[Met Performance] CID:149180
Tristan und Isolde {332} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/17/1948.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 17, 1948


TRISTAN UND ISOLDE {332}

Tristan.................Lauritz Melchior
Isolde..................Helen Traubel
Kurwenal................Herbert Janssen
Brangäne................Blanche Thebom
King Marke..............Dezsö Ernster
Melot...................Emery Darcy
Sailor's Voice..........John Garris
Shepherd................Leslie Chabay
Steersman...............Philip Kinsman

Conductor...............Fritz Busch




Review of Robert Sabin in Musical America



The season's second performance of Wagner's love tragedy was profoundly eloquent. Both the cast and the conductor were the same as at the first. Fritz Busch's conducting of Tristan is one of his finest achievements, especially in the third act. Throughout its myriad changes of mood, he never lets the music lag or lose its dramatic continuity; and his treatment of the passages in which the love music of the second act is heard in retrospect reveals the most sensitive psychological understanding of Wagner's intentions. Even the tempestuous chromatic chords which mirror Tristan's delirium are woven into the overall fabric, without damage to their rhythmic freedom.

Helen Traubel's Isolde has grown in dramatic scope, and she sang the Liebestod more nobly at this performance than I have ever heard her do it. In the first act, her quick gestures with her hands and arms suggested petulance rather than rage, though her singing was more heroic; and she could give greater impact to her characterization by working out more telling movements. Her voice was exquisitely liquid and rich in quality in the second-act love duet. But it was the Liebestod which revealed must fully Miss Traubel's insight into the character. The final phrase on "höchste Lust" was not merely beautiful in sound; it was transfigured by emotion. Although Lauritz Melchior was not in his best vocal condition, he was overwhelming in the last act, in which he is without a rival. Herbert Janssen's Kurvenal, Dezso Ernster's King Marke and Blanche Thebom's Brangaene had their familiar persuasiveness. The others in the cast were Emery Darcy, Leslie Chabay, Philip Kinsman and John Garris. In its Wagner performances, the Metropolitan retains a remnant of its former glories. When shall we again hear Italian opera of quality comparable to this?



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