Obituaries for Aug. 25, 2009

Warren Hamilton, Hildegard Behrens

Warren Hamilton, a sound editor in Hollywood for more than three decades, died Aug. 17 of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 76.

Hamilton served as a sound effects editor on "Speed" (1994), which won the Oscar for best sound, and on Oscar sound nominees "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986) and "Total Recall" (1990). He earned Golden Reel Awards from the Motion Picture Sound Editors group for his work on "Speed," "Oliver & Company" (1988) and "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), said his son, Craig Hamilton.

Other credits include "The Hitcher" (1986); Tim Burton films "Beetlejuice" (1988) and "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), "Batman Returns" (1992), "The Bodyguard" (1993), "Apollo 13" (1996) and "Jackie Brown" (1997). Hamilton was a past president of the MPSE.

Hamilton, whose father worked in the art department at MGM and Fox, began as a story editor for Warner Bros. in 1960 on such shows as "77 Sunset Strip" and "Hawaiian Eye."

Survivors include son Craig, a copyright administrator for Warner Bros., and daughter Jenene, who works for the screenplay clearance firm Marshall/Plumb Research Associates.

Hildegard Behrens, a soprano who was one of the finest Wagnerian performers of her generation, died Aug. 18 of an apparent aneurysm while traveling in Japan. She was 72.

Organizers of Behrens' visit said she was in Japan to perform at a music festival and then give lessons at a hot springs resort.

Behrens was among the finest actors on the opera stage during a professional career that spanned more than three decades. She made her professional stage debut in Freiburg as the countess in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" in 1971 and made her New York Metropolitan Opera debut as Giorgetta in Puccini's "Il Tabarro" in 1976.

One of her breakthrough roles came the following year when she sang the title role in Strauss' "Salome" at the Salzburg Festival in Austria.

She sang 171 performances at the Met, where she appeared until 1999. She was most acclaimed in the late 1980s and early '90s for her portrayal of Bruennhilde in the Otto Schenk production of the Ring Cycle, the Met's first televised staging of Wagner's tetralogy.

"She is the finest Bruennhilde of the post-Birgit Nilsson era," Associated Press critic Mike Silverman wrote in 1989. "Though she lacks the overpowering vocal resources of a great Wagnerian soprano, she makes up for that with dramatic intensity as she changes before our eyes from a frisky young Valkyrie to a passionate and then betrayed lover, and finally to a compassionate woman whose sacrifice returns the ring to its rightful owners, the Rhinemaidens."
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