DVD0419. MAX LORENZ: Max Lorenz, Wagner’s Mastersinger – Hitler’s Siegfried. (E.U.) Medici Arts 2056928, A Film by Eric Schulz & Claus Wischmann, w.Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Klaus Geitel, Walter Herrmann, Waldemar Kmentt, René Kollo, Lieselott Tietjen, Hilde Zadek & Michael Wessolowski, 1 DVD & 1 CD, the latter featuring SIEGFRIED – Act I (Complete) & Act II (Excerpts), Live Performance, 1938, Buenos Aires. - 880242569288
"Max Lorenz was the leading Wagner tenor of his day. As Siegfried, he was the principal protagonist on the stage of the Bayreuth Festival throughout the years of Hitler's association with the Festival. But his marriage to a Jewish singer and his homosexuality were a thorn in the flesh to many Nazis, and it was only his exceptional qualities as a singer that ensured that whenever the going got tough he was protected by the powers that be: when he was indicted for homosexual actions, Hitler ordered the case to be dropped, while Hermann Göring came to the support of Lorenz and his wife when members of the SS turned up at their house with a warrant for their deportation. The story of Max Lorenz is closely bound up with that of Bayreuth's Villa Wahnfried from the time of the Weimar Republic to the early years of the Federal Republic. No attempt to retrace the singer's steps can avoid taking in the wider picture and seeing this fascinating artist against the background of his age.The present television documentary examines the heroic ideal and the way in which Wagner's characters were portrayed onstage during this period, while also seeking answers to questions about Max Lorenz's career under the Third Reich and exploring the complications to which he was exposed. Central to our portrait is Max Lorenz as a singer. Our film depicts him in archival recordings from four decades. Comments are provided by numerous colleagues and contemporaries, including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who admired Lorenz from an early date before finally appearing onstage with his idol; René Kollo, who regards his predecessor as 'arguably the most important Wagner tenor of all'; the soprano Hilde Zadek; and the tenor Waldemar Kmentt. All of them knew Lorenz as a colleague over a period of many years. Another eyewitness is the dancer Lieselott Tietjen, the widow of the most powerful theatrical figure under the National Socialists, Heinz Tietjen. These and other interviewees are present whenever Max Lorenz sings: in the film, they are seen listening to him singing, allowing the camera to register their individual reactions and comments. In this way the art of Max Lorenz - in itself testimony to a bygone age in operatic history - becomes a fascinating part of the present day.
This gripping, well - researched documentary boasts original footage of Max Lorenz, Haus Wahnfried and Hitler's visits to Bayreuth (e.g. the first coloured picture of Hitler)."
- Ned Ludd
“Dramatic tenor Max Lorenz usually made the most of a hard-edged and often intractable voice in singing the heroic roles of Wagner and the high-lying lyric/dramatic ones of Strauss. A riveting stage figure (trim and athletic in appearance), he was, in his prime, perhaps the most credible visual exponent of Siegmund and the two Siegfrieds. His musicianship, likewise, was more reliable than that of most other singers of the big German roles. Yet his voice was so unmalleable and his technique so unorthodox, that his performances required of the listener a considerable period of adjustment. Once the accommodation was made to a vocal mechanism that sounded as though its soft palate had been constructed of concrete, significant rewards awaited.
Following study in Berlin, Lorenz was awarded a prize in a competition sponsored by a city newspaper. He was subsequently engaged by Fritz Busch for Dresden and made his début there in 1927, singing the secondary role of Walter in TANNHÄUSER. His performance as Menelaus in Strauss' ÄGYPTISCHE HELENA, premiered in Dresden in 1928, prompted the composer to recommend Lorenz to Berlin where they were seeking a tenor for the same role. Lorenz left Dresden, joining the Berlin Staatsoper in 1933.
Meanwhile, he had made his début at the Metropolitan Opera in 1931. His Walter in DIE MEISTERSINGER was received as the work of a ‘serious artist and an intelligent musician’, though one afflicted with a ‘hard and unyielding tone quality’ that changed little during the ensuing two decades of Metropolitan appearances. Perhaps the continued presence of Lauritz Melchior made it impossible for New York audiences to adjust to the much less beautiful sound produced by Lorenz.
London heard Lorenz for the first time on-stage in 1934 when his Walter made a good impression. He returned to Covent Garden in 1937 for the title role in SIEGFRIED and was found too lightweight for the arduous role, but an ‘eminently cultivated and musicianly singer’ nonetheless. Bayreuth proved a more hospitable venue for Lorenz's unique art. For a decade beginning in 1933, the tenor sang Siegfried and Tristan to considerable acclaim and gained a reputation as a singing actor of exceptional ability. Recordings from the theater preserve his Siegfried, sung with rare intensity and rhythmic spring. From 1937, he was a regular at the Vienna Staatsoper, as well as a frequent visitor to other European houses. In the post-WWII era, he sang in Italy, performing both Wagner and Verdi, and appeared in both Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Salzburg heard him frequently, as did other festivals such as those at Amsterdam, Florence, and Zürich. In addition to his dramatic leading roles, Lorenz took on contemporary parts in the premières of Gottfried Von Einem's DER PROZESS in 1953, Rolf Liebermann's PENELOPE in 1954, and as late as 1961, of Rudolf Wagner-Régeny's DAS BERGWERK ZU FALUN.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com