercially for RCA under Erich Leinsdorf, an effort in which the rest of the cast fell short of the tenor's high standards. The easy thrust of Kónya's top register suited both the higher-lying passages allotted to Lohengrin and Walter in Die Meistersinger and afforded him the plangency to do full justice to many Italian roles as well. Kónya's stage deportment was discrete and dignified, setting him apart from many Italian contemporaries given to frantic histrionics.

After beginning his vocal studies in Budapest, Kónya moved first to Detmold, then to Rome and Milan to gain an advanced polish to his technique. In 1951, he made his professional debut in Bielefeld as Turiddu. Following engagements at Darmstadt, Stuttgart, and Hamburg, Kónya became a member of the Städtische Oper in Berlin in 1955. From that point forward, his career became more international in scope. A leading role in the world premiere of Henze's König Hirsch and a performance of Nureddin in Cornelius' comic confection Der Barbier in Bagdad at the Edinburgh Festival attracted widespread attention in 1956. Then Kónya's stunning 1958 Bayreuth debut put his name near the top of management must-engage lists. Paris discovered him in 1959 and the year following, San Francisco heard him in four operas, the first of which was La Fanciulla del West. In the role of Dick Johnson, Kónya's strong instrument was appreciated for its vibrancy and seductive ease. His Lohengrin a month later was hailed as superior and he earned approval for his singing of Rodolfo and Radames, if muted praise for his stage deportment. Kónya's Parsifal at La Scala in 1960 was praised warmly and his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1961 was similarly successful. At London's Covent Garden, Kónya made his first appearance in 1963. As at the Metropolitan, the role was once again Lohengrin.

At the Metropolitan Opera, Kónya sang not only Lohengrin and Walter in the German wing, but also Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer and Max (in an unsuccessful attempt to revive Weber's long-dormant Freischütz). While German and Austrian audiences continued to appreciate Weber's wonderful singspiel, Metropolitan audiences were less enthralled and the work passed back into obscurity, despite Kónya's hand-in-glove suitability for the role of Max.

An artist both outstandingly endowed and versatile in schooling and temperament, Kónya proved immensely useful to the Metropolitan Opera over 14 seasons. In addition to the jugendlicher heldentenor repertory, he was a highly credible Cavaradossi, Pinkerton, Calaf, Radames, and Edgardo. A slight graininess of timbre lent to his voice a slightly veiled quality not unlike that of Björling. Kónya also shared with the Swedish tenor an uncommon blossoming of tone in the upper register. His substantial middle and lower voice provided the firm anchor for his ringing top and allowed him, at his best, to negotiate the transition (passaggio) into the upper register without the strangulation exhibited by so many other German-trained tenors. Read less
Browse 1-12 of 12 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Twenty Gems Of Viennese Operetta
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1249 Release Date: 07/24/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Richard Heuberger,  Carl Zeller,  Karl Millöcker  ... 
    Performer:  Hilde Gueden,  Sándor Kónya,  Helga Hildebrand,  Anneliese Rothenberger  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Stolz,  Fried Walter,  Werner Schmidt-Boelcke,  Heinrich Hollreiser  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  FFB Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 2.
    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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  • 3.
    Verdi: Messa Da Requiem / Konya, Bumbry, Ligabue, Arie, Giulini
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 3079968 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Sándor Kónya,  Grace Bumbry,  Raffaele Arié,  Ilva Ligabue
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 4.
    Grandioso! - Great Verdi Recordings From Caruso To Pavarotti [7 CD-Set]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001928802 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Sándor Kónya,  Maria Németh,  Ebe [Mezzo-soprano Vocal] Stignani,  Renata Tebaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  János Kulka,  Alberto Erede,  Bruno Bartoletti  ... 
    On sale! $49.98
    CD: $46.99
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  • 5.
    Popular Opera Arias
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300250 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Hermann [Baritone Vocal] Prey,  Ruth-Margaret Pütz,  Franz Crass,  Annelies Burmeister  ... 
    Conductor:  Otmar Suitner,  Siegfried Kurz,  Giuseppe Patané,  Horst Stein  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 6.
    Puccini: Tosca / Woytowicz, Enders, Stein
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 91172 Release Date: 11/03/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Günther Leib,  Werner Enders,  Kim Borg,  Stefania Woytowicz  ... 
    Conductor:  Horst Stein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
    CD: $22.49
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  • 7.
    The Premium Collection - 75 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000988602 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Edvard Grieg,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Alfons Kontarsky,  Aloys Kontarsky,  Wolfgang Herzer,  Göran Söllscher  ... 
    Conductor:  Baumgartner,  Neeme Järvi,  Seiji Ozawa,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lucerne Festival Strings
    On sale! $47.98
    CD: $45.49
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  • 8.
    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
    CD: $54.49
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  • 9.
    Anna Moffo - A Tribute
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4383 Release Date: 05/30/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Moffo,  Gino Bechi,  Sándor Kónya,  Richard Tucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Felice Cillario,  Giuseppe Patané,  Donald Voorhees
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra
    DVD: $28.99
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  • 10.
    Giulini- Verdi: Requiem, Etc / Giulini, Bumbry, Kónya, Et Al
    Label: Bbc Legends   Catalog: 4144 Release Date: 06/29/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Ilva Ligabue,  Sándor Kónya,  Raphäel Arié
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
    CD: $29.99
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  • 11.
    Wagner: Die Meistersinger / Rafael Kubelik
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 43020 Release Date: 12/30/2003   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Karl [bass baritone] Kohn,  Anton Diakov,  Peter Baillie,  Friedrich Lenz  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $70.99
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  • 12.
    Fifty Years Of Hungaroton: Singers
    Label: Hungaroton   Catalog: 32096/8 Release Date: 01/29/2002   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Gioachino Rossini,  Charles Gounod,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Imry Palló,  Mihaly Székely,  Tibor Udvardy,  Iren Szecsodi  ... 
    Conductor:  János Kerekes,  Amade Nemeth,  László Pless,  Vilmos Komor  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Savaria
    CD: $48.99
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