OP2002. LOHENGRIN (in Italian), Live Performance, 8 Sept., 1959, w.Leitner Cond. RAI Ensemble, Milano; Sandor Konya, Marcella Pobbe, Laura Didier, Aldo Protti, Paolo Dari, etc. (E.U.) 3-Myto 00224. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 0801439902244
"The noted Hungarian tenor Sandor Konya was surely the most successful Lohengrin of the 1950s and 60s, and I think a legitimate case can be made that he was the finest Lohengrin after Lauritz Melchior. Konya had a voice that combined power with a liquid tonal beauty, enabling him to sing with dramatic thrust and tenderness as the music required. He made a fine appearance in a studio recording of the opera in 1965 (RCA) with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony, following a series of Tanglewood performances (three performances of one act per concert).
I am familiar with three live performances with Konya that have been preserved, two of which have been reviewed in FANFARE (interestingly, the RCA recording never was). Earliest is a 1958 Bayreuth performance, led by André Cluytens, with Leonie Rysanek's thrilling Elsa. It was reviewed enthusiastically by John Yohalem (FANFARE 5:2) and William Youngren (8:1). Perhaps even more enthusiasm was displayed by Youngren (6:5) and me (31:1) about a 1959 Bayreuth performance led by Lovro von Matacic with the lovely Elsa of Elisabeth Grummer. The tenor is wonderful in all performances, but this one from the Met in 1964 catches Konya at perhaps the finest point of his career. He had had enough experience with the role (he first sang it in 1953) to really inhabit the character and to drop some of the excessive sobbing he inserted earlier. At the same time his voice was still in its healthy prime. Because Konya possessed the ideal kind of voice for Lohengrin, he clearly relishes the role. I know of very few performances of 'In fernem Land' or 'Mein lieber Schwan', even on recital discs, that I prefer....
There is not a clear 'best' recording (longtime FANFARE readers know of my allergy to naming 'bests'), but this one is certainly on a par with the two Bayreuth performances. Matacic, a much under-valued conductor, may lead the most powerful and incisive of the three performances, but Cluytens and Rosenstock are not routiniers.
Any Wagner collection would be incomplete without a representation of Konya's Lohengrin."
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
"Marcella Pobbe was an Italian operatic soprano who sang a wide range of roles in both the lyric and spinto repertory. Pobbe was born in Vicenza, where she studied with Elena Fava, and later entered the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro, where she studied with Rinalda Pavoni. She also studied at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena with Giorgio Favaretto. She made her stage debut in Spoleto, as Gounod's Marguerite, in 1949, and the same year, first appeared at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, where she was to appear regularly until 1973. She made her debut at the Rome Opera in 1954, in the title role of Gluck's IPHIGENIE EN TAURIDE, and at La Scala in 1955, as Bathseba in the premiere of Darius Milhaud's DAVID. She appeared at the Baths of Caracalla in 1957, as Mathilde in GUGLIELMO TELL, and in 1959 as Elsa in LOHENGRIN. She also sang at most major opera houses in Italy, Venice, Parma, Bologna, Florence, Mantua, Palermo, etc., as well as on Italian radio and television.
On the international scene, she made guest appearances at the Monte Carlo Opera, the Zurich Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House in London and the Liceo in Barcelona. In North America, she sang at the Philadelphia Opera and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, for a few performances of Marguerite and Mimi during the 1958-59 season.
Pobbe went on performing until the late 1970s, and then became a music critic for Vicenza Gazzettino. In 2000, she published a series of interviews she had made with conductors."
"Protti was born in Cremona. He studied in Parma, and made his debut in Pesaro, as Figaro, in 1948. He made his La Scala debut in 1950, as Amonasro, and sang there for many years. He sang widely in Italy and Europe in the standard Italian repertory, earning a reputation for being 'one of the most reliable baritones in the business'. He made a belated debut at the Metropolitan Opera, as Rigoletto, at age 65. He was particularly appreciated in Verdi roles, especially Rigoletto, his greatest role, but also as Alfio, Tonio, Gérard, Scarpia, etc."
- Zillah Akron Dorset
“Ferdinand Leitner was a German conductor who studied under Franz Schreker, Julius Prüwer, Artur Schnabel and Karl Muck. He also was a composition student with Robert Kahn. Starting as a pianist, through the help of Fritz Busch, he became a conductor in the 1930s. He was conductor of the Nollendorfplatz Theater in Berlin from 1943 to 1945; in Hannover from 1945 to 1946; in Munich from 1946 to 1947; and the General Music Director of the Württemberg State Opera house in Stuttgart from 1947 until 1969.
He is famous as a conductor of opera, his favourite composers being Wagner, Richard Strauss, Mozart, and twentieth-century composers Carl Orff and Karl Amadeus Hartmann. He succeeded Erich Kleiber in 1956 as conductor for the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. From 1976 to 1980, he worked in The Hague as principal conductor of Het Residentie Orkest.”