OP2642. TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - Act III (composite re-creation from several performances), w.Leinsdorf & Kinsky Cond. Lauritz Melchior, Göta Ljungberg, Genia Gusalewicz, Herbert Janssen, Ivar Andrésen, etc.; Die Meistersinger - Gut'n Abend, Meister, w.Göta Ljungberg & Friedrich Schorr, recorded 1931. (Canada) Immortal Performances 1019. Restoration, re-creation & transfers by Richard Caniell. - 713757465106
"Given the wealth of operatic material available since the advent of electrical recording, many a collector must have dreamed of ideal casts that somehow never made it onto tape or disk. The original notification of [the above] issue ï¿½ an apparently unknown recording of the two fabled singers in the last act of Wagner's great work - came like a thunderbolt. Although they often sang it together in the opera house, there are no known recordings. Richard Caniell has decided to make his dreams come true and set out to remedy the situation by splicing recordings from various dates and studios. Against all odds, this proved an enjoyable listening experience, essentially emerging as a homogenous performance. Ljungberg's instantly recognisable, truly lovely timbre presents a human, almost fragile Isolde, in the care of almost certainly the finest heldentenor of the last century, Tristan's ravings seem not one note too long. He is worthily supported by Herbert Janssen's splendid Kurvenal. Andrésen, one of the great basses of his era, also graces a role he must have sung innumerable times at all the major opera houses. If Immortal Performances could now conjure up the first two acts! The 'conversation piece' filler illustrates to perfection the artistry and glorious voice of Schorr - unquestionably the supreme Wagnerian bass-baritone of his time. Together with Ljungberg they supply a demonstration of Wagner singing at its peak. This Sachs-Eva conversational interchange, even ignoring the beauty of the voices, illustrates a degree of inflexion, nuance, and verbal pointing apparently lost to contemporary exponents of these roles.
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2012
"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 role 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
"Herbert Janssen - with his plangent, fine-grained voice, keen intelligence, aristocratic musicianship, and (not incidentally) handsome appearance - was the leading German baritone in several major theatres during the 1920s and 1930s. After study with Oskar Daniel in Berlin he was immediately accepted by Max von Schillings for the Berlin State Opera, where he made his debut in 1922 as Herod in Schreker's DER SCHATZGRABER . He remained at the Berlin State Opera until 1937 singing both lyric and dramatic roles, many of them in the Italian repertory. He later appeared in important productions of DER FLIEGENDE HOLLANDER and TRISTAN UND ISOLDE at Covent Garden conducted by Reiner and Beecham, also singing Orest / ELEKTRA and in 1935 taking the title role in Borodin's PRINCE IGOR, for which he was highly praised.
Janssen was a fixture at the Bayreuth Festival from 1930 to 1937. His Wolfram in TANNHAUSER set a standard not approached since, and, fortunately, it was recorded in a somewhat truncated 1930 production. During that decade, he established benchmarks for several Wagner roles, particularly Kurwenal, Telramund, Gunther, and - especially - Amfortas. His interpretation of the latter was an exquisitely sung realization of a soul in torment, achieving a remarkable unity of voice, movement, and makeup. His doggedly loyal Kurwenal is preserved on complete recordings of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE made live at Covent Garden in 1936 and 1937. His tortured Dutchman is also available in a live recording made at Covent Garden and featuring Kirsten Flagstad as Senta.
In addition to his stage work, Janssen acquired a reputation as a superior singer of Lieder. The exceptional beauty of his voice and his interpretive acuity made him a prime candidate for Walter Legge's Hugo Wolf Society venture of the 1930s. Among the finest singers Legge could pull together, Janssen was given the largest assignment and his subscription recordings made throughout the decade remain supreme, even in the face of the best achievements of post-war Lieder singers.
Janssen was very unpopular with the Nazi regime, having turned down a dinner invitation from Hitler at Bayreuth, Janssen left Germany in 1937 and with Toscanini's assistance traveled immediately to Buenos Aires. After a season in Argentina, he came to the United States where he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1939, remaining at that theater until his stage retirement in 1952.
From 1940 onwards Janssen sang regularly at Buenos Aires and with the San Francisco Opera between 1945 and 1951. Following his retirement in 1952, he remained in New York as a respected teacher.
Janssen's performances were notable for the warm and sympathetic timbre of his voice, his excellent command of legato and clear enunciation, as well as his convincing acting. Also a highly accomplished lieder singer, he had in addition starred in the musical DREI MUSKETIERE at the Metropol Theatre in Berlin during 1928 opposite Gota Ljungberg."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com