Episode 64. Jorma Hynninen in Opera (Great Baritones I)



This is the first of two episodes I have planned in honor of the great Finnish baritone Jorma Hynninen, who turns 80 in 2021. The focus today is on his work in opera. His stylistic range was unusually large: during the years in which he appeared internationally he triumphed in roles ranging from Mozart to Verdi to the title role in Eugene Onegin in opera houses around the world. What is perhaps less well-remembered is that he also was a phenomenal Pelléas and also a distinguished Wagnerian, singing Wolfram, Amfortas, and Kurwenal, among other parts. All of these are featured in today’s episode, as well as arias and scenes from operas by Strauss, Dallapiccola, and Hindemith. Jorma Hynninen made his greatest contribution to the field, however, in his legendary creations in the world of Finnish opera. The second portion of the program features excerpts of his performances in works by pioneers Leevi Madetoja and Aarre Merikanto and continues with roles he created in operas by Aulis Sallinen and Einojuhani Rautavaara. Though he retired from opera in 2012, he continues to concertize in Finland; in the fall of 2019 he embarked on a brief concert tour with a voice nearly untouched by the years. Mirella Freni, Hildegard Behrens, and Victoria de los Ángeles are also featured in the episode. Join me in an exploration of the operatic career of this extraordinary singer.

Countermelody is a podcast devoted to the glory and the power of the human voice raised in song. Singer and vocal aficionado Daniel Gundlach explores great singers of the past and present focusing in particular on those who are less well-remembered today than they should be. Daniel’s lifetime in music as a professional countertenor, pianist, vocal coach, voice teacher, and journalist yields an exciting array of anecdotes, impressions, and “inside stories.” Occasional guests from the “business” (singers, conductors, composers, coaches, and teachers) lend their distinctive insights. At Countermelody’s core is the interaction between singers of all stripes, their instruments, and the connection they make to the words they sing. Please visit the Countermelody website (www.countermelodypodcast.com) for additional content. And please head to our Patreon page at www.patreon.com/countermelody to pledge your monthly support at whatever level you can afford. Bonus episodes available only to Patreon supporters are currently available, including a new extra episode further exploring today’s topic.


2 thoughts on “Episode 64. Jorma Hynninen in Opera (Great Baritones I)

  1. As I don’t know how to make the IT connections to hear your pods yet – a problem of being 89,I guess – I am very impressed at your idea and will get help!. A friend in the US just recently told me about your work because of your two programs on Jorma Hynninen. I have virtually all of his recordings and even got John Steane to mention him in the Gram – he couldn’t do a proper review because none of his records were available in the UK. We have been corresponding friends for years since our initial meeting in NY1985 was cut short by my wife and I moving to Australia in 1987 so we missed his last performances at the met. I finally spent a week with him in Helsinki in 2015 and heard him in three concerts. Two of his pianists and my opinionated self convinced him he could still do yet another Winterreise! His immaculate bel canto a la Garcia was in better shape than what .a few of hi last recordings indicated so don’t stop you’re back in top form!, we yelled. Simply put I fell in love with his voice at a concert at the Frick Gallery but was overwhelmed by his first Winterreise on Fuga Lp as was John Steane by the way. I got Tim Page to do a review of it in the Times and we got quite a few orders at the shop I was working in. Fuga also allowed us to put it out on a very high quality tape. So when I get my connection to your pod set up I’ll give you some feedback but I feel sure I’ll have little to add.
    Arthur Lawrence 9/9/31

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