1955 THE CONCERT OF FINALISTS
With only two First Prize winners and the soon to be Dutch star tenor Arjan Blanken absent because he was under contract to sing in Augsburg, the 2 ND IVC Gala Concert did not start out very promising.
W.B. in Het Huisgezin also noted that the Dutch KRO Radio archives had not been able to provide scores for the arias requested by the winning participants, which resulted in them having to sing much of Händel’s The Messiah and Rinaldo, whereas the public craved a romantic opera gala with Verdi, Wagner, Gounod and Puccini. Those circumstances left Second prize winner bass Albert van Haasteren at an advantage, with his aria from Verdi’s Don Carlo, which made decidedly more impact than First Prize winner Jean Capiaux’ renditions of Händel and Berlioz, wrote W.B. in Het Huisgezin:
‘Capiaux’’ vocal qualities were not very suited to these pieces, which left one wondering why he had been awarded a First Prize Van Haasteren only a Second prize. For those who only come to see the concert, the final results might have appeared strange. Likewise, the crowned German alto Eva Bornemann could not shine as one would have wished in an aria from Elias, even though she rendered it in a very artistic way, with all the warmth and lavishness that her voice can give.’ (W.B., ‘Internationaal Vocalistenconcours,’ Het Husigezin, October 10, 1955)
Although the winner of the audience’s applause, W.B. thought Van Haasteren’s Leporello aria still in need of the comical touch. Excellent in his ears was Willem van der Sluys’ rendition of an aria from Don Giovanni, which was sung with immaculate breath control.
Perhaps the reason that we do not possess the complete program for this concert is to be found in the critic’s observation that there weren’t enough programs available for all. While he was the first to admit that he had not expected to hear the new Kathleen Ferrier, Jos Orelio or Jacques Urlus in this concert of debutants, he still thought that there had been too little time to prepare things well and recommended to take a few more days in between finals and concert. While labeling the concert a near failure, he also acknowledged that the public had a completely different perception, since they cheered all singers on with enthusiasm, and gave them endless ovations.
Benelux Competition Concluding Gala Concert *
|‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’
|Rinaldo ‘Lascia, ch’io pianga’
|The Messiah ‘??’ *
|Guillaume Tell ‘Overture’
Elias ‘Sei stille dem herrn’ *
|La damnation de Faust ‘Une Puce Gentille’
The Messiah ‘??’ (in French) *
|Albert van Haasteren
|Don Giovanni ‘Madamina, il catalogo è questo’ **
Don Giovanni ‘Il mio tesoro’ ***
|Albert van Haasteren
Don Carlo ‘Ella giamai m’amo’ **
| * Due to the described omission of the actual concert program in our archives, the reviews in our possession leave us with the table as reconstructed above. The order is approximate, based on the order of appearance in a review from De Tijd.
** Albert van Haasteren’s two IVC Gala Concert recordings were kindly given to us by him.
*** The newspaper mentions ‘register aria’ with respect to Van der Sluys’ Don Giovanni piece, but this is obviously a mistake, since that is a reference to Leporello’s catalogue aria for bass-baritone. We believe that the tenor Van der Sluys most likely sang ‘Il mio Tesoro.’