[Met Performance] CID:127290
Tristan und Isolde {275} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/21/1939.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 21, 1939 Matinee


TRISTAN UND ISOLDE {275}
Wagner-Wagner

Tristan.................Lauritz Melchior
Isolde..................Kirsten Flagstad
Kurwenal................Julius Huehn
Brangäne................Kerstin Thorborg
King Marke..............Emanuel List
Melot...................George Cehanovsky
Sailor's Voice..........Karl Laufkötter
Shepherd................Karl Laufkötter
Steersman...............John Gurney

Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf

Director................Leopold Sachse
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert

Tristan und Isolde received ten performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in the Sun

"Tristan" Sung

Flagstad in Wagner Work, Conducted by Leinsdorf

Opera at its opposite poles attracted large audiences to the Metropolitan yesterday afternoon and evening. Music drama held the boards at the matinee, opera buffa at night. Listening with rapt attention to "Tristan und Isolde" were standees who compared in number, if not in audibility, with those who tittered or laughed outright from behind the rail at the farcical sallies of "Barber of Seville."

The Wagner work was given for the benefit of the Manhattan Music School, formerly the Neighborhood Music School, and thus made its season's entry outside of the subscription round. The performance had its special point of interest in the conducting of Erich Leinsdorf, this being another of the first essayals that have weighed heavily on the shoulders of the twenty-seven year old Viennese since he was called upon to take over Artur Bodanzky's repertory.

But it was the singing of Kirsten Flagstad that lingers in the memory as the really notable feature of this performance. The Norse soprano has enriched her portrait with many significant new touches. Her acting of the role is much more detailed that it was in her first season here. But it is the splendor of the voice that lifts her Isolde beyond comparison on the operatic stage of today. Why she should have evaded the two high C's in the second act after achieving so brilliantly the B's in the first must have puzzled many besides the reviewers.

Lauritz Melchior was not in his most dependable voice and his Tristan was on the ragged edge through much of the second act. As customary with him, however, he met the terrific exactions of the hour-long scene of Tristan's death with skill and conviction. Kersten Thorborg's Brangäne and Emanuel List's Marke maintained their familiar standards. Julius Huehn's Kurvenal has ripened further and is well on the way to being a really first-rate achievement. But he still over-energizes the veteran servitor.

No such stricture need be applied to Mr. Leinsdorf's conducting. Orchestrally yesterday afternoon's performance was peculiarly lacking in intensity. The playing had euphony and was always well in hand. Mr. Leinsdorf knew his score and he knew how to control his orchestra. But from the Prelude to the final curtain there was little of any enkindling fire. The orchestral surge of the "Liebestod" became almost a mere accompaniment for the voice, whereas it is the voice that rightfully is an obbligato suspended above that symphonic surge.



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