LP0400. TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 8 February 1941, w. Leinsdorf Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Kerstin Thorborg, Alexander Kipnis, Julius Huehn, etc. (containing two patches in Act II from the 23 March 1940 broadcast to replace damaged material in the source). 4-Metropolitan Opera Historic Broadcast Recordings MET 3. Producer: Dario Soria; Audio Engineer: John Pfeiffer, RCA Records. The packaging is in the style of the deluxe RCA Victor Soria Series releases - velvet-covered slipcase edition with an inner box that holds, in addition to the records, an elaborate beautifully-illustrated booklet with background on the opera's Met history by Irving Kolodin & Erich Leinsdorf, photos and biographies of the artists, plus a second booklet containing a libretto with translation. Produced by RCA in 1976. Factory-Sealed.
"The packaging is in the style of the deluxe RCA Victor Soria Series releases - velvet-covered slipcase edition with an inner box that holds, in addition to the records, an elaborate sixteen-page beautifully-illustrated booklet with background on the opera's Met history by Francis Robinson, photos and biographies of the artists, plus a second booklet containing a libretto with translation. Beginning with MET 3, the 8 February 1941 broadcast of Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, the booklets were expanded to include recollections by the principal artists, more detailed historical background and biographies, and printed on heavier stock with a deluxe binding. For this second release and seven subsequent releases, Dario Soria served as producer. The packaging was in the style of the deluxe RCA Victor Soria Series releases - velvet-covered slipcase editions with an inner box that held, in addition to the records, an illustrated booklet with background on the opera's Met history, photos and biographies of the artists, plus a second booklet containing a libretto with translation. This third release was given the catalog number MET 3, a numbering format that would be retained for the remainder of the series. Produced by RCA in 1976. Factory-Sealed.
- Gary A.Galo, ARSC Journal, Volume 40, #2, Fall, 2009
"The one consistent element of Met Tristan performances beginning in 1929 and going through 1950 was the great Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior. John Steane, in his essential book THE GRAND TRADITION, begins his discussion of Melchior this way: As the years go by, and records continue to show him the greatest singer of the century in his own field. With Melchior it is not only the steady emission of a beautiful tone, although that is fundamental to his success, but it is also his often-under-appreciated dramatic sense. Melchior had the ability to thunder, to soar, or to tenderly envelop you with the sweetest and tenderest of sounds. He was a far subtler actor with his voice than he was often given credit for, a point that Steane makes firmly. We hear it throughout this performance. Melchior conveys Tristan's heartache and guilt in his scene with King Marke (where he empties his tone of color), Tristans ecstatic potion-induced passion in the first act, and the physical exhaustion and mental anguish of Tristan's delirium scene in the last act.
The strengths of this performance do not end with the two protagonists. Kerstin Thorborg sang the role of Brangäne 52 times at the Met, partnering both Flagstad and Traubel, and she was worthy of singing alongside both. Thorborg is vocally magnificent in the long lines of Brangäne's Watch in Act II and very specific with her vocal coloring in the music of the first act and beginning of the second. Her warm caring for Isolde is conveyed in the tone in which she she addresses her mistress, particularly after Isolde's long narration and curse. Julius Huehn makes Kurwenal much more than the cardboard character he often seems. First of all, he sings beautifully, particularly in the last act as Kurwenal tries to comfort Tristan (and, quite possibly, himself). In the first act, Huehn is appropriately brusque, particularly in his exchanges with Brangäne. His is an imaginative and convincing portrayal of a character we often overlook.
Then there is Alexander Kipnis as King Marke. This is as splendid a piece of singing as one is ever likely to encounter. The king's long monologue is, surprisingly, uncut - a decision one imagines Leinsdorf made because of the quality of Kipnis' singing. The rich, deep bass voice produced on a foundation of almost BEL CANTO legato is a unique pleasure to the ear. Kipnis conveys both Marke's anger and the sadness at Tristan's betrayal without overdoing either. His reappearance in the final act is thrillingly sonorous, and again very well conceived in terms of the drama."
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, March /April, 2018