Salome  (Reiner;  Welitsch, Hongen, Svanholm, Hotter, Sullivan)  (2-Walhall 0201)
Item# OP1455
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Product Description

Salome  (Reiner;  Welitsch, Hongen, Svanholm, Hotter, Sullivan)  (2-Walhall 0201)
OP1455. SALOME, Live Performance, 19 Jan., 1952, w.Reiner Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ljuba Welitsch, Elisabeth Höngen, Hans Hotter, Set Svanholm, Brian Sullivan, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0201. - 4035122652017

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“Fritz Reiner was a legend among conductors. Universally admired for his music-making, widely disliked for his aggressive and exacting temperament, and survived by a legacy of definitive recorded performances, he was largely responsible for the artistic ascendancy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and exerted considerable influence on generations of musicians.

Born in Budapest in 1888, he studied piano with his mother and, at the age of 15, entered the Franz Liszt Academy -- an institution that also boasts Bela Bartók, Zoltan Kodály, Ernst von Dohnányi, George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Georg Solti and Antal Dorati as graduates. Reiner gained conducting experience at a number of regional opera houses before eventually returning to Budapest in 1911 to serve at the city's Volksoper, where his reputation as a conductor of special abilities finally emerged. In 1914 Reiner accepted a position at the Dresden Court Opera, where he formed a fortuitous relationship with both the conductor Arthur Nikisch and the composer Richard Strauss; Reiner would eventually give the German premier of Strauss' DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN, and would remain a devoted interpreter of the composer's works throughout his career. The economic chaos and emergent anti-Semitism that followed the First World War made Reiner anxious to leave Europe, and an invitation (in 1921) to become the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra provided just the right opportunity. From that point onward, Reiner's career was firmly rooted in the United States, where he became a citizen in 1928.

After resigning his post at Cincinnati Reiner became a professor of conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his students included both the young Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss; Bernstein, in particular, credited Reiner with a great deal of influence in his development. In 1938 he became the director of the Pittsburgh Symphony -- one of several positions that established Reiner as a fine builder of orchestras, with a talent for steering ensembles toward new levels of quality and success. A number of Reiner's well-known recordings stem from his tenure there. Guest appearances during his Pittsburgh years include those at Covent Garden and the San Francisco Symphony. From Pittsburgh he moved to the Metropolitan opera, where he remained on the conductor roster until 1953; his advocacy of Strauss' operas was especially strong there, and his performances of SALOME and ELEKTRA number among the most memorable evenings in the Met's history.

1953 was a watershed year for Reiner, since it was then that he assumed the directorship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This was to become his signature partnership, and the position that would establish his lasting legacy. His relationship with the orchestra was never a smooth one -- he was known for hostility and impatience in rehearsal, and for firing musicians for mistakes in concerts -- but he undeniably raised the ensemble from its status as a good American orchestra to that of one of the finest in the world. Unlike a number of other prominent conductors who excelled in narrow corners of the musical canon, Reiner maintained his excellent standards and clarifying precision throughout an especially broad repertory that crossed boundaries of nationality and style. He was as renowned for his performances of new works, such as Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra -- a piece that Reiner himself commissioned from the dying composer -- and Alan Hovhaness' MYSTERIOUS MOUNTAIN as he was for his Mahler, Strauss and Haydn. His tenure in Chicago also resulted in what was then an unprecedented volume of fine recordings, some of which still remain as favorites, despite the [purported] improved fidelity of modern competitors. Reiner resigned from Chicago in 1962 (after only nine seasons), and died the following year of heart failure.”

- Allen Schrott, allmusic.com



“Ljuba Welitsch's performance in the title role of SALOME on 4 Feb, 1949, was regarded as one of the most memorable in Metropolitan Opera history. The packed house had turned out mainly to hear Fritz Reiner make his Met début as a conductor, but by the time the performance ended, with at least 15 minutes of cheering and whistling from an ecstatic audience, Miss Welitsch had become an international star. A few days later, Miss Welitsch dazzled the critics again, displaying her versatility in the title role of Verdi's AĎDA and prompting Howard Taubman of The Times to call her ‘one of the few perfect singers to come to the Met in recent years’.' But Miss Welitsch's extensive repertory and her determination to make up for the years on the international stage that she had lost during World War II shortened her operatic career. She drove her voice mercilessly, and by the mid-1950's, critics seemed to agree that her best singing was behind her.

At the Met, she appeared in 63 performances between her début and her final appearance, in the nonsinging role of the Duchesss of Krakenthorp in Donizetti's FILLE DU REGIMENT on 17 Feb., 1972. Besides Salome and Aďda, her Metropolitan Opera roles included Donna Anna in DON GIOVANNI, the title role in TOSCA, Rosalinde in Johann Strauss' DIE FLEDERMAUS and Musetta in LA BOHEME.

But most of Miss Welitsch's career was spent in Europe, where she was coached by the composer when she made her Vienna Opera debut in a special performance of SALOME that celebrated Richard Strauss' 80th birthday in 1944. Even when her career in grand opera faded, Miss Welitsch's love of performance kept her busy into the early 1980's in operetta, films, radio, television and on the stage.

Welitsch began her professional career in 1936 with the Graz Opera Company which played a 10-month season that enabled Miss Welitsch to build her repertory. From 1941 to 1943 she sang in Hamburg and from 1943 to 1946 in Munich. In 1943 she also joined the Vienna Opera, where she made her noteworthy Vienna début in SALOME the next year. When she made her English début with the company in 1947, she dazzled audiences at Covent Garden, and by 1948 she had sung SALOME more than 50 times and appeared in more than 40 other roles. That summer, while abroad, Edward Johnson, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, heard Miss Welitsch and engaged her to sing in New York the following year.”

- Lawrence van Gelder, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 Sept., 1996



"Hans Hotter's Jokanaan is the dominant portrayal of the afternoon. The intensity of his utterance and the emotive charge of his timbre immediately suggest the prophet's zeal and potency....Welitsch's portrait of the princess of Judea continues to fascinate and, in its peculiar way, to enchant. Her Salome remains remarkable both for vocal flexibility and dramatic force. She owns the ideal Salome voice, its silvery stream girlish when need be, but incredibly suggestive when it counts....Reiner's reading of the behemoth knows no blemish."

- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, pp.66-67



“Brian Sullivan was born on 9 August, 1912 in Oakland, California. He was an actor, known for Cavalcade of Stars (1949), The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) and Musical Comedy Time (1950).

A versatile, boyishly good-looking (in his younger days) tenor, he came from Broadway to spend fourteen seasons with the Metropolitan Opera, beginning with the title role in Benjamin Britten's PETER GRIMES in 1948. Other frequent roles with the company included Alfred in Johann Strauss II's DIE FLEDERMAUS, Tamino in Mozart's ZAUBERFLÖTE, Grigori in Mussorgsky's BORIS GODUNOV, and the title role in Wagner's LOHENGRIN. From what I can glean from the Internet and The Met Archives, Brian Sullivan sang in 162 performances at The Met, including his first performance as Peter Grimes 23 Feb., 1948, and ending with Alceste in 1961. He enjoyed an active career in the United States and Europe.

Brian Sullivan believed he had been engaged to sing in Wagner’s GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG in Switzerland. Apparently, he believed that he was contracted to star in the production but, in actuality, was just the understudy to the star, Claude Heater. When he failed to find an opportunity to sing in the production, Sullivan drowned himself on 17 June, 1969, as did Peter Grimes, a case of Life Imitating Art.”

- Lloyd L. Thoms Jr., Greenville, Wilmington, Delaware