Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal

Lauritz Melchior Web

1924-1926

 

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Performance Chronologies:

1890-1920   1920-1924                    1926-1929   1929-1931 

1931-1933   1933-1935   1935-1936   1936-1938  1938-1939

1939-1941   1941-1945   1945-1947   1948-1950   1950-1955

1956-1973

Warning! This performance chronology is very incomplete. It will be updated frequently. All information is subject to revision. Please bring factual or typographical errors to my attention so that they may be corrected as soon as possible. Thank you.


SUMMER 1924-JANUARY 1926

Melchior makes his debut as Parsifal at the July 1924 re-opening of the Bayreuth Festival; returns for the 1925 festival; debuts in Siegfried; gives his first opera performances in Berlin; becomes a member of Berlin's Städtische Oper; gives recitals all over Germany, including Wagner concerts with Siegfried Wagner; makes acoustic phonograph records for the German company Parlophon; and, engaged by Giulio Gatti-Casazza for the 1925-1926 season of the Metropolitan Opera, travels to the United States for the first time in January 1926.


 

July-August 1924

Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal, circa 1924
  • BAYREUTH FESTIVAL 1924. The first Festival since 1914 begins with a performance of Meistersinger conducted by Fritz Busch. The personnel are a mixture of familiar faces and debutants, while the scenic designs and technology remain much the same as when they were first created in the 1880s, with small modifications.  Melchior arrives at Bayreuth before his debut performance for rehearsals. The productions he prepares for are (his first) Parsifals, Karl Muck conducting; and two 'Ring Cycle' Die Walküres, Michael Balling conducting. Melchior's last performance of the 1924 season is on August 20.
23 July 1924: Parsifal. Muck. Melchior (DEBUT), Mayr, Scheidl, Habich, Watzke, Krüger

26 July 1924: Walküre. Balling. Melchior, Soomer, Braun, Krüger, Blomé, Hvoslef-Hanson

14 August 1924:
Walküre. See 26 July 1924.

(there are further Parsifal dates)

Reviews:

New York Times, July 23, 1924 (Olin Downes): "Lauritz Melchior...sang [Parsifal] with a beautiful tone quality and a spirit which was dramatic, but never mawkish" (p. 7).

New York Times, July 30, 1924 (Olin Downes): "Only one conspicuous new talent has been discovered [at this year's Festival.]  That is the Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior, who gave a good performance as Parsifal and a much better one as Siegmund....He is developing into a dramatic tenor of the first rank." (p. 13)

Berliner Tageblatt, August 1, 1924 (Adolf Aber): "The Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior's high level of vocal skill is unquestionable; but stylistically and in his mastery of the German language he still has a number of things to learn, before he can be considered a great Wagner singer."

New York Herald Tribune, August 17, 1924: "Undoubtedly the 'find' this year is the Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior.  His voice is warm and flexible, with particularly beautiful high notes and a rich tone quality.  He made his debut in "Parsifal," which attracted the immediate attention of critics, but it was as Siegmund that he really showed us what he could do.  He is a magnificent looking young man, tall and powerful with an ease and debonair grace that are unusual in operatic singers. His first act was a revelation of acting and singing.  Most Siegmunds shout at the top of their voice through this scene, but Melchior played it with infinite beauty, and infused the stereotyped gestures of the love scene with a passion and tenderness that denote wonderful temperament. He is certainly one of the great tenors of the future"  (Lilian T. Mowrer, p. 15).

The Living Age (US magazine) 13 September 1924: "Herr Lorenz [sic] Melchior received high praise from some critics as Siegmund but Herr Marschall [of the Berlin paper Vossische Zeitung] insists that his inclusion in the cast was 'a dangerous experiment, and experiments-especially dangerous ones-are the last thing that the director of a festival production ought to attempt'" (p.564).

September-10 October 1924
  • Concert (recital?) tour of Germany: includes Nuremburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hannover, Bremen, Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, and Berlin.
19 November 1924
  • Berlin Stadtische Oper: Parsifal [sic-Staatsoper?] [Berlin operatic debut?]
3 December 1924
  • Recording session, Berlin: Parlophon records. Wagner excerpts. Paul Breisach conducts.
4 December 1924
  • Magdeburg Opera: Walküre.
7 December 1924
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
[1924]
  • further recitals this year include Dortmund, Germany (composer Richard Trunk as accompanist); and Stettin.


 



1925
[Electrical recording is introduced this year, but Melchior may not have made any records by this process until the spring of 1926]
 

5,6 January 1925
  • Recording sessions: Parlophon records, Berlin, including an excerpt from Parsifal and the duet from Tannhäuser, "O Fürstin" with Emmy Bettendorf as Elisabeth. Paul Breisach conducts.

The Gramophone, June 1925, on the Parsifal: "Mr. Melchior is a very loud tenor, whose voice is not well suited to this role.  There is a thinness in the tone and a certain tightness, that conspire to prevent his emotion from reaching us in full purity, when it attains any state of stress.  A vibrato also does not improve his singing.  He is evidently putting a lot into the part, and it is rather a pity we do not get more out of it" (p. 37).

The Gramophone, July 1925, on the Tannhäuser: "Miss Bettendorf sings more delicately than her partner, whose very big voice is not readily or gracefully damped down. He is happiest (though we are not, always) when he is letting it go. He sings clearly, with a good amount of emotion of an honest kind" (p.88)

13 January 1925
  • Breslau: Walküre
14 January, 1925
  • Breslau: Parsifal
26 January 1925
  • Braunschweig Opera: Walküre. Melchior, --, --, Manski,-- , --
January 1925
  • Braunschweig. Concert; a Wagner concert conducted by Siegfried Wagner.
28 January 1925
  • Recording session, Parlophon. Lieder by Richard Trunk and Grieg. Breisach conducts.
14 February 1925
  • Recital: Blüthnersaal; Berlin. His accompanist is Richard Trunk. Puccini, Meyerbeer. 
19 February 1925
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre.
Early 1925
  • 1. Recital: Braunschweig, Germany: "Melchior primarily sang songs by his accompanist Richard Trunk," according to the April 1925 Die Musik (pg. 542).

    2. Concert: Magdeburg, Germany: All Wagner.
  • While performing in Berlin this Winter/Spring, Melchior may also be continuing to receive instruction from Ernst Grenzebach
[April 1925- death of Lauritz Melchior's father Jørgen Melchior in Copenhagen]
circa April 1925-Melchior is engaged by Met director Giulio Gatti-Casazza for the 1925-1926 season at the Met. On 15 May 1925, Gatti announces in the New York Times that "Lauritz Melchior, tenor from the Berlin Opera and Bayreuth, will appear next season at the Met."  

 

11, 23 May 1925
  • Stettin Opera: Cav/Pag (on 23 May Cavalleria only)  Melchior also gives at least three concerts in Stettin during the 1924-1925 season.

 Return to top

From Germany to Denmark

26 May 1925-Lauritz Melchior, just divorced, and Maria "Kleinchen" Hacker, are married in Copenhagen.
 

From Denmark to England

early June 1925-Melchior travels to England  

From England to Germany

6 June 1925
  • Chemnitz Opera: Parsifal
July-20 August 1925
  • BAYREUTH FESTIVAL 1925. Melchior's contribution this season, beginning  the 23rd of July, is to the productions of Parsifal and the two 'Ring Cycle' Walküres. Most casts and crew are the same as last year, the most notable addition to the season being Friedrich Schorr, who makes his Bayreuth debut as Wotan.
23 July 1925: Parsifal. Muck. Melchior, Braun, Scheidl, Habich, Watzke, Kemp

Walküre. Balling. Melchior, Soomer/Braun, Schorr, Krüger, Blomé, Ranzenberg

(further dates/info to be added)

Reviews:

New York Times: "The title role (Parsifal) was superbly interpreted by Lauritz Melchior....Melchior proved himself today not only a singer of marvelous range, but a great actor as well." (Melchior in Parsifal, July 24, 1925)

BZ am Mittag: (Adolf Weissman, 27 July 1925): "As Parsifal, Lauritz Melchior was at his best when he can utilize his tenor's baritonal shine....uniform coloration of voice he has still to acquire."

"Lauriz [sic] Melchior has raised his high reputation this year yet further. His tenor produces, at first, a heavy, baritonal sound, but then shines forth more and more with genuine heroic vigor. Those qualities, combined with his tall stature and his first rate acting, mark him as a heldentenor with very few equals. As Parsifal, he is somewhat too robust. He is Siegmund to perfection. The Walsung-Pair found thrilling representation in his duet with the excellent, wonderful Emmy Krueger." (Richard Sternfeld, Allgemeine Music-Zeitung, p. 741)

Brooklyn Eagle: "He is...a great Wagnerian tenor....His Parsifal was indisputably fine, made so by a voice so powerful, of such range and flexibility, of such suggestive expressiveness [but graceless in stage deportment, unlike his Siegmund]....Melchior might be vocally a perfect Tristan, and one hopes that he will sing that role during the coming season at the Metropolitan."  (Cushing, "Lauritz Melchior, tenor, Proves Dominant Figure in Bayreuth's "Parsifal", p. 4C)

Melchior's Bayreuth appearances continue to nurture international interest in him. For example, the August 3, 1925 issue of Time tells its American readership that

new hope was born in Manhattan operagoers with the appearance [at the 1925 Bayreuth festival] of tenor Lauritz Melchior, an able actor with a good voice, who will come next year to the Metropolitan Opera House.

And Allgemeine Music-Zeitung tells its German readership around the same time that

a new force of great promise for Wagner music is engaged to be with us [in America] in the upcoming year, namely Lauritz Melchior, owing to his consequential appearances at Bayreuth. (Maurice Halperson, p. 692).

[Fall 1925]-Melchior joins the Berlin Städtische Oper company, reopening after a closing due to bankruptcy, under intendant Heinz Tietjen.   Bruno Walter is general music director.
 
16 September 1925
  • Berlin: recording session, Parlophon Records: these are acoustic recordings from Siegfried, the role he will be debuting in two months. Frieder Weissmann conducts.

Times (London): "[Melchior] sings two excerpts from Siegfried...with a combination of clear diction, rich tone, and dramatic value that reproduces well." (pg. 12)

28 September 1925
  • Berlin, Städtische Oper: Walküre
21 October 1925
  • Berlin, Städtische Oper: Tannhäuser.  Melchior's first in Germany.
27 October 1925
  • Berlin, Städtische Oper: Walküre
5 November 1925
  • Berlin, Städtische Oper: Tannhäuser
18, 22 November 1925
  • Berlin, Städtische Oper: Parsifal
25 November 1925
  • Magdeburg, Germany: Siegfried DEBUT. Brecher. Melchior, Elschner,--,--,--,--,--, Leider
11 December 1925
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried

 

From Germany to Austria

 

18 December 1925
  • Vienna State Opera: Tannhäuser. Reichenberger. Melchior, Schipper, Hellesgruber, Kappel, Lehmann. (Melchior's first guest appearance in Vienna)
"Tannhäuser was Lauritz Melchior from the Berlin City Opera. He began dully/airlessly, mimic-like, then forthwith took one by surprise with robustly belted-out tones. The exceptionally mighty voice sits low in his throat, the defects of resonance particularly palpable in his descent down to his low notes and in the piano.  Mr. Melchior overcame himself in the first act Finale, showed in the second act several lovely colorations and acting nuances, was the vocal victor of the song contest with his ecstatic outburst, "Dir, Göttin der Liebe," and failed at the most vital moment of the second act Finale. In the fervent outbursts of the Rome Narration he definitely revealed, that he has qualities, but at the moment, in technical aspects, he is still premature. Also he has trouble in his handling of the text. Certain shortcomings are naturally resulting from awkwardness [of a debut] and unfamiliarity with the acoustical circumstances. His musical art, his unaffected temperament, and prepossessing outward appearance, speak in favor of the young singer, who has already sung Siegmund at Bayreuth." (Neue Freie Presse, p. 21)
20 December 1925
  • Vienna State Opera: Walküre. Schalk (?). Melchior, Markhoff, Schipper, Lehmann, Kappel, Olszewska.

 

From Austria to Germany

 

December 1925
  • Concert: Berlin. Melchior in an all-Wagner concert conducted by Siegfried Wagner.

"Melchior sang, with splendid steely strength, and with lyrical expression not wanting, the "Rome Narration" from Tannhäuser, the "Forging songs" from Siegfried, and two orchestrated songs, Schmerzen and Träume" (Allgemeine Music-Zeitung,  1 Jan. 1926, p. 11).

[1925-1926 concert season]
  • Recitals in Germany this season include Breslau and Stettin.


1926

1 January 1926
  • Berlin Städtische Oper: Tannhäuser
9 January 1926
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
[1926]
  • Recording sessions: Polydor, Berlin. Songs, L'Africaine and Tannhäuser excerpts. Early electrical recordings.

 

From Germany to England

 

10 January 1926-Travelling to London from Berlin, Mr. & Mrs. Melchior meet up with Melchior's singing teacher Victor Beigel, who is coming to the United States to teach classes and lecture as well as to observe Melchior's Met debut. They take the Aquitania from Southampton on 20 January 1926.  

From England to the United States

24 January 1926-The Melchiors and Victor Beigel arrive in New York City. The Melchiors stay in an apartment at 70 Riverside Drive, Manhattan  
RETURN TO TOP Return to Chronology, 1890-1919 Onwards to Chronology, 1926-1929
 

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Last Updated October 8, 2005