[Met Performance] CID:121460
Tristan und Isolde {250} Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/13/1937.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
April 13, 1937


TRISTAN UND ISOLDE {250}

Tristan.................Lauritz Melchior
Isolde..................Kirsten Flagstad
Kurwenal................Julius Huehn
Brangäne................Karin Branzell
King Marke..............Emanuel List
Melot...................George Cehanovsky
Sailor's Voice..........Karl Laufkötter
Shepherd................Karl Laufkötter
Steersman...............Louis D'Angelo

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

Review of Denoe Leedy in the Cleveland Press

FLAGSTAD GIVES ROLE OF ISOLDE BEST QUALITIES

Critic Finds "Complete Satisfaction" in Metropolitan's Second Night Program

Richard Wagner's music-drama, "Tristan und Isolde," was given last night in Public Auditorium with some of the most celebrated singers in the Metropolitan Opera contributing their artistry to the performance. Again, as at the [first] night, there was a tremendous audience - the actual count being 9271.

Whether it was Wagner's extraordinary music or the appearance of Kirsten Flagstad which attracted the host of opera lovers, it was obvious that the evening offered nothing but complete satisfaction. "Tristan und Isolde" has received some excellent performances in Cleveland, but it is doubtful if the role of Isolde has even been enacted and sung as it was last night.

Mme. Flagstad is in many respects the perfect interpreter of Wagner's tragic heroine. She makes a superb figure on the stage; moves with a nobility of manner from one dramatic situation to another; is alternately gentle or imperious as the part demands, and shows every evidence of having completely absorbed the various elements which go into a well-rounded projection of what is one of the most difficult roles in the operatic literature.

Voice is Magnificent

Her two recital appearances in Cleveland gave no suggestion of her consummate powers in opera. Against the background of the Wagnerian orchestra, with its unrelenting surge of instrumental sound, her voice stands forth as one of the most magnificent organs it would ever be possible to experience.

It is without doubt exactly the vocal equipment demanded for Isolde. Often one forgets that the sound is issuing from a human throat. This is due to the fact that she senses the instrumental colors and merges her melodic fragments or sweeping phrases with the play of string, brass and woodwind tone.

And what a penetrating musical sense. Each phrase is delivered with that utter rightness which comes only from having gone to the bottom of the musical content. She sings with a rhythmic freedom that lends life to the part. At the same time, she takes no disturbing liberties, content with summoning nothing but the full force of Wagner's puissant music.

Karin Branzell as Brängane likewise contributed to the majesty of the performance. She ranks among the Metropolitan's finest Wagnerian singers, and the role of Isolde's attendant offers her every chance to reveal the full force of her artistic equipment. There were slight discrepancies of pitch as she delivered the song from the watch tower, but these were negligible compared to the constant vocal splendor which poured forth whenever she held the stage.

Melchior in Poor Voice

It is possible that Lauritz Melchior was in poor voice last night. As the chief Wagnerian tenor of the Metropolitan, one can expect him to carry the role of Tristan with authority. However, the peculiar funny quality in his voice destroys some of the part's effectiveness. One is always aware that he was a baritone who became a tenor, and consequently lacks the ringing brilliance needed at times.

Both Emanuel List as King Marke and Julius Huehn as Kurvenal assumed their respective roles with musical and dramatic understanding. List is another of that famous group of Wagnerian singers which has helped make the Metropolitan's productions of the music-dramas the most important part of the company's repertoire.

A word for Artur Bodanzky, who conducted. To all appearances it was extremely sound conducting of "Tristan und Isolde." This was noticeable right from the beginning. The famous Prelude gathered momentum in a logical fashion, and the play of emotions was either held in check or allowed to flood forth as Wagner intended.

Although the Metropolitan's staging of the opera is conservative, the first act was attractive to the eye. So little happens on the stage in a Wagner opera that it doesn't matter much what scenic investiture is contributed as part of the production. The music's the thing - and last night it came to life in a very thrilling manner.



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