Opera Daily 🎶 — Fritz Wunderlich, Granada

"He sang everything with such love and hope, such passion and fire, that it made you think it was the last performance he was ever going to give."

"The sudden impact of this artist's singing is so spontaneous, so dead right, we just dispense with all the analytical microscopy, sit back and delight in the forceful combination of a sunlit Mediterranean voice quality blended with a Central European musical and dramatic intelligence that only a truly charismatic tenor can provide."

Joseph Calleja, tenor


Today we’re listening to…

Tenor Fritz Wunderlich singing “Granada” — a song written in 1932 by Mexican composer Agustín Lara. While “Granada” is not technically an opera aria, this song is most interpreted in operatic singing style. The text speaks of the Spanish city Granada, where “bullfights stain the ground with blood”, “the music is mesmerizing”, and “passionate lovers meet one another's eyes”.

Unfortunately Wunderlich’s life was cut short when he fell from a staircase in a friend's house. He was 35 years old. Many often wonder where his career would have taken him if he'd lived longer.

The tenor Jonas Kaufmann summed up Wunderlich and this recording so beautifully:

“Fritz Wunderlich’s recording of “Granada” is one of my desert island discs. His singing is incredible, absolutely bursting with energy. He sang everything with such love and hope, such passion and fire, that it made you think it was the last performance he was ever going to give. Whenever he sang, he was not just 100-percent an artist but also 100-percent a human being; there was always a direct link between his feelings and those of his listeners. With him, even shallow music and slushy lyrics sounded like the most beautiful thing in the world.”

They have a saying in sports to “leave it all on the field.” It means: Hold nothing back, put it all on the line. Don’t end the game feeling like you could have given more. Thanks to Fritz Wunderlich for reminding us of what that looks like.

📺 Watch and listen here (4 minute listen), Fritz Wunderlich singing “Granada” by Agustín Lara, Hans Carste conducts the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, 1965

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“Granada” by Agustín Lara

Granada, land of dreams for me
My song becomes gypsy-like when it is for you.
My song made of fantasy, my song a melancholy flower
That I come to give to you.
Granada, blood-stained soil, in bull fight afternoons,
A woman who preserves the enchantment of Moorish eyes.
I dream of you rebellious, a gypsy, covered with flowers
And I kiss your scarlet mouth, juicy apple, that speaks to me of love affairs
Granada, my beautiful sung, in precious verses
I have nothing else to give you, than a bouquet of roses
Of roses of sweet fragrance that framed the dark virgin.
Granada your land is full,
of lovely women, of blood and sun.

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Here are some other interpretations of the piece:

WATCH & LISTEN Placido Domingo
WATCH & LISTEN Luciano Pavarotti
WATCH & LISTEN Juan Diego Flórez
WATCH & LISTEN José Carreras

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And cheers to all the dads, step-dads, uncles, grandfathers, and father figures who have made us into the people we are today. Thanks Dad, for all that you do!

Thank you for reading (and listening),

Michele

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