V0953. LAURITZ MELCHIOR (Narrator), w.Reiner Cond. NBC S.O. (not Chicago Orch.): Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev), Live Performance, 19 June, 1949; LAURITZ MELCHIOR: Wagner Arias, recorded 1929-30. (Italy) Myto 061.H109. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8014399501095
“While the main feature on this disc – Prokofiev’s PETER AND THE WOLF, Live Performance, from 1951 NBC Symphony (mis-labeled Chicago Symphony), with the great Wagnerian heldentenor Lauritz Melchior – might be construed a sophisticate’s party-joke, especially since Melchior hams up the various animals’ parts and spruces up the narrative with asides, the performance provides a rare glimpse into the broad and generous personality of this world-class singer. The poor quality of the recording will put off audiophiles because of its insistent crackle, swish, and even the presence of some other audio source not fully eliminated from the original. The playing of the NBC Symphony, however, is as accurate as William Tell’s arrow. Melchior’s palpable interaction with the audience, his geniality and tongue-in-cheek humor, are delightfully transparent. The Danish accent and avuncular pose make this a treat for music lovers of all ages.
The remainder of this anomalous CD is devoted to 1929-1930 Wagner inscriptions, via German Electrola and Ultraphone. These are marvelously clean transfers, with Melchior in strong, sweet voice, always resonant and augmented by clear diction.
One final anomaly, though: for the picture on the back cover bearing the caption ‘Fritz Reiner’, we have a nice photo of Eugene Ormandy!”
- Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition
“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 rôle 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