From Don Carlos to Don Giovanni
Shortly after he was appointed General Music Director of City Opera Berlin (1948), Ferenc Fricsay summed up his first piano rehearsal for the Don Carlos première with young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: “I never imagined that I would find an Italian baritone in Berlin!”
Fricsay realized that my few stage rehearsals would not be sufficient to assure a worthy im-pression for my first appearance, so I then had the benefit of many valuable personal sessions with him. He showed me how a hero should stand, ready to jump like a young horse, or how his hand should rest quietly on his sword.
I admired the way Fricsay, with great patience, succeeded in communicating his concept of sound. It was a triumph of musical leadership; the music received its rightful value.
After the stress of the première was over, I enjoyed being carried along in the performances with Fricsay’s singing and breathing involvement. Because his eyes were almost always on the stage, he reacted to the slightest fluctuation or improvisation of the artists. If my opera debut had taken place under a less auspicious star and without his sensitive guidance, it is not certain that my career would have gone forward so rapidly and successfully.
The opening of the newly built German Opera Berlin in autumn 1961 proved to be his farewell. Even as he appeared at the first rehearsal, pale and shockingly thin, there was no doubt but that his old passionate and glowing love for what he wanted to express in music had become even more intensive.
To have met him and accompanied him for a while on the path of his short life, is a gift for which one can only be grateful.
Dietrich Fischer Dieskau