// Belcanto - The Tenors of the 78 Era
// 5 Slezak (1873-1946)
scene: A meadow above Lake Tegern, where Slezak spent his vacations. The Bavarian farmers still remember theit former neighbour.
music: Meyerbeer, Mill√∂cker, Rossini, Verdi, Raimund, Hugo Wolf, Robert Stolz
We remember him as a film comedian, a humorous writer, and generally as a man with great sense of humour - but that was only in the last phase of his life. The heroic singer, the giant of a man, his Manrico, Lohengrin, Radames - they all tend to be forgotten. (H√∂slinger) He is a heroic tenor without the slightest shadow of baritone. A singer with no influence from Caruso, who darkened the voice and made it sort of masculine. (Kesting)
Slezak swings up into the greatest heights with no effort at all, in a way that has remained unique to the present day. Not even Pavarotti could sing at this height in such a relaxed way. We can hear that Slezak hardly needs to exert any effort at all to rise to these regions, and for a tenor these are the glaciers or the Himalayas. (Kesting) Many singers will end up emphasizing resolutions of dissonances, notes that occur on weak beats. You don't find that with Slezak. Once the dissonance is passed he will make a diminuendo, and thereby he reflects in the vocal line what is happening harmonically. He mirrors the harmonic structure. (Zucker) He beguiles you, he wooes you, he caresses you, he makes love to the song. The song sung by just about anybody else would be trivial, would be kitsch. When he does it, it becomes delicious art. (Zucker)
These songs bring out the kind of person he really was - a deeply sensitive person. Slezak suffered terribly as a result of the changes in our century. For him almost the whole world disappeared with the collapse of the monarchy. In all the years after 1918 he never found what used to exist. (H√∂slinger) I sent him this card on his 70th birthday, and he answered at once. (Schlesinger) "Dear Lady, I must thank you most sincerely for your kind thoughts and the lovely painting with all my roles. I was deeply touched. May God grant that we may soon return to life. I kiss your hand most humbly - Slezak."