Arie der Agathe
mit vorausgehender Szene
Wie nahte mir der Schlummer (Nr. 8),
im zweiten Akt von Webers Der Freischütz.

Claire Dux


Claire Dux, with the Franco-Polish name, was born in 1885 in what was then Bromberg in Prussia and is now in western Poland. She studied in Berlin and plied her early trade in Cologne. Her career escalated and by 1909 she was singing Mimi with Caruso, signing for the Hofoper in Berlin, and taking engagements to appear for Beecham at the first British Rosenkavalier at Covent Garden. The war interrupted her career but she was young enough to resume, albeit patchily, afterwards but friction led to an estrangement from the Hofoper and she travelled to America, though not to the Met. Her operatic career then rather trailed off and she gave a series of lieder recitals before the Second War. She also made a series of increasingly interesting marriages – to the writer Imperatori, the actor Hans Albers and the finally the man always rather gleefully referred to as “the multimillionaire meat-packing magnate” Charles Swift.

She was a beautiful singer with a technique that sounds in the main effortlessly effective. The sheer quality of the voice can be gauged early from the Marriage of Figaro sides recorded in 1916 for Grammophon. The singing has a fluid grace and elegance and an appealing timbre. But what it also shows critically speaking is a weak chest voice – sample the German language Endlich nacht sich die Stunde where one feels the disparity in registral strength. Nur zu flüchtig is similarly beautiful as regards the actual quality of the voice but there is evidence of rather uneven vocal production such that the legato is slightly compromised. I don’t think anyone would feel short-changed by her Weber in terms of timbre, control or articulacy but perhaps one might in terms of dramatic projection. For all her many beauties – of tone, of inflection – there are moments when she comes over as a rather static artist. This element of remove might possibly explain why she failed to compete in the burgeoning post-war operatic world – given that a number of sides here date from 1920 and sound similarly reserved it might explain why her operatic performances were limited subsequently to smaller houses.

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