[Met Performance] CID:130770
Tristan und Isolde {288} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/4/1941.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 4, 1941


TRISTAN UND ISOLDE {288}

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

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

Review of Henry Pleasants in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

The 'Met' Gives a Moving "Tristan und Isolde"

The production of "Tristan und Isolde" which the Metropolitan brought to the Academy of Music, last night, was not the less moving for all its familiarity.

The principals were Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Kerstin Thorborg, Julius Huehn and Emanuel List, as they have been many times before. It is an historic cast, one by which casts in the future will be measured, and not the least of its virtues are those which come by long experience as a unit.

But the unity of this production is a composite of brilliant individual contributions. Mme. Flagstad's Isolde is one of the few really great vocal achievements of this generation, and has long since taken its place with the outstanding Isoldes of history, those of Lehmann, Nordica, Ternina and Gadski.

According to commentators who heard the earlier Isoldes, hers most closely resembles that of Ternina, which the late W. J. Henderson used to describe simply as "most musical." Certainly Mme. Flagstad's singing last night was a constantly joyous revelation reaching its climax in a performance of the Liebestod which seemed, from the vocal point of view, at least, almost incredibly perfect.

Great Tristans have been rarer than great Isoldes, and one would probably have to go back to Jean de Reszke to find Mr. Melchior's equal or superior. His Tristan is admirably conceived, and save for the huskiness of the sotto voce in the "O Sink hernieder" episode, it is extremely well sung. The trying last act is his supreme accomplishment, the huskiness of the soft voice being as well suited to this act as it is ill suited to the second.

Mme. Thorborg's Brangäne is s similarly superior characterization, admirably sung and beautifully acted. In Kurvenal, Julius Huehn enjoys his best role and provides a worthy third act companion for Mr. Melchior. Mr. List's King Marke is uninteresting, but so is King Marke and so is his music, which is no longer cut. Erich Leinsdorf celebrated his 29th birthday last night by doing the best conducting he has ever done in Philadelphia.



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