Agnes Baltsa is one of Greece’s gift to the opera world. Born on Nov. 19, 1944, the mezzo-soprano put together one of the most exciting opera careers in the 20th century.
She actually started playing the piano at age six and moved to Athens at the age of 14 to concentrate on developing her voice. From there she climbed the ladder of operatic growth, making her first appearance in an opera as Cherubino in “Le Nozze di Figaro” in Frankfurt. From there it was more and more growth, the mezzo performing under the leading conductors of her day.
She also made quite a number of famed recordings, including the three that we will relate in this piece.
From Greece with Love
A love letter from the mezzo to her home country, the album was recorded alongside the Athens Experimental Orchestra under the musical direction of Stavros Xarhakos. The tracks include a wide range of songs from Greece. Baltsa also recorded “Songs My Country Taught Me” in 1985, which also featured music from her native land. Here is “Mera Magioú.”
I Capuleti e Montecchi
Perhaps not one of her famous recordings, but still one that cannot be overlooked. As Romeo, Baltsa provides sweetness in this famed Bellini opera, coupling quite beautifully with Edita Gruberova in one of the finest versions of this rarely performed (for the time) work. Here is the recording in its entirety.
The Greek artist’s most iconic role, Baltsa took it on with a number of famous tenors, most notably José Carreras, with whom she also recorded the work under Herbert Von Karajan. Her interpretation was always noted for its sense of fiery freedom and “brazen femininity.” She was often noted for being a femme fatale in the role and her raw intensity gave the character a power and strength not often seen in more “refined” interpretations.