OP2773. RIENZI, Live Performance 3 Nov., 1957, Stuttgart, w.von Matacic Cond. Stuttgart Ensemble; Wolfgang Windgassen, Paula Brivkalene, Josef Traxel, Gustav Neidlinger, etc. (Slovenia) 2-Living Stage 1018. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 3830025710182
“The most important singer of the German Heldentenor repertory in the 1950s and 1960s, Wolfgang Windgassen employed his not-quite-heroic instrument, believable physique, and considerable musical intelligence to forge memorable performances on-stage and in the recording studio.
The tenor made his début as Alvaro in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO at Pforzheim in 1941. In 1945, he joined the Württembergisches Staatstheater in Stuttgart, steadily moving from lyric rôles to more heroic parts; he remained a singer there until 1972. Upon making his début in the first postwar season at Bayreuth in 1951, he came to international attention. His Parsifal, growing from uncomprehending innocence to maturity and service, was a moving portrayal and was recorded live by Decca Records. Windgassen became indispensable at the Bayreuth Festival, excelling as Lohengrin, the two Siegfrieds, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. There, he earned the respect and devotion of the three leading dramatic sopranos of the age: Martha Mödl, Astrid Varnay, and Birgit Nilsson. Elsewhere, Windgassen made positive impressions at La Scala (where he débuted as Florestan in 1952), Paris (Parsifal in 1954), and Covent Garden, where he appeared as Tristan in 1954. Although regarded by English critics as somewhat light of voice for Wagner's heaviest tenor rôles, his lyric expression and dramatic aptness were wholly admired. The Metropolitan Opera briefly heard him as Siegmund beginning in January 1957 and as Siegfried. Windgassen did not return to America until 1970, when he sang Tristan to the Isolde of Nilsson at San Francisco. Beginning that same year, he turned to stage direction. Among Windgassen's finest recordings are his Bayreuth PARSIFAL, captured with a superb cast under Knappertsbusch's direction, his 1954 Bayreuth LOHENGRIN under Jochum, his SIEGFRIEDs under both Böhm at Bayreuth and in the studio with Solti, and his Bayreuth TRISTAN with Böhm conducting and Nilsson as his Isolde.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Lovro von Matacic was one of the great conductors who preserved the authentic late-Romantic tradition into the late-Romantic age. He worked at the Salzburg Festival on the music staff, and then returned to Yugoslavia which, at the end of World War I, had finally obtained its independence from Austria. He became the Music Director of the opera house in Osijek, continuing his career advancement through opera houses in the larger cities, Novi Sad, Ljubljana, Zagreb, and in 1938 the capital, Belgrade. In the same year he also became the conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra. After the German invasion of 1941 he resigned his position at the Belgrade Opera (1942) and from 1942 to 1945 he was conductor of the Vienna Volksoper.
After the war, he became the General Music Director in Skopje. He organized the annual Dubrovnik and Split Festivals. He was permanent guest conductor at the opera houses of Munich and Vienna. From 1956 to 1958, he was General Music Director of the Dresden State Opera and Staatskapelle Orchestra and, with Franz Konwitschny, co-General Music Director of the (East) Berlin State Opera. He appeared in America with the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1959. In 1961, Matacic succeeded Georg Solti as General Music Director of the Frankfurt Opera and orchestra, remaining there through 1966. In 1965 he was appointed Honorary Chief Conductor of the NHK (Japanese Radio and Television) Orchestra in 1965. He was Music Director of the Zagreb Philharmonic from 1970 to 1980, and of the Monte Carlo Opera from 1974 to 1979. At the end of these tenures, he became honorary conductor for life of both organizations.
He guest conducted extensively and at various times was principal guest conductor or permanent guest conductor at various times of the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, and Prague Philharmonic. He began conducting orchestras in America frequently, and led opera performances at La Scala, the Bayreuth Festival, Opera di Roma, and various other European and Japanese venues.
He recorded frequently, and many ‘dall vivo’ recordings of his live and broadcast performances exist. He was especially praised for his control over the immense formal structures of Bruckner's symphonies and his masterly control of phrasing.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com