Lisa Della Casa

Biography

Born: February 2, 1919; Burgdorf, Switzerland   Died: December 10, 2012; Münsterlingen, Switzerland  
During her career, Swiss-born soprano Lisa della Casa was known for her engaging portrayals of Mozart and Strauss roles, particularly Strauss' Arabella. She began her studies at the age of 15 with Margarete Haeser, who remained her only teacher. Della Casa made her debut as Cio-Cio-san in 1941 in Solothurn-Biel and in 1943 became a member of the Zürich City Theater. In normal times she no doubt would soon have been singing in houses in Read more Germany, Austria, and Italy as well, but she remained in neutral Switzerland until after World War II ended in 1945. One of her first major appearances outside Switzerland was at the Salzburg Festival in 1947. Engaged for that production on the recommendation of Maria Cebotari, she sang the part of Zdenka in Strauss' Arabella. She was engaged right away to return the following year for another Strauss role, that of the Countess in Capriccio.

Della Casa became a member of the Vienna Staatsoper in 1947, but continued singing with the Zürich City Theater until 1950. In Zürich she sang a wide variety of roles: Pamina in The Magic Flute, Gilda in Rigoletto, and, unusually, Serena in Porgy and Bess (the Gershwin estate's insistance on all-black casting for that opera has not been followed in Europe as carefully as in the United States). She also sang a noted world premiere in Burkhard's Die schwarze Spinne as "The Young Woman" (1949) and created the triple role of the female leads in Gottfried von Einem's Der Prozess (1953).

She made her British debut as the Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro at Glyndebourne in 1951, and sang the title role of Strauss's Arabella for the first time at her Munich debut the same year. Arabella became her signature role. Her first appearance at Covent Garden was in that role on a tour with the Bavarian Staatsoper. Critics found in her voice the "spring and silver" that Strauss said he called for in such parts, and her attractive and elegant looks and unmannered acting style made her an audience favorite.

She sang regularly at the Metropolitan Opera from 1953 to 1968, again appearing as Mozart's Countess. Of Mozart's heroines, she excelled in Donna Elvira, Donna Anna, Pamina, and Fiordiligi. She sang Chryothemis in Strauss's Elektra, in Ariadne auf Naxos, and even tried Salome (an attempt she admitted was an experiment). Since she had a wide range, she became one of the few singers to excel, in turn, in all three of the major parts in Der Rosenkavalier: Sophie, Octavian, and Die Marschallin.

In 1952, she received the honorary title of Kammersängerin of Austria. She was invited to sing at the 1952 Bayreuth Festspielhaus, where she appeared as Eva in Die Meistersinger. She was, however, bothered by the lingering sense of the darker side of German nationalism she sensed at that shrine to Richard Wagner and turned down all further requests to sing there.

She had a reputation as a thoughtful, highly principled artist and person. She was known for her criticism of the dishonorable aspects of the "music business" and loathed the intrigues, jealousies, and cabals that often infested the operatic world. She also felt that star egos prevented major singers from working together as ensembles. She retired from singing unexpectedly in 1974. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 75 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Strauss / Karajan [11 CDs & 1 Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002100500 Release Date: 08/19/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Michel Schwalbé,  Giusto Cappone,  Pierre Fournier,  Norbert Hauptmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 2.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
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  • 3.
    Richard Strauss: Complete Operas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002013902 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Cäcilie Reich,  Eva Maria Rogner,  Ira Malaniuk  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
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  • 4.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7705395 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Alexander Borodin,  Bedrich Smetana,  Giovanni Bononcini  ... 
    Performer:  Esther Réthy,  Adele Kern,  Anton Dermota,  Elena Nikolaidi  ... 
    Conductor:  Clemens Krauss,  Leopold Ludwig,  Rudolf Moralt,  Max Schönherr  ... 
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  • 5.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7704647 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Strauss,  Carl Maria von Weber  ... 
    Performer:  Hermann Uhde,  Jerome Hines,  Lisa Della Casa,  Christel Goltz  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry,  Dimitri Mitropoulos,  H. Eckner,  Fausto Cleva  ... 
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  • 6.
    Electrola Querschnitte - Original Opera Highlights 1952-61 / Rudolf Schock
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 283112 Release Date: 05/21/2013   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Adolphe Adam,  Georges Bizet,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  Erna Berger,  Rudolf Schock,  Lisa Otto,  Gottlob Frick  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Schüchter,  Ernst Marzendorfer,  Berislav Klobucar,  Alberto Erede
    CD: $39.99
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  • 7.
    Singers Of The Century - 40 Greats Of  The 20th Century
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 2078 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Ettore Bastianini,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Richard Tucker,  Mario Del Monaco  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 8.
    Solti Conducts The Strauss Operas [15-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746102 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Waldemar Kmentt,  Hilde Gueden,  Eberhard Wächter,  Wilhelm Lenninger  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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    CD: $97.49
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  • 9.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 147 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  Lisa Della Casa,  Richard Lewis
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
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  • 10.
    Richard Strauss Heroines / Nilsson, Price, Della Casa, Gueden, Crespin, Silja
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4805951 Release Date: 03/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Hilde Gueden,  Lisa Della Casa,  Barry McDaniel,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Silvio Varviso,  Karl Böhm,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 11.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: ARPCD0111 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Otto Edelmann,  Lisa Della Casa,  Heinrich Pflanzl,  Gerhard Unger  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
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  • 12.
    Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier / Della Casa, Karajan
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 453200 Release Date: 10/17/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Josef Knapp,  Fritz Sperlbauer,  Hilde Gueden,  Evelyn LaBruce  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Lisa Della Casa Sings Richard Strauss
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1129 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Lisa Della Casa
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Alberto Erede,  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Pfitzner, Strauss / Anton Dermota
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 683102 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Hans Pfitzner,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Anton Dermota,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Erich Kunz,  Lisa Della Casa  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Karl Böhm,  Hans Knappertsbusch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $39.99
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  • 15.
    Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro / Tozzi, Peters, Della Casa, Leinsdorf
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 444602 Release Date: 02/24/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Anny Felbermayer,  George London,  Gabor Carelli,  Giorgio Tozzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Strauss: Arabella / Della Casa, Fischer-Dieskau, Rothenberger, Keilberth
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437700 Release Date: 02/24/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Matthias Mertes,  Karl [bass baritone] Kohn,  Carl Hoppe,  Walter Ehrengut  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 232763 Release Date: 02/15/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Albert Lortzing,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Hans Pfitzner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Rita Streich,  Lisa Della Casa,  Rudolf Schock  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Schüchter,  Arthur Rother,  Richard Kraus,  Joseph Keilberth  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 18.
    Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice / Monteux, Stevens, Della Casa
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 106 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Risë Stevens,  Lisa Della Casa,  Roberta Peters
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 19.
    Live On Stage / Fritz Wunderlich
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001477402 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Strauss,  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Fritz Wunderlich,  Kurt Böhme,  Ingeborg Hallstein,  Josef Knapp  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Heinz Wallberg,  Rudolf Kempe,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 20.
    Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg - 50 Years [25 CDs]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001469202 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Nelson Freire,  Alfred Brendel,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Claudio Abbado,  Sir Georg Solti,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $99.97
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  • 21.
    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Siepi, Gueden, Della Casa, Kleiber
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 2501 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Hilde Gueden,  Cesare Siepi,  Lisa Della Casa,  Suzanne Danco  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kleiber
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    CD: $14.99
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  • 22.
    Da Capo - Opera Highlights
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 149512 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Otto Nicolai,  Richard Wagner,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Armin Ude,  Grace Bumbry,  Siegfried Lorenz,  Sona Cervana  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernhard Klee,  Otmar Suitner,  Hans Vonk,  Václav Neumann  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 23.
    Brahms, Schoeck, Ravel, Schubert, Weill, Strauss / Della Casa, Sandor
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 799091 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Wolf,  Richard Strauss,  Maurice Ravel,  Othmar Schoeck  ... 
    Performer:  Arpád Sándor,  Lisa Della Casa
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  • 24.
    Heritage Masters - Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / E. Kleiber, C. Siepi, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001305402 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Anny Felbermayer,  Murray Dickie,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan,  Harald Pröglhöf  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kleiber
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Strauss: Arabella / Solti, Della Casa, London
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001305202 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Otto Edelmann,  Harald Pröglhöf,  Eberhard Wächter,  Judith Hellwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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