16 November 2014

Rudolf Schock

Slim and handsome singer Rudolf Schock (1915–1986) was a lyrical tenor with a wide repertory from operetta to Lieder to Richard Wagner’s romantic opera Lohengrin. He sold over 3 million records and his German films made him almost a superstar of his day.

Rudolf Schock
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf. no. 2080. Photo: Wega / Herzog-Film / Marszalek.

Rudolf Schock
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3409.

Rudolf Schock
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3803. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Astra / Herzog Film.

That Italian 'Tear’ In His Voice

Rudolf Johann Schock was born in 1915 in Duisburg, Germany. In his hometown he made his first stage appearance in 1934 in the Opernchor (Opera Choir). In the 1930s he sang in opera choirs in Duisburg, Bayreuth, and Braunschweig.

Schock had his breakthough in 1944 in Don Pasquale at the Staatsoper in Berlin. In the following years he appeared in a.o. Madame Butterfly, Rigoletto, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, La Traviata, Der Rosenkavalier, and Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute).

Blessed with a mezza-voice that rivaled Beniamino Gigli in sweetness, he had that Italian ‘tear’ in his voice. His voice had an unique recognizable sound. He was one of the first Germans to sing at Covent Garden in 1949. He also made records and performed on the radio.

His first film appearance was in the comedy Es geht nicht ohne Gisela/Without Gisela it does not work (Hans Deppe, 1951).

In 1952 he was offered the lead in the Richard Tauber biography Du bist die Welt für mich/You Are the World for Me (Ernst Marischka, 1953). It made him an instant film star.

A dozen film operettas followed, including Der Fröhliche Wanderer/The Happy Wanderer (Hans Quest, 1955) with Elma Karlowa, Der Czardas-König/The Csardas Princess (Harald Philipp, 1958), and Das Dreimäderlhaus/Lilac Time (Ernst Marischka, 1958) with Karlheinz Böhm.

Rudolf Schock
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1858. Photo: Wesel / Berolina / Herzog Film.

Rudolf Schock
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (Dutch licency holder of Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof), no. 1174. Photo: Ufa / Film-Foto.

Rudolf Schock
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden/Westf. no. 1638. Photo: Berolina / Herzog-Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Der fröhliche Wanderer/The Happy Wanderer (Hans Quest, 1955).

Heldentenor or Spinto Tenor?

Rudolf Schock's most impressive stage performances include the roles of Paul in Die Tote Stadt (Korngold), and multiple Puccini principles.

Wikipedia mentions that his voice fell almost ideally into the heldentenor fach, but Schock explored roles slanted more towards a spinto tenor with effectiveness. Colored distinctly with a rich baritonal quality, Schock's instrument demonstrates impressive flexibility in range and a heroic ring even in its upper reaches.

Schock appeared in many TV adaptations of operettas. A highlight was Der Zigeunerbaron, under the musical direction of Robert Stolz.

Schock also appeared in many shows that were designed especially for him.

Rudolf Schock died in 1986 in Düren-Gürzenich by a heart failure. He was married to ballet dancer Gisela Behrends with whom he had two daughters, Isolde and Dagmar.

Rudolf Schock
German card by Eurodisc. Photo: Grimm.

Rudolf Schock
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 267. Photo: Melodie-Film / Herzog-Film / Grimm (Arthur Grimm).

Rudolf Schock
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 3656. Photo: Ufa.

Rudolf Schock sings Schenk mir dein Herz, Lucia (Give Me Your Heart, Lucia) in the film Stimme der Sehsucht/Voice of Longing (Thomas Engel, 1956). Source: fritz51289 (YouTube).

Sources: Fred Bredschneyder (Dutch), Rudolf Schock tribute site (Dutch/German), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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