[Met Performance] CID:121330
Tristan und Isolde {249} Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/1/1937.


Boston, Massachusetts
April 1, 1937


Tristan.................Lauritz Melchior
Isolde..................Kirsten Flagstad
Kurwenal................Julius Huehn
Brangäne................Karin Branzell
King Marke..............Emanuel List
Melot...................Arnold Gabor
Sailor's Voice..........Hans Clemens
Shepherd................Karl Laufkötter
Steersman...............James Wolfe

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky

Review of Cyrus Durgin in the Boston Globe


Review of [First] Performance in Season Which Includes Five German Operas

The fourth Boston visit of the Metropolitan Opera is as many years began admirably last evening with that unparalleled drama in music - Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde." No opera season could more fittingly start, from an artistic point of view, than with this gorgeous and still incredible recreation of human emotions, communicated upon a score ravishingly beautiful, glowing with unquenchable fires.

The first night of an opera engagement is proverbially an "occasion" before as well as behind the footlights, broad in scope and vivid of color. The years have somewhat changed, however, the spectacle on the far side of the orchestra pit. An increasing public has found more to its taste, in recent seasons, this example of sovereign genius, and to an extent has foresworn even the brass bands and pageantry of "Aida," the ballet and marching soldiers of "Faust."

So it was last evening, with a brilliant house listening rapt to the prelude of the music-drama, swiftly and pointedly "shushing" latecomers and applauding without stint at the end of each act.

Again the protagonists were Kirsten Flagstad, probably the most famous diva of this generation, and Laurtiz Melchior, whose impersonation of the ill-destined knight is for many of us a standard of comparison. It occurred to one listener, before he had looked at his program that Mme. Flagstad's voice was not quite at its best. An inserted leaflet testified to the singer's courageous determination to carry on despite indisposition.

Yet in good voice or not, Kirsten Flagstad is a glorious Isolde. There she sings every measure as, no doubt, Wagner himself would have delighted to hear. If Jean de Reszke was first to insist that Wagner's music is really lyrical, it has been such great artists as Mme. Flagstad who have persisted in convincing a once recalcitrant world that "Tristan und Isolde" is not only music-drama, but a continuous song. Her acting of Isolde furnishes example that are few who can proclaim the arduous music of the Irish Princess as freely, amply and with as little apparent effort as she. What is more, operatic acting need not be constrained or rudimentary. Her first act reveals an imperious and outraged noblewoman, the second a woman inevitably and, in a literal sense, hopelessly in love. No small detail is too slight to be neglected. This, in short, is extraordinarily fine acting.

Mr. Melchior sang the difficult "vision" of the third act better than one remembers it to have been even, in his superb past performances. Nor does he, in turn, spare any valid dramatic touches to make Tristan's plight most poignantly real.

Once again it was pleasurable to see and hear the intelligent Brangäne of Karin Branzell. Mr. List's King Marke, as last year, proved a noble conception, though there was a suggestion, as with Mme. Branzell, that the voice may have been a little tired.

The Kurvenal of Mr. Huehn, new to Boston, pleased by amplitude of voice and style, though this promising young singer is still prone to look at the conductor in dramatic moments which indicate freedom for acting. As a further testimony to Wagner's essential lyricism, Mr. Laufkötter, who made his Boston debut, as the Shepherd, sang his short part impeccably.

Mr. Bodanzky and the orchestra scaled expressive heights in the first and third acts.

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