The German baritone Hermann Prey was born in Berlin in 1929. In a career that spanned some 48 years, he became one of the most popular singers of his time and formed a great bond with his audiences through his unaffected and natural style of singing and his personal charm and acting ability. His repertoire was extremely wide and encompassed all the classic German Lieder, as well as a whole range of operatic roles from the lively Figaro of both Mozart and Rossini to more serious baritone parts in Verdi and Wagner, although it is in the lighter roles that he is most affectionately remembered. He enjoyed great success in the world's major opera houses including Vienna, Bayreuth, Salzburg, Munich, Milan and New York, and also appeared frequently on German TV and in opera films. He died in 1998.
The operetta Die Fledermaus is Johann Strauss' most brilliant and best-known stage work. It's a glittering comedy packed with Viennese music that has become a firm favourite in opera houses all over the world. A top international cast really have a ball in this highly-acclaimed 1984 New Year's Eve performance from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in which Placido Domingo makes a very stylish British conducting debut. Kiri Te Kanawa stars with her celebrated performance as Rosalinde, and the charismatic Austrian baritone Hermann Prey is Eisenstein, one of his trademark roles. The cast also includes Benjamin Luxon as Dr Falke and Hildegarde Heichele as Adele. The magnificent stage designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman recreate all the style and opulence of Viennese society in its golden period before the First World War. This production also features some very surprising celebrity guests at Prince Orlofsky's special gala performance party including comedians Hinge and Bracket, French singer Charles Aznavour and Merle Park and Wayne Eagling in Sir Frederick Ashton's specially choreographed pas de deux.
A wonderful rendition of a superb opera in the classical tradition. Superb staging and excellent interpretations of the characters by a cast who very obviously loved what they were doing. The artists are having great fun, and that is what drives this opera… By Bryce Stevens
In all, nothing here is a landmark in the art of lieder singing, but anyone who fondly remembers Prey will find much to reminisce over.
"Karajan's direction is exactly as in the studio: majestic, broadly paced without being inert, vast in dynamic range, always considerate to his soloists, unerring in its preparation and clinching of climaxes." ~BBC Music Magazine