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“Master Class with Julia Varady: Le Passage du Flambeau” is a 2009
DVD release of a Bruno Monsaingeon film. It provides an intimate
look at a “hands-on” vocal master class, conducted by Hungarian-born
soprano, Julia Varady. Unlike many vocal master classes that are
actually performances with scant criticism, Mme. Varady provides
these young opera singers with “phrase by phrase” vocal coaching,
while diagnosing and treating their individual challenges. Mme. Varady’s
comments are punctuated by her actual “full voice” demonstration
of the technical and interpretive guidance she’s providing!

Many people only know of her as the wife of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,
who is probably the most recorded baritone of all time. That
misnomer should be corrected, as Mme. Varady sang professionally
for nearly 40 years in more than 70 operatic roles, before retiring to teach.
In fact, this film intersperses the master class with footage from
actual concert performances given in 1998, with Fischer-Dieskau
conducting.

With Daniela Musca at the piano, Mme. Varady provides dynamic
guidance in various operatic excerpts to singers Teresa Hörl,
Sarah van der Kemp, Diana Krauss, Anna Molina, Theresa Kronthaler,
and Evelina Dobraceva. In addition to the aforementioned coaching,
Mme. Varady also reveals performance strategies these singers
can use to protect their voices.

The film culminates with a concert performance by Mme. Varady of
the aria, “Come Scoglio,” from Mozart’s opera, “Cosi Fan Tutte,”
under the baton of Fischer-Dieskau. A generous bonus section
contains footage of the entire master class.

“Le Passage du Flambeau” essentially translates to mean “the
passing of the torch,” which is exactly what Mme. Varady is doing
here. Singers, opera lovers and fans will be fascinated by her
unbridled enthusiasm and rock-solid technique. While we can
no longer purchase a ticket to see her perform, the contributions
she makes through “Julia Varady: Le Passage du Flambeau,” are
a wonderful consolation prize.