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Borkh holds the record for singing more than 350 performances of Elektra.My desert island recording of Elektra is the 1957 Salzburg broadcast (available officially on Orfeo but also on several other cheaper labels) conducted by Mitropoulos with an all-star supporting cast that includes della Casa, Jean Madeira, Max Lorenz, and Kurt Bohme.Wieland Wagner begged her to become his`ideal Brunnhilde, but Borkh refused.A big part of his attraction was the voice, of course, but she also, ironically, possessed the perfect Aryan looks for Brunnhilde: she was tall, blond and had an extraordinary bone structure.In fact, they proved to be her last performances on any operatic stage after a long career spanning some 35 years.She made her operatic debut in 1940 in Switzerland where her Jewish father moved the family to escape the Nazis.
There are no duds or filler on this CD; Dvorak's 'Song to the Moon from RUSALKA is truly one of the loveliest things I have ever heard. Borkh's dramatic soprano was warmer than Nilson's and more even than Varnay's.
Borkh's voice, to my ears, was more akin to such warmer, womanly dramatic voices as Flagstad and Farrell, rather than a Nilsson, Varnay. One could see why Fritz Reiner chose her to record his famous Elektra and Salome excerpts on RCA despite Borkh's relationship with Decca.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that Borkh was chosen by Rudolf Bing for new productions of both Salome and Elektra over her competition.
Bohm was infamous for imposing cuts on virtually everything he conducted, but these are the same cuts used by Ozawa and Sinopoli on their respective recordings and they should have known better.
Perhaps she is best known for the first LP recording of Turandot with Tebaldi and Del Monaco. I always felt that the Decca engineers didn't record her well because her extremely large voice has little impact, especially when by contrast the hectoring Calaf of Del Monaco manages to effectively scream throughout the opera - probably at the star tenor's insistence.