OP0465. TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 1936, w.Reiner Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Kirsten Flagstad, Sabine Kalter, Lauritz Melchior, Herbert Janssen, Emanuel List, etc. (Canada) 3-Naxos 8.110068/70. Transfers by Ward Marston. Final sealed copy! - 636943106822
"Recorded live at Covent Garden in 1936, this is quite simply the greatest performance of Wagner's masterpiece to survive in sound. It captures the definitive coupling of Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior as the doomed lovers, both singing with a sensuous ease, a purity of line and a supreme voluptuousness of tone that eradicates all competition....The visceral sexuality and the sense of neurotic decadence that Fritz Reiner gets from every bar is overwhelming, while the LPO (which doubled as the opera house's orchestra in the 1930s) play with an electric excitement that no studio recording could ever quite capture. You emerge from the whole feeling elated and emotionally battered beyond belief.”
Tim Ashley, THE GUARDIAN, Dec., 2000
"Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior are archetypal Wagner performers, displaying not only the requisite heft to soar over a large orchestra but also abundant passion, understanding, and physical stamina, and this famous performance, recorded live at Covent Garden in 1936, is a thrilling monument to their artistry. The current dearth of Wagnerian singers has turned TRISTAN into a conductor's opera, but despite the exciting and exacting leadership of Fritz Reiner, Flagstad and Melchior hold center stage here. One is swept away as much by the beauty of their sound as by their ecstatic expressions of desire. Rarely has the second-act love duet been so intoxicating. It is a priceless document from a particularly resplendent era of Wagner interpretation."
Andrew Farach-Colton, Jan., 2009
"...I still prefer Fritz Reiner's performance, recorded live at Covent Garden in 1936. Flagstad is the Isolde, her voice twining round Lauritz Melchior's gorgeous Tristan. Reiner's conducting exudes decadent splendour, and the playing from the LPO is awesome. Reiner offers an overwhelming experience that is second to none."
Tim Ashley, THE GUARDIAN, April 2001
“Sabine Kalter had a powerful and wide ranging contralto voice, combined with a strong dramatic ability. I find her especially fine in Aïda and TROVATORE, in which she sings with a superb Richard Tauber who has an ideal voice for Radames and Trovatore.
Other highlights of Kalter’s discography are the Wesendonck-Lieder. Her ‘Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer’ is one of the most beautiful and intimate recordings I have heard. The sound file shows not only her dramatic power but also her capability of singing with inner emotion.
Sabine Kalter was born in Jaroslaw, Galicia, and studied singing at the Vienna Musical Academy. She was engaged by Rainer Simons, director at the Volksoper, who had an unerring instinct in his search for new talents. Sabine Kalter made her début there in 1911. Two years later, she was already contracted to the Stadttheater Hamburg (State Opera) as principal contralto, where she had to replace the famous Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann , and was expected to continue the great tradition in the contralto- and mezzo ‘fach’. In 1919 she married Max Aufrichtig. Her roles included not only Waltraute, Ortrud, Fricka, Herodias and Brangäne, but also Amneris, Lady Macbeth, Dalila, Orfeo, Marina, Fidès and Carmen. She took part in a number of first performances: Korngold’s DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE (1927), Humperdinck’s Königskinder (1911), Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (1928), Hindemith’s NEUES VOM TAGE (1929), Wolf-Ferrari’s I Gioelli di Madonna and d’Albert’s Liebesketten. Within a short time Sabine Kalter became one of the most popular singers at the Hamburg State Opera and stayed there from 1915 to 1935. Her international breakthrough began in the early 1920s. The artist was an accomplished recitalist and concert singer, appearing in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Austria. After a highly successful career at Hamburg, when the Nazis came to power, she was obliged to leave Germany in 1935, but she managed to continue her career at Covent Garden for another four years. She sang Brangäne opposite Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Herbert Janssen and Emmanuel List under Fritz Reiner [above]. Other performances included Fricka, Ortrud, Háta in Smetana’s Prodaná Nevesta and Herodias. In 1939, the artist decided to retire from the opera stage, concentrating on concert and recital work and becoming a singing coach. Her last concert appearance took place at Hamburg in 1950. Sabine Kalter died on 1 September, 1957, in London.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“Lauritz Melchior trained with retired Danish tenor Vilhelm Herold. In 1918, now singing as a tenor, Melchior gave his first performance as Tannhäuser. 1924 saw his first performances at Bayreuth (Siegmund, Parsifal), and at Covent Garden (Siegmund), two of the most important theaters of his career. Another crucial debut came in 1926: the Metropolitan Opera, portraying Tannhäuser. The remainder of the 1920s passed by in a whirlwind of newness.
Although in the 1920s Melchior was planning to make Germany the center of his career, the unforeseen Nazification and Great Depression of the early 1930s in fact moved him away from that country's theaters, including ‘Hitler's Bayreuth’. After 1933, the majority of his opera season was spent at the Metropolitan. It was a Dionysiac time for Wagner performance. His only new operatic rôle in the 1930s was Florestan.
Melchior left the Met and the opera after a much publicized kafuffle with incoming General Manager Rudolf Bing, giving his last performance (Lohengrin) in February of 1950."
-Zillah D. Akron