Anne Schwanewilms press reviews
ANNE SCHWANEWILMS (Extract from programme article for Anne Schwanewilms Liederabend at L'Opera National du Rhin, Strasbourg, March 8, 2008)
"Anne Schwanewilms belongs to a pedigree of sopranos almost forgotten today: a line which stretches back beyond Elisabeth Grummer to Tiana Lemnitz, Meta Seinemeyer and, above all, to Delia Reinhardt. All of them, by their bearing and control, and without a single unnecessary effect of gesture or voice, understood how to disseminate a radiance from the stage. They were self-effacing and expressed themselves through word and music alone. By the liquidity of their tone and the naturalness of their expression, they created that sympathy which is the truest communication of all.
With Schwanewilms, there were, first of all, the supreme moments at Glyndebourne. [...] In EURYANTHE she rediscovered the lost secret of the heroine whose luminous, silent spirituality is the model for Wagner's Elsa. In IDOMENEO the raging and follies of her Elettra brought into the open, with a controlled desperation, the inner torments of a conflicted soul. No wonder the characters of Richard Strauss, with their spirit and different levels of soul, inspired by the words and feelings given them by Hofmannsthal, should have pressed themselves on an artist born with the inflexion which says everything because it says just enough. Earlier, as a mezzo, she coloured eloquently the full range of her tessitura. As a soprano, she has chosen to float rather then strike, taking the route of Desdemona, not Salome. She has sung Strauss's Chrysothemis (the most youthful and unsophisticated of his heroines), Ariadne and, finally, the Marschallin.
Towards the end of Act One on the unhappy stage of the Bastille [in January 2006], the hyperactive production had finally calmed down and the sublime music of solitude and reflection, conducted with ideal transparency by Philippe Jordan, could finally begin. That was when the real curtain rose on this ROSENKAVALIER, with the monologue in which the magical symbolism of words and music began to take hold and make sense. A rapt silence gripped a house whose acoustic up to that point seemed constructed of metal. Now it was all honey and silk, and the melancholy of a painful rift. Somewhre in heaven, Hofsmannthal must have been weeping, while Strauss smiled. This miracle lasted half an hour.
At Salzburg, as the very different Carlotta Nardi in Schreker's DIE GEZEICHNETEN, equally risky and daring, Schwanewilms created afresh the achievement of Delia Reinhardt in the role. She maintained a classic equilibrium and extraordinary bearing throughout the long act, at first fine and reserved and then, in the baring, and gift, of herself, scorching. When an artist has this rare ability, on stage, to obliterate the supposed borders and contradictions between the internal and the external, then another kingdom lies open: the Lied." by Andre Tubeuf, author of Wagner et Bayreuth; Le Lied Allemand; and Richard Strauss, ou le Voyager et son Ombre
ANNE SCHWANEWILMS (Extract from article on 'Heroine Addiction' by James C Whitson, Opera News, October 2009)
"...Schwanewilms's riveting 'Es Gibt ein Reich' is a sterling example of vocal shading and nuance. Her incredible stillness, coupled with a well-deployed straight tone, commands complete attention, and one can sense the entire audience holding its breath."
OTELLO (in concert) (London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall, December, 2009)
"Anne Schwanewilms is a great Straussian (when will we see her Marschallin at Covent Garden?)...The Act 3 ensemble was ravishing and Act 4 was simply sublime. Schwanewilms's 'Willow Song' was utterly beautiful, with a still, concentrated sadness that only she among current sopranos can bring..." whatsonstage.com
"Translucent-toned Anne Schwanewilms was cast a little against the Italianate ideal of Desdemona...Still, my old English master...would have approved her poise and sympathy. In short, she was a Pre-Raphaelite madonna rather than Verdi's more fleshly Titian woman. You felt that if anyone could have willed this Otello to engage, she would have managed it...when making chamber music alone with Sir Colin and the LSO in the eeire twilight of the 'Willow Song' and the pure relief of the 'Ave Maria." theartsdesk.com
"Anne Schwanewilms was also unexpected casting as Desdemona - we know her from her outstanding interpretations of Germanic repertoire...However, she does know how to float high pianissimos and has the power needed for the Act Three finale. Dramatically she was extremely convincing, and her Act Four 'Willow Song' and 'Ave Maria' scene was profound." classicalsource.com
"Desdemona's purity and incorruptibility were perfectly evoked in the unearthly silvery soprano of Anne Schwanewilms..." intermezzo.typepad.com
"...the Act IV 'Willow Song' was an extremely poignant mixture of regret, sadness, and courage...Anne Schwanewilms's Desdemona crossed herself at the end of the 'Ave Maria' and 'expired' in her seat to offer a final hint of the real drama of Verdi's great tragedy." musicweb-international.com
"...her 'Willow Song' was exquisite." The Times
ARABELLA (Frankfurt Opera, January, 2009)
"In Anne Schwanewilms as Arabella and Britta Stallmeister as Zdenka, the Frankfurt Opera has singers who not only fulfill the immense demands of their own roles brilliantly, but also harmonize with each other to perfection. The famous duet of the two sisters, "Aber der richtige...", was the first magical moment of many which made this performance musically so exceptional. In the closing scene of the first act ('Mein Elemer!') Schwanewilms made credible the basic theme of Hofmannsthal's libretto, Arabella's transformation from frivolous and pleasure-seeking girl into openly loving woman. Her performance dramatised Arabella's ever-deepening maturity, turning her finally into a younger sister of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She began the evening using a deliberately light, almost dry tone and saved her most blooming legato for the great scene of forgiveness at the end." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Anne Schwanewilms's role-debut as Arabella is a sensation. Her acting is sensitive and subtle, the slender voice-production and brilliant expressiveness entirely convincing. Her freely flowing soprano combines tenderness with intensity and is the emotional focus of the whole evening." Hanauer Anzeiger