[Met Performance] CID:131580
Tristan und Isolde {294} Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/15/1941.


Cleveland, Ohio
April 15, 1941


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

Conductor...............Edwin McArthur [Last performance]

Review of Herbert Elwell in the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Huge Crowd Finds Flagstad Maintains Her Power

The size of last night's audience for the Metropolitan's performance of "Tristan und Isolde" in Public Hall was again a forceful reminder that this Wagnerian masterpiece has become a best-seller. Either the enormous crowd was attracted principally by the presence of the famed Kirsten Flagstad in the role of Isolde or whether the opera-going public actually loves this music drama for its intrinsic beauty is a question which must remain unanswered. But the fact that so heavy a work is now in popular favor, when only two decades ago it was still considered a financial risk, is something to ponder.

"Tristan" has been given her four times within the last five years by the Metropolitan, and among the principals in the cast there has been very little change. Flagstad as Isolde and Lauritz Melchior as Tristan continue to captivate a faithful and enthusiastic public by their mastery of the gigantic task which Wagner set for the hero and heroine of this immortal love drama. Their popularity is justified by a degree of competence that will forever remain one of the glories of operatic history.

It is late in the day to be singing the praises of Flagstad. Yet one cannot refrain from expressing again unqualified admiration for her extraordinary gifts. She has reached tremendous heights in this role in former appearances here. She has turned in performances which exhaust all the superlatives which one can bestow upon great singing and great acting. Yet her re-creation of the role last night was fully as inspiring as any she has given here, and the fact that she still imbues the part with the same freshness and overwhelming power she has shown on former occasions makes it even more difficult to describe adequately her magnificent accomplishment.

Holds to High Standard

In her work there was not the slightest deviation from her own high standard. Her voice was superbly free and clear, and it rang out above the rich orchestral fabric with startling poignancy.

Melchior was also at his best, offering irreproachable routine and his usual high-minded conception of the part of Tristan. Kerstin Thorborg was again an excellent Brangäne, and Julius Huehn, as always, gave convincing life to the part of Kurvenal.

High praise also goes to Alexander Kipnis for his King Marke and to Emery Darcy for his double duty as Melot and the off-stage part of the sailor. The parts of the shepherd and the steersman were ably taken by Karl Laufkötter and John Gurney.

One really important change from the production as presented here in the past was in the person of the conductor. We have heard "Tristan" given here under the baton of the late Artur Bodanzky and also under Erich Leinsdorf. This was the first performance here to be conducted by the American Edwin McArthur, who was listed in the program as "guest conductor."

His ability, as demonstrated last night, was such as to explode the notion that we must depend upon foreign-born conductors. His penetration of the score appeared thorough and authoritative. He was alive to the passionate current of emotion which flows throughout the drama. He obtained effective response from the orchestra as well as the singers and projected the music with results as significant as those obtained by some of the most celebrated Wagnerian conductors.

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