Rita Gorr, the Belgian mezzo, died on Sunday in Spain where she lived. One of the great exponents of the roles of Dalila, Eboli, Mère Marie (Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites) and Charlotte (Werther), Gorr (born Marguerite Geirnaert) made her debut in 1949 in the role of Fricka in Wagner’s Die Walküre.
Early performances in France and Germany sealed her reputation and, following a win at a singing competition in Lausanne, she was engaged by the Opéra de Paris. Remaining with the company until 1957, Gorr returned to Strasbourg and sang with that company for 15 years. She appeared at many of the world’s greatest opera houses making her debut at Bayreuth in 1958, Covent Garden (1959), La Scala (1960) and the Met in 1962.
On disc she can be heard as Ortrud in Erich Leinsdorf’s recording of Lohengrin, as Amneris in the Solti set of Aida, as Fricka in Knappertsbusch’s Walküre, as Delila in the Prêtre set of Samson et Dalila, and as both Mère Marie and Mme de Croissy in versions of Poulenc’s Carmélites conducted by Pierre Dervaux (1958) and Kent Nagano (1992).
She gave her final performance as the Countess in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades in July 2006.
Here, from 1960, is the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Rita Gorr is joined by a Parisian orchestra conducted by Pierre Michel le Conte. AUDIO ONLY