The Flagstad Manuscript, An Autobiography (Biancolli)  (Putnam's)
Item# B1165
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The Flagstad Manuscript, An Autobiography (Biancolli)  (Putnam's)
B1165 (FLAGSTAD) LOUIS BIANCOLLI. The Flagstad Manuscript, An Autobiography. New York, Putnam's, 1952. 293pp. Index; List of Flagstad's Operatic Roles; Photos; DJ. Long out-of-print, Final Hardbound Copy!


“After singing Isolde in June and July 1932, Flagstad rested her voice for a few weeks. This was an important transitional moment for Flagstad: ‘During that period my voice seemed to grow just by resting. When I sang Isolde again, I discovered that it had not only grown but that it responded to my wishes with much more ease. Moreover, it had deepened to a darker color. This had probably come from all that heavy work, studying TRISTAN UND ISOLDE in six weeks, and so forth. There was another result which had me worried for a while. In studying and singing Isolde, my back had developed so tremendously from all the heavy breathing that my dresses actually burst apart. They had become too tight for me in the shoulders. Mind you, I had not put on additional weight. My lungs had expanded so. I could hear the difference, as well as feel it in my back muscles.’

Ellen Gulbransen, a Swedish dramatic soprano, heard Flagstad’s Isolde in Göteborg and arranged for her to audition at Bayreuth for Winifred Wagner. In her first season at Bayreuth, 1933, Flagstad’s assignments were the Third Norn (GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG) and Ortlinde (DIE WALKÜRE), as well as to understudy Eva (DIE MEISTERSINGER) and Sieglinde (DIE WALKÜRE). Those were followed in 1934 with Gutrune (GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG) and Sieglinde.

A cable arrived from the Metropolitan Opera asking Flagstad if she would be able to sing roles like Isolde and Brünnhilde in their forthcoming season. She was to travel to St. Moritz, Switzerland, to audition for then-Met general manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza and conductor Artur Bodanzky. She was asked to bring with her the three Brünnhildes, Isolde, and Leonore (FIDELIO) with only six days to prepare. She had previously started only the SIEGFRIED Brünnhilde and had sung FIDELIO only in Norwegian. Flagstad was ultimately offered a contract at the Metropolitan Opera, but she was unable to accept any performances until her contracts at Göteborg had been satisfied.

After Flagstad arrived in New York, it was decided that she would make her Met debut as Sieglinde in a Saturday afternoon broadcast of DIE WALKÜRE on February 2. Flagstad was 39 years old. The host of the broadcast intermissions was retired Met star Geraldine Farrar, who told the radio audience: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, today we are witnessing one of the greatest events that can happen during an opera performance. A singer completely unknown to us has transported the audience to ecstasy with her marvelous voice and artistic personality. A new star is born!’.”

- Howard Vogt, FLAGSTAD: SINGER OF THE CENTURY, pp.111-12