Lebendige Vergangenheit - Lauritz Melchior (Vol.3)

Artist Lauritz Melchior
Title Lebendige Vergangenheit - Lauritz Melchior (Vol.3)
Release Date Sunday, September 3, 2006
Genre Classical > Choro
Composers Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Giacomo Meyerbeer
Songwriters Lauritz Melchior / London Symphony Orchestra, Lauritz Melchior / New Symphony Orchestra / Berliner Staatsopern Orchester, London Symphony Orchestra / Lauritz Melchior, Lauritz Melchior / Berliner Staatsopern Orchester
Copyright © Preiser Records

Promotion Text

Lebendige Vergangenheit

Richard Wagner made frequent and detailed reference to the problems of voice production and summarized his primary requirements in the essay: ,,Concerning actors and singers." He regarded Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient as being the embodiment of his principles and ideals. Later he praised Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, a tenor of unmatched vocal intensity, unflagging energy and beautiful vocal production who, as Tannhäuser, managed "true fullness of tone and perfect beauty even in soaring moments of pained expressivity." When we read that description today we automatically think of a singer who is generally regarded as the most important Wagner tenor in gramophone history: Lauritz Melchior. He observed every single demand that Wagner made scrupulously - the delineation of vocal phrases with the utmost expressivity, perfect German pronunciation close adherence to note values. Thu? we may regard Melchior's singing as an ideal synthesis of natural talent, vocal schooling and a firm grasp of the intellectual concept. Melchior's voice was used with technical and musical perfection and was, moreover, blessed with almost intoxicating vocal splendor. It was a voice that had stamina, strength and real 'Heldentenor' metal, a voice that was equally capable of producing ringing top notes, introspective 'mezza voce' (Parsifal) and visionary ecstasy. (Tristan) The theory - propounded in treatises on singing even today - that Wagner roles lead to vocal ruin has had to be considerably modified because of Melchior: for more than thirty years the tenor concentrated almost exclusively on the Wagner repertoire. He sang Tristan more than one hundred times. Even after his operatic farewell he was able, to start a new career as an operetta singer. lt may seem strange that it was not given to a German singer to be the fortunate fulfilment of Wagner's intentions but rather one who hailed from Den­ mark. However, one must not forget that practically no other Wagner singer prepared himself so thoroughly and methodically for a career as did Melchior. He was born on March 2. 1890, as the son of a cantor of the Anglican church in Copenhagen. He made his debut in 1913 at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen in the baritone role of Silvio (Pagliacci). He continued as a baritone for about five years and then gradually and tentatively tacled the tenor repertoire. On October 1, 1918 he made his debut as a tenor, singing the role of Tannhäuser. This baritone­ tenor metamorphosis is not as infrequent as one may imagine. Erik Schmedes, Richard Schubert and Set Svanholm also started as baritones. In order to perfect himself as a Wagner singer, Melchior went to Germany, contracted retired Wagner singers, managed to get an invitation to 'Haus Wahnfried' and eventually became a close friend of Cosima Wagner. Thus he familiarized himself, at the source, as it were, with Wagner's oeuvre. Steeped in the requisite style and mentality he now felt ready to face a world public. His Siegmund at Covent Garden was a sensation. After that he went from strength to strength, until he became the most important Wagner tenor of his age. Subsequently he sang in all the most important opera centers in Europe and America. He was a member of the Bayreuth ensemble from 1924 to 1931. He was also a member of the Metropolitan company from 1926 to the 1949/50 season. Melchior made a large number of records which allow us to hear this unmistakable voice not only in the repertoire he made his very own but also as a Liedersinger and as a master of the Italian dramatic tenor repertoire (Canio, Cavaradossi, Radames, Otello). The recordings made in the Indian summer of his career prove that he had lost none of his refulgent vocal sheen. When he was in his seventies he was still able to sing Siegmund's sword monologue with the intensity and brilliant vocal emission of a singer half his age. Lauritz Melchior was one of the most important tenors in the history of singing. Among the Wagner tenors of our century he is the only one who may legitimately be regarded as being on a footing with the legendary tenors: Niemann, Schnorr, Gudehus and Winkelmann.