OP3413. SALOME, Live Performance, 12 March, 1949, w.Reiner Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ljuba Welitsch, Kerstin Thorborg, Herbert Janssen, Frederick Jagel, etc. (Germany) 2-Gebhardt 0013. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 40335122000139
"Ljuba Welitsch's performance in the title role of SALOME on 4 Feb, 1949, was regarded as one of the most memorable in Metropolitan Opera history. The packed house had turned out mainly to hear Fritz Reiner make his Met debut as a conductor, but by the time the performance ended, with at least 15 minutes of cheering and whistling from an ecstatic audience, Miss Welitsch had become an international star. A few days later, Miss Welitsch dazzled the critics again, displaying her versatility in the title role of Verdi's AIDA and prompting Howard Taubman of The Times to call her 'one of the few perfect singers to come to the Met in recent years'. But Miss Welitsch's extensive repertory and her determination to make up for the years on the international stage that she had lost during World War II shortened her operatic career. She drove her voice mercilessly, and by the mid-1950s, critics seemed to agree that her best singing was behind her.
At the Met, she appeared in 63 performances between her debut and her final appearance, in the nonsinging role of the Duchesss of Krakenthorp in Donizetti's FILLE DU REGIMENT on 17 Feb., 1972. Besides Salome and Aida, her Metropolitan Opera roles included Donna Anna in DON GIOVANNI, the title role in TOSCA, Rosalinde in Johann Strauss' DIE FLEDERMAUS and Musetta in LA BOHEME.
But most of Miss Welitsch's career was spent in Europe, where she was coached by the composer when she made her Vienna Opera debut in a special performance of SALOME that celebrated Richard Strauss' 80th birthday in 1944. Even when her career in grand opera faded, Miss Welitsch's love of performance kept her busy into the early 1980s in operetta, films, radio, television and on the stage.
Welitsch began her professional career in 1936 with the Graz Opera Company which played a 10-month season that enabled Miss Welitsch to build her repertory. From 1941 to 1943 she sang in Hamburg and from 1943 to 1946 in Munich. In 1943 she also joined the Vienna Opera, where she made her noteworthy Vienna debut in SALOME the next year. When she made her English debut with the company in 1947, she dazzled audiences at Covent Garden, and by 1948 she had sung SALOME more than 50 times and appeared in more than 40 other roles. That summer, while abroad, Edward Johnson, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, heard Miss Welitsch and engaged her to sing in New York the following year."
- Lawrence van Gelder, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 Sept., 1996
"If there was ever justification for a candle to burn bright, it was Welitsch's Salome as heard on the broadcast of 12 March, 1949 - the afternoon belongs to Welitsch. The voice is an ideal Salome voice, suggesting the child seductress with delicate, shimmering tones which never fail to penetrate the orchestral mass, or spewing forth in strong bands of steel in the highest tessitura and middle voice; often she wraps its cutting edge in a sheath of honeyed, almost Rethberg-like tone. Welitsch is mistress of Strauss' sinuous line. She whips her voice in and out around the torturous melodies with seemingly complete spontaneity; the utter freedom of her vocal manner is mesmerizing."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.445-46