[Met Performance] CID:137170
Tristan und Isolde {305} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/14/1944.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 14, 1944 Matinee


Tristan.................Lauritz Melchior
Isolde..................Marjorie Lawrence
Kurwenal................Julius Huehn
Brangäne................Kerstin Thorborg
King Marke..............Emanuel List
Melot...................Emery Darcy
Sailor's Voice..........John Garris
Shepherd................John Garris
Steersman...............John Gurney

Conductor...............Thomas Beecham

Review of Jerome D. Bohm in the Herald Tribune

Heard as the Wagner Heroine, for First Time in U. S., in Metropolitan's Sixth Performance of 'Tristan und Isolde' This Season

This sixth performance of the season of "Tristan and Isolde" served to introduce the Isolde of Miss Lawrence to American audiences; her only previous appearance in the role having been made last season in Montreal. It was in many ways a remarkable achievement on the part of the unfortunately paralyzed soprano, who enacted the entire role in a sitting position. The stage procedure had, of course, to be considerably altered for the purpose and was, at least in the first two acts, successfully adapted.

One scarcely noted Miss Lawrence's inability to move about, so strong was the lure of her personality and so apposite her gestures and facial play. Two traditional bits of stage business, the extinguishing of the torch and the waving of the scarf to the approaching Tristan in the second act, were changed so that Brangaene handed the torch to the sitting Isolde, who threw it behind her bench; and Tristan's entrance was made from a front wing instead of from the rear, as is customary, so that Isolde could presumably watch him as he drew near.

The last act was less expertly managed. Mr. Huehn carried Miss Lawrence in, but instead of placing her on Tristan's couch, which would, it seems, have been the most practicable thing to do, he deposited her on a highly placed bench downstage. This left Mr. Melchior so little room to die that he moved twice after he was supposedly dead in order to get into a comfortable position; and Miss Thorborg, too, was compelled to assume a pose impossible to hold during the death of Kurwenal, so that the entire final scene was divested of its customarily impressive effect.

From the vocal aspect, Miss Lawrence's finest work was vouchsafed in the first act. Here her identification with the character of the aggrieved, imperious Irish princess was complete. Her singing was profoundly stirring in its realization of the impassioned music, subtly colored to suggest its shifting moods from the brooding, through the ironic and tempestuous. It is many years since New York audiences have heard so veracious an account of this portion of the score.

The raging Isolde of the first act gave way to a meltingly tender and womanly impersonation in the second act, its attributes suggested by the coloring of the voice, plasticity of gesture and radiance of expression. Unfortunately, Miss Lawrence gave indications of vocal fatigue at the climax of the love-duet, but on the other hand, she is the first Isolde to deliver the music as Wagner wrote it, including both high C's, who has appeared here in some time.

The Liebestod, too, revealed that the soprano's vocal resources are not limitless. But, viewed as a whole, this was an uncommonly telling delineation of a role which makes the most arduous demands on the singer, and one must felicitate Miss Lawrence again on her unflagging courage and undiminished artistic zeal in the face of her great misfortune. She was tumultuously received by the capacity audiences and received many curtain calls.

The remainder of the presentation tarried on generally high levels, Mr. Melchior accomplishing, as always, his most poignant singing in the last act. Miss Thorborg, too, was well disposed. Mr. Huehn's Kurwenal was an uncommonly well acted, well sung characterization, and Mr. List, in better voice than of late, lent dignity to the role of King Marke. Sir Thomas Beecham's discourse of the orchestra was throughout of the utmost eloquence, often overwhelming in its incandescent intensity.

Photograph of Marjorie Lawrence as Isolde.

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