Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal

Lauritz Melchior Web

1926-1929

 

Mini-Bio-Timeline  Filmography  Bibliography Repertoire Photo Gallery Selected Recordings

Performance Chronologies:

1890-1920   1920-1924   1924-1926                    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.


FEBRUARY 1926 to JANUARY 1929

Melchior makes his debut at the Met and his concert, recital, and radio debuts in the United States; records for the US record company Brunswick, and German Parlophon, makes his first electric recordings, debuts in Götterdämmerung, Lohengrin and Otello; performs at the 1927 and 1928 Bayreuth Festivals...


[Lauritz Melchior's first trip to New York in February 1926 marks his first journey to the New World. Calvin Coolidge is in the White House, and Prohibition has kept cocktail glasses full since 1920].

17 February 1926
  • Met Opera: Tannhäuser. Bodanzky. Melchior, Friedrich Schorr, Michael Bohnen, Karin Branzell, Maria Jeritza. Sets: Hans Kautsky. Direction: Samuel Thewman. The sets used for Wagner performances at the Met date from the reinstitution of German opera in the company's repertoire following World War I.

"Melchior came back from his interview with the pope in much better vocal condition than when he left the Wartburg festival hall. His vocal displays in the first act were not happy. The color of his voice was distinctly barytone and he revealed...constriction and forced tone....he used few head tones, much of his upper range was not congenial to him and the quality of tone was far from lyric....He appeared to be quite as comfortable in the rosy haunts of the Venusberg as in the Wartburg circles of sober respectability....he found inspiration...in Rome. Warmth and ferver [sic] crept into his voice and his whole interpretation increased in stature, dramatic conviction and profundity of feeling. He should be a useful addition to the house and he is probably capable of greater things than were brought forward yesterday" (W. J. Henderson, New York Sun, p. 27)

Musical Courier (February 25, 1926): "[Melchior's] fame has preceded him here from Bayreuth....[he] has a specially fine voice....the baritone quality, rich and warm, noticeable even at the very top, added to its effectiveness. He sang...with a noticeable lack of that forcing, only too often present in the singing of tenors of German opera. There were traces of...[forcing]...in the first two acts...due to the nervousness of a debut, but in the third act he was in command of all his resources and the "Rom Erzaehlung" was sung with a beauty of line and warmth of expression rarely heard. His appearance, also, is in his favor. Though large, he is well-proportioned, and his expressive, mobile countenance is a great aid to him in his acting. He moves about on the stage with much grace and there is absence of those abrupt gestures only too common in Wagnerian performances. All in all, for a new-comer he made a splendid impression auguring well for his future appearances here. The audience liked him very much." (p. 1)

Musical America (27 February, 1926): "His start was pretty bad...not only faulty pitch which amounted almost to incorrect notation, but also rhythmic unsteadiness....With the second scene, Melchior became master of the situation and from then on sang exceedingly well...His voice....is smooth in production and almost lyric at times, and there is none of the usual constriction in the upper register. In matters of varying tone-quality....Melchior did some good things....Histrionically, Mr. Melchior is distinctively good. He is tall, though somewhat inclined to be "fleshy," and his face, in repose, is not one of great expressiveness. In spite of all this, however, he is a convincing actor....Mr. Melchior's impatience at Wolfram's whey-like praise of Love in the Wartburg scene was delightfully portrayed and there were other little bits of fine acting too numerous to mention.  In the final scene the "Romerzählung" was magnificently sung and the accompanying action past criticism....Mr. Melchior is a distinct and valuable addition to the German arm of the company, and it would not be amiss to hear him in some Italian opera as well." (J.A.H.)

Brooklyn Eagle: "For two acts he displayed faults common to German tenors...disregarding the pitch, producing pinched tones and a forte like the rattle of a machine gun. In the last act he recovered and sang with notable success the narrative of his pilgrimage.  His is a naturally beautiful voice, warm and rich in its lower register, capable of an almost ravishing mezzo-voce and colored with a scrupulous regard for dramatic point...[but his movements are] awkward and inchoate...mammoth in bulk and heavy in movement." (Edward Cushing)

New York World: "Throaty emission, the straining on high notes, the sudden explosions...as an actor he is earnest and sincere, but his gestures and postures are naive, to say the least." (S. Chotzinoff, p. 13)

New York American: "Mr. Melchior presented a figure of heroic proportions and possesses a fine sense of the dramatic. His upper tones were rather constricted and colorless except when held down to half voice. For the rest, he sang feelingly and effectively....[Mme. Jeritza] shared innumerable recalls with Mr. Melchior" (G. Bennett, p. 26)

New York Telegram: "Mr. Melchior is an artist of experience and authority.  He comes to us well-seasoned....his Tannhaeuser proved a ripe and vigorous impersonation, conceived and carried out on a large scale. Mr. Melchior possesses the distinct and expressive diction typical of the best Bayreuth schooling.  His declamation has breadth and pith, he phrases musically, he can be lyrical in sustained song, his use of half-voice is skillful and artistic; he is no mere shouter or ranter, no rude and raving Wagnerphone. On the other hand, his vocal endowment is not unlimited. The voice itself is robust and powerful, but in character a barytone rather than a tenor. The highest notes he pinches. But in the working range the voice is as a rule freely produced, though when now and then he forces it, his tune becomes a goat song. Nevertheless...Mr. Melchior is vocally the most presentable singer for heroic tenor roles...[at the Met] in a good many years. As an actor this Dane is well supplied with traditional and useful, if not highly illuminating, gestures. His features are not notably expressive, and...he evidently disdains the cunning art of makeup. Nor was he fortunate yesterday in his costuming....However, Mr. Melchior possesses stature as well as girth...[All in all] he succeeded amply upon his American debut. The audience waxed most enthusiastic in his honor." (P. Sanborn)

New York Evening Journal: "Whilst not indeed a great tenor, [Melchior] is far better than anyone the Metropolitan has had in the German roles for a considerable time....The voice has genuine power, but not quite as much as he thinks it has and therefore it at times sounds forced. But it has a robust quality and he infuses it with much emotional stress. Almost throughout its range it holds a baritone timbre.  A true head tone is almost unknown to him. As an actor, the newcomer is also an improvement on the current exhibits of the German tenor wing" (Irving Weil, p. 31)

New York Times: "There is no denying that the music of Tannhäuser seemed yesterday high for him. The tone was forced and rough in quality and the melodic line suffered. Probably there were momentary conditions that affected the voice. There was marked improvement as the opera went on, and the "narrative" of the last act was impressively delivered. Here his singing had a quality and a freedom not apparent before." (Downes, p. 20)

New York Post: "Dramatically he belongs distinctly in the school possessed of all the Bayreuth and Munich traditions. Physically, he is of gigantic stature and musically he seems very sure of what he is doing. His singing in the Venusberg scene, probably as the result of nervousness, was not impressive, but he warmed up as the opera progressed and he was at his best both vocally and dramatically in the last act....He would be a valuable addition to any opera company....I feel he is not an artist one can even attempt to sum up at a single hearing. Yesterday his voice seemed at times to suffer from a tightness of the throat...." (Olga Samaroff, p. 7)

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior is tall and portly-too portly for his best interests....His mask is not expressive; nor has he, apparently, a natural instinct for the stage.  We felt this when we witnessed his Parsifal at Bayreuth last summer, and we felt it yesterday. His attitudes, his gestures, his way of entering a scene are awkward and inexpressive.  He lacks the ease and grace and plasticity of the good histrion....His indication, for instance, of Tannhäuser's growing excitement as that deplorable backslider remembers so inopportunely his affair with Venus, was technically incompetent.  Yet as the afternoon wore on, we could not help wondering if Mr. Melchior were giving a fair account of himself, for he delivered the great Narrative in the third act with genuine power and with even a touch of dramatic inspiration....His upper register is not always easy to listen to. But the voice has beauty...when he sings mezza voce[,] he dispenses a tone that is pleasurable. He can even sing piano on F sharp and produce a musical tone- as in his impressive utterance of "Elisabeth!" in the scene with the Landgraf and the Minstrels at the end of the First Act....Mr. Melchior sang most of the earlier passages of his scene with Venus distressingly off key-to the evident agony of Mr. Bodanzky.  And his feeling for rhythm seems insecure....Yet...we think Mr. Melchior is not unlikely to prove an asset to the Metropolitan." (Gilman, p. 14)

Time of March 1, 1926: "on the whole, he [Melchior] acquitted himself admirably, went in one afternoon to the head of the Metropolitan's class of availables for German tenor roles. An audience whose faith in German tenors has been badly shaken, took new hope, applauded him gratefully." (p. 18)

Washington Post of 18 February 1926: "Melchior...[sang] the role of Tannhauser effectively and [received] acclaim for his vocalization in the last act." (Associated Press)

23 February 1926
  • Met Opera in Philadelphia: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, Gustafson, Schorr, Müller, Larsen-Todsen, Telva.

Phil. Inquirer: "If warmth of musical emotions registered on the thermometer, it would have been mid-August in the Academy last night, however icy outside, at the height of the passionate love scene between Siegmund and Sieglinde....Such a first act...has assuredly not been given here in years and years, if ever before, and this was due to the superb equipment and artistry, vocal, histrionic and with something of the spirit brought to that ecstatic duet by Maria Mueller and Lauritz Melchior. These two superlative artists almost swamped the rest of the cast ....[Melchior] has a magnificent voice, splendidly employed, and there was ample eloquence in his acting as well, with something finely heroic.  He made a splendid impression" (Linton Martin, p. 4).

Melchior takes ill and has to cancel his next scheduled performance.

10 March 1926
  • Met Opera: Siegfried. Bodanzky. Melchior, Bloch, Schorr, Schuetzendorf, Gustafson, Kandt, Schumann-Heink, Larsen-Todsen. Sets: Kautsky. Direction: Thewman.

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior is a stalwart figure, a big robust looking Siegfried, who has the appearance of a primeval knight errant and would be expected in any forest community to do martial deeds. His interpretation was praiseworthy in every sense. He knew the significance of the text and was able to publish it effectively. His was a buoyant, free and youthful Siegfried, well developed dramatically through the...three acts" (W.J. Henderson, p. 29).

New York Times: "Melchior, in spite of a recent illness, gave an unusually interesting and intelligent impersonation....His stage business is authoritative....It is evident that Melchior has studied his roles carefully and well, and that he is far more than a routine performer....In essence this Siegfried proved a valuable Metropolitan acquisition" (Downes, p. 18).

New York World: "He displayed in his excellent diction and vocal security a musician's knowledge of the role [and was particularly good in the "Waldweben" scene]"  (S. Chotzinoff, p. 13)

New York Post: "He did many things yesterday, especially in the way of musical understanding, which fully account for the reputation he enjoys abroad as a Wagner singer....my impression is that the dramatic side of his art is the weakest....[because] Mr. Melchior seemed gauche and ill at ease in the last act...." (Olga Samaroff, p. 13)

New York Herald Tribune: "In view of the fact that Mr. Melchior had appeared as Siegfried only twice before...he acquitted himself very creditably indeed....The litheness and muscularity and youthful exuberance that are an essential part of one's imaginative picture of Wagner's heroic forest lad were not fully realized by Mr. Melchior [because he is overweight]....As it is, he conveys a good deal of the truculent naivete of the part and something of its humor (as in his business with the reed in the forest scene). He gave us less of its poetry and its virile charm, but there were moments of ecstatic wonder in the last scene.  Mr. Melchior seemed at times to have his own ideas of tempo, and these were not always Mr. Bodanzky's" (Gilman, p. 19)

New York Telegram: "If the gentleman's voice betrayed any signs of illness one forgot them speedily in the satisfaction of his singing. Seldom anywhere is the music of Siegfried sung-really sung-not barked, growled, screamed, roared, bellowed-as it was at the Metropolitan yesterday....[It was] of a welcome competence and discreet, adroitly modulated, often of a fine expressiveness. If in face and figure Mr. Melchior is by no means an ideal forest lad, at least he made a big and personable Siegfried, and his acting was both intelligent and vivid. It was a pleasure to discover in his performance not a little of the best Bayreuth tradition, both in details of stage business and in the freedom and breadth of his tempi-though here and there these latter brought him into momentary conflict with the conductor....Mr. Melchior did far better by his reputation than he had as Tannhaeuser....the [Met's] most commendable Young Siegfried in many a long year." (Sanborn)

New York American: "His appearance as the young hero filled every possible demand: youth, vigorous action, boyish enthusiasm, a symmetrical figure of classic mold and grace" (Bennett, p. 11)

The March 18 issue of Musical Courier notes that "The new singer had been having trouble with his throat and the New York climate, and was still running a temperature on the Monday previous, but agreed to sing in order to make the performance possible. Naturally his voice was not at its brilliant best, but...he was able to sing well enough to give one an idea of how good he must be when he is not handicapped. He looked the young Siegfried to the life, and acted him with buoyancy and spirit."

"Melchior's Siegfried had...visual prejudices to remove....The artist's real handicap was his excess of weight, which was emphasized by [his revealing] bearskin costume....His singing had little trace of [his recent illness]. Vocally...it was free from barking and shouting and in the half-voice was often of musical charm. In action, it had many individual details that were highly effective-and would have been much more so if his appearance had better simulated athletic youth....he gave the impression of a ripened impersonation and one steeped in the traditions....If his tempi and those of Mr. Bodanzky were not always in agreement, the preference lay with the singer's" (O. Thompson, Musical America)

21 March 1926-Melchior and Rudolf Laubenthal are guests at Met patron Mrs. Watts' tea.

28 March 1926
  • Met Concert: Melchior sings the final scene from Act I of Walküre with Maria Müller, conducted by Giuseppe Bamboschek.
30 March 1926
  • Recital, Aeolian Hall, New York. Melchior makes his NYC recital debut. Walter Golde is his accompanist. His recital includes songs by Bechgaard, Heise, Sjöberg, Alnæs, Merikanto, Trunk, Hageman, Victor Beigel, Richard Strauss, John Ireland, William G. James, the arias "O Paradis," "Winterstürme", and, among his numerous encores, "Jezst Spielen" ("Vesti la Giubba" auf Deutsch)

New York Herald Tribune, March 31: "A very likeable recital....Mr. Melchior is thoroughly at home on the concert platform....There was a pleasantly substantial quality in his voice, unusual strength, and in moderate or soft notes, a pleasing quality of tone. In louder passages and declamatory numbers, he was expressively very effective, but here his singing...was rather stridently vociferous....Melchior's softer notes...have an appealing quality, with a slightly dusty tone growing clearer; he sang with sympathetic expressiveness....Mr. Melchior fared very commendably with the English language....Applause was unusually warm....It was a generally auspicious recital debut here, with the tenor's poise an added asset."

New York Sun, March 31 (W.J. Henderson): "He [is] a song interpreter of very high rank....There is beauty of quality throughout the scale....unusual and extremely finished use of head tones....exquisite sense of the melodic line and an admirable justice of phrasing....One perceived the mastery of a singer who was able to spin the tone through long and sustained utterances with confidence born of technical certainty and with a conviction of the purpose of the composer....Melchior displayed sensibility, taste and feeling. But of greater importance were the poetic imagination and the musical instinct discovered in every number....[He gave a] deeply emotional and technically excellent delivery of Heise's "Vagen af din Slummer" and Schoeberg [sic]'s "Tonerna"....The truth seems to be that the song recital is Mr. Melchior's real field....[a place where] he can present the interpretations which he has constructed according to the dictates of an artistic intelligence of a high order. Such a lieder singer should be able to make a brilliant concert career in this country and establish for himself a celebrity such as he has acquired in England as well as on the European continent."

N.Y. Telegram (Pitts Sanborn, p. 6-7): "Even more impressively than as Siegfried he revealed on this occasion his artistic scope and stature....[Although] Mr. Melchior sang [the Scandinavian songs] with vigor and relish, so much breath enveloped his tones as to give an impression of hoarseness. Yet the fact that his voice grew clearer the higher it went gave the lie to that hypothesis. In due coarse most of this undue breathiness disappeared, the voice rang out rich and free, and on occasion...high notes poured forth with an ease, a fulness [sic] and a splendor of sonority not equaled here by any man labeled tenor since the later prime of Caruso. Mr. Melchior is endowed with a seemingly endless breath, over which he exercises a rare control, and above all he possesses that essential foundation of all great singing, an absolutely firm "appui." One result is a legato like unto few, thanks to which Mr. Melchior can phrase as he wills (as a rule, last evening, he willed to phrase admirably.) Another result is a wide dynamic range. He can sing with delicacy as well as with resounding strength.  In general he relied, as the best singers do, on a normal mezzo-forte.  Noteworthy, in particular, was his skilful use of head tones in..."Do Not Go, My Love." He has, furthermore, a keen sense of rhythm, and, then, his singing is vivid, with emotion artistically controlled....Mr. Melchior came through..."O Paradis"...with honor, though not until the following English group (Mr. Melchior's English is for the most part excellent) did he attain an untrammelled and complete freedom of utterance.  Then his artistic authority was indeed superb...The audience was deservedly enthusiastic, calling for repetitions and additional numbers. It might, however, have been larger."

Musical Courier: "His voice is a magnificent organ. In size and brilliance it recalls that of Leo Slezak twenty years ago, though its quality is warmer and more refined.  It is produced freely and evenly throughout its range, though the very bigness of his voice occasionally tempts Mr. Melchior to give more than he needs to on the high notes."

Musical America: "Mr. Melchior has an admirable artistry in song.  The impression he had made previously in operatic appearances had not prepared one for the kind of interpretative skill that he disclosed in this recital....He relied less upon vigor and volume of sound....Not that he abated the clear sonority of his high and open tones, which rang out splendidly in his opening aria [from Bechgaard's Frode] and in such climactic moments as the close of Hannikainen's impassioned lyric....The surprise lay in the uniform beauty of his mezza-voce throughout his range, the clarity of his subdued head-tones and the finesse of his phrasing.  His technical proficiency was evident in the surety of breath that firmly supported the tone, the directness of attack, the accuracy of pitch, the fluency of legato line and the command of dynamic nuances...Only one who applies critical intelligence to the analysis of a song, as well as poetic imagination to the presentation, can give readings as finished in style. He has sure instinct for line and rhythm and a musicianly taste that governs his emotional expression.  The recital was one of the most enjoyable heard in any New York hall this season. The audience approved to the point of demanding several repetitions of songs and the addition of extra numbers."

New York Times: March 31: (Olin Downes): "Always sincere and direct in expression, and gifted with a fresh and beautiful voice...[in his opening group of songs] his high tones were not produced with ease or freedom, that he pushed them and that they lost in roundness and quality as a result...the tone emission itself is often at fault...it is questionable how Mr. Melchior's upper register will develop if it is employed with so much breath pressure and physical effort. It is much to be hoped that this defect will be remedied, for this singer is not only physically gifted; he is an intelligent and manly interpreter.  Melchior...displayed sentiment and a spirit that caught the audience. When the voice became warmer, freer, more brilliant, as it did in the course of the evening, he made some admirable effects...There are in Mr. Melchior the capacities for singing that will meet the tests of the concert hall as well as the operatic stage. He is still a young man, and his future is his own if he can develop his voice in the manner that its qualities and his talent merit."

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: "Mr. Melchior gave a very good account of himself. The Metropolitan should congratulate itself upon having added to its ranks a German tenor possessing so excellent an artistic equipment...He produces tones in his lower and middle voice with complete ease, and his mezza voce is often of extraordinary beauty. But since the quality of his voice is inherently baritone, he experiences a little difficulty in achieving a free, unforced and musical tone on his high notes."

New York Evening Journal: "He featured a number of Scandinavian songs on his well chosen programme and sang them with a certain gusto that aroused his audience to enthusiasm.  His singing, on the whole, was more than usually interesting in spite of the fact that it was marked by some of the inalienable characteristics of the operatic artist." (City Edition, p. 5)

"Pierre Key's Music Article" (a syndicated newspaper column) April 11: (Discussing Melchior's first American performances in general, particularly his recital debut) "The sense of the melodic line which this artist possesses is evidenced in an exceptional degree. He expresses mood also, and his diction is a delight to hear. Music patrons throughout the country should embrace any opportunity to hear Mr. Melchior."

2 April 1926
  • Met Opera: Parsifal. Bodanzky. Melchior, Bohnen, Schorr, Schuetzendorf, Gustafson, Larsen-Todsen. Sets: Joseph Urban. Direction: Wymetal. This is the last of Melchior's four performances his first season at the Met.

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior...did some of the best singing that he has yet given on the Metropolitan Stage....[Not only was the performance a sellout but] many were turned from the doors of the theatre" (p. 14).

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior, who seems devoted to the utmost economy and simplicity of attire in Wagner's music dramas, gave a creditable and often moving portrayal of the title role....Properly dull, spiritless and witless [in Act I]....Mr. Melchior failed to realize vocally the full flood of realization and pent up passion realized by Kundry's kiss....His best work was reserved for the third act, in which the entire performance rose to a high mark of exalted mood and earnest conviction. For Parsifal here achieved a dignity and a depth of emotional force which leads one to suspect that Mr. Melchior often figuratively fails to lay all his interpretative cards on the operatic table" (p. 5).

New York World: "the best singing he has done yet." (Chotzinoff, p. 13)

New York Telegram: "Mr. Melchior added to his waxing reputation.  His Parsifal is a much finer impersonation than it was at Bayreuth the year before last, conceived and executed, as it is, with a subtler, more richly developed sense of dramatic psychology. And though the tenor is perhaps not the most credible forest born lad physically, the performance is agreeably free from awkwardness or wanton exaggeration. The march and mutation of expressions through the successive episodes of Klingsor's garden he managed with admirably convincing simplicity, suggestiveness and ease of transition.  The quality of his singing varied widely throughout the performance....Perhaps its greatest variability lay in Mr. Melchior's production of his high voice, which, though occasionally free and untrammeled in execution, sounded at other times forced and improperly resonant. Curiously enough, the differences often affected the very same note." (Sanborn)

New York American: "His conception of the part was heroic, agreeably sung, acted with distinction and withal, convincingly mystical." (Bennett)

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior...knows the traditions...He gives veraciousness to the Guileless Fool, and at times he produces an admirable effect by simple means-as, for example, in the scene of the killing of the swan....In such complex and subtle passages as that of Kundry's enlightening kiss he is frequently beyond his depth. Much of his singing fell gratefully upon the ear.  There is beauty in Mr. Melchior's voice, especially in its middle register; and his mezza voce effects are uncommonly happy.  This is a good "Parsifal"...though it lacks the final touch of illuminating imagination."  (p. 12)

Musical America, April 10: "His European reputation has rested not a little on his Parsifal at Bayreuth. Save for his too ample girth...he was a Parsifal of more illusion than any of his immediate predecessors. Moreover, his singing was generally of good tonal quality, with almost no forcing and with much tasteful use of the half-voice. His production was again distinctly better than that of the typical Wagner tenor. His acting had restraint and intelligence and a measure of real characterization, as he made manifest in his first few moments on the stage." (Oscar Thompson)

Musical Courier: "The best Wagner performance of the season.  Lauritz Melchior, in the title part, had the first opportunity really to show the Metropolitan audience what an acquisition he is to the forces...It was sung beautifully throughout and acted with real feeling. For once it was conceivable that Parsifal is something more than the boob he is usually depicted to be....The house had been sold out days in advance."

12 April 1926
  • Concert, Carnegie Hall: with Madame Charles Cahier, Julia Claussen and William Gustafson (two fellow Met Wagnerians), and violinist Florence Stern.
15, 21, 27 April 1926
  • Recording sessions: Brunswick Records, New York, for excerpts from Walküre and Meistersinger (on 15th), songs by Hageman and von Klenau (on the 21st).

    These are the first of a good number of recording sessions Melchior will have in New York for Brunswick this year and next, however, only two records (four songs) are released. These dates may be Melchior's first experiences with the electrical recording process. The engineers for Bruswick place him far too close to the microphone. (As they also did for Elisabeth Rethberg in her contemporaneous recordings for the company). Too closely miked recordings will become the standard for American-engineered operatic recordings.

The Gramophone, March 1927, reviewing the Walküre and Meistersinger: "Another welcome instalment [sic] on account from the excellent tenor who is going to sing Siegmund (but not Walther) at Covent Garden this season.  He certainly has a fine voice and uses it in the heroic manner. His tone is more "covered" and refined in the Prize Song than the "Walküre" piece, but he sustains and phrases well in both, while his German diction might truly serve as a model.  The sole fault worth pointing out is the audible gasp for breath. It might escape notice in the theatre, but on the gramophone it is palpable and irritating" (p. 418).

The Gramophone, October 1926, reviewing the Hageman and Klenau: "Melchior gives one of the most imaginative renderings I know of the popular Hageman song ["Do not go, my Love"], and his fine and sensitive voice makes much of it....Melchior could give lessons on the singing of English to most English singers" (Compton Mackenzie, p. 205).

 RETURN TO TOP

From the United States to England

 

11 May 1926-Mr. and Mrs. Melchior arrive in Dover, England and travel to London for the opera season.  
15 May 1926
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Bruno Walter. Melchior, Allin, Schipper, Lehmann, Kappel, Olszewska

Times: "The first act was magnificently sung [by the principals]....Herr Melchior is able to colour his voice to suit the dramatic moment in the way which we are accustomed to hear from the female singers in the cast and from some of the baritones, but so rarely from tenors" (p. 2).

17 May 1926
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Walter. Melchior, Reiss, Schipper,--,--,--,Olszewska, Kappel

Times: "Herr Bruno Walter and Herr Lauritz Melchior together secured a virile performance of Siegfried last night...Herr Melchior was well able to sustain the position [of center stage], for he has not only the physical energy of voice and action which is the essential qualification of the helden tenor. With the words, "So starb meine Mutter an Mir" he gave us a glimpse of something more, a capacity for intimacy and beauty of tone in reflective moments which became more evident as the opera progressed, and reached its fulfillment in the last scene....occasionally Herr Melchior, and more often Herr Reiss, were not quite prepared [for Walter's "tight hold...on the multiform scherzo-like rhythms of the first act"]...[Kappel] and Herr Melchior with the orchestra carried the finale to an exuberant climax." (p. 6).

Observer (May 23): "Melchior's Siegmund, especially in his scene with Bruennhilde, was better than his Siegfried, which was hard and angular" (Fox-Strangways, p. 13)

1 June 1926-Melchior sings at a reception of Countess Ahlefeldt-Laurvig's at the Danish Legation in London  
2 June 1926
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Walter. Melchior, Helgers, Schipper, Jeritza, Kappel, Luise Willer 

Times: "direct and manly singing"  (p. 14.)

Los Angeles Times: (Pierre Key's syndicated music column) "[This season at Covent Garden there were] splendid bits of singing by Laurente Melchoir [sic!] (though I prefer his fine tenor in recital to hearing him in opera)." (July 11, 1926).

 

From England to Germany

 

Summer-Fall 1926
  • Recital/Concert Tour: Melchior is performing concerts/recitals in Germany, including Lübeck, Bremen, and Stettin, and also giving radio broadcasts, including a concert internationally (to England, at least) transmitted from Hannover [Hamburg??] around October 12th. There is a joint recital with pianist Hermann Hoppe at the Berlin Sing-Akademie (including Richard Strauss and Wagner's "Wiesendonk lieder") around September 11.
16 September 1926
  • Berlin Städtische: Walküre. Bruno Walter.
29 September 1926
  • Recording sessions: Parlophone Records, Berlin, including the "bridal chamber" duet from Lohengrin with Emmy Bettendorf. Frieder Weissmann conducting.

The Gramophone, September 1926: "[In the Parlophone company's Wagner series] I may single out Lauritz Melchior, the Danish tenor, who as Siegmund and Siegfried has recently created such a profound impression at Covent Garden. He has also recorded for Polydor, by the way" (Peter Latham, p. 134).

The Gramophone, January 1927: "In the Parlophone [record company] list...nobody should overlook the duet from Lohengrin between Bettendorf and Melchior....Both for the way it is sung and the way it is recorded I should call this the best Wagner vocal record hitherto published....In Melchior [Bettendorf] has an ideal partner" (Compton Mackenzie, p. 319)

From Germany to Czechoslovakia

2 October 1926
  • Concert, Prague: Soloist in all-Wagner program. Czech Philharmonic, conductor Frantisek Stupka.

From Germany to the US

20 October 1926-Melchior boards the Majestic ocean liner from Cherbourg; he arrives in New York on 26 October 1926 and  begins his first US concert tour of about 30 concerts and recitals through next Spring. When in New York City, Mr. and Mrs. Melchior stay in an apartment on Riverside Drive in Manhattan  
29, 30, 31 October 1926
  • Concerts: Emery Auditorium, Cincinnati, Ohio. Fritz Reiner conducts the Cincinnati Symphony. Melchior sings excerpts from Lohengrin, Meistersinger, Walküre, and Siegfried.

    "He took the audience by storm," the Musical Courier of November 18 reports, and so is asked to appear at a third concert not on his schedule by force of demand (p. 17). (This third perf. should be on Oct. 31)
    Musical America
    of November 20 declares, "The singing of Lauritz Melchior was magnificent. The artist gave his dramatic numbers with much fire." Encores are called for.

Cincinnati Post: "He proved at the two concerts that he is easily one of the leading tenors of the world"

early November 1926
  • Concerts: Melchior gives recitals in Grand Rapids, and other places.
1 November 1926
  • Concert: Murat Theater, Indianapolis, IN. Reiner, Cincinnati SO. 5 Wagner selections.
10 November 1926
  • Recital, Orchestra Hall, Chicago. Melchior makes his Chicago recital debut as a last-minute replacement for contralto Sophie Braslau in a dual recital with pianist Alfred Cortot. Melchior's accompanist is Isaac Van Grove. Melchior's program includes "O Paradis", "Winterstürme", and songs, including those by Merikanto, Sjöberg, Alvæs and Grieg.

    The Chicago Daily Tribune's review makes especial note of his "forceful, ringing high notes" (p.33).

Musical America of 20 November relates, "in the heroic degree of resonance noted in Mr. Melchior's voice it was easy to guess how effective he might be upon the stage...There was nothing sentimental in Mr. Melchior's delivery of Scandinavian songs...but there was much that encompassed delicacy in a dignified fashion."

18 November 1926
  • Recital: Omaha, Nebraska
19 November 1926
  • Recital: Iowa State Teacher's College, Cedar Falls, Iowa. His recital program includes songs by Richard Strauss, Grieg, and Heise, as well as "Winterstürme."
26 November 1926
  • Recital: Springfield, Illinois.

       Springfield Daily Sun: "His artistry is without flaw"

28 November 1926
  • Concert, Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY, Brooklyn Philharmonic. Willem Mengelberg. Melchior sings "Siegfried's Forging Songs" as soloist.
  • Brooklyn Eagle: "Mr. Melchior managed it [the Wagner excerpt] nobly, though his upper tones were pinched and though it was evident that were more to be demanded of him he would have nothing to give." (Edward Cushing, p. 8)
2 December 1926
  • Recital: Lynchburg, Virginia
7 December 1926
  • Recital: Chicago with Alfred Blumen, pianist, Blackstone Hotel at 11:00AM.
8 December 1926
  • Recital: Des Moines, Iowa
16, 17 December 1926
  • Concerts, Carnegie Hall: Mengelberg conducts the New York Philharmonic in the New York premiere of Szymanowski's 3rd symphony ("Song of the Night"). Lauritz Melchior is the tenor soloist in a "composer-approved" version without chorus. He probably sings the solo in German. Melchior also sings the sword-forging scene from Siegfried.

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior had to shout at the top of his voice to sound through the orchestra [in the Szymanowski]....His singing [of Siegfried] was spirited and the interpretation in the character of the part." (Downes,  p. 26) [performance of 16 Dec.]

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior bore himself bravely in the face of alarming difficulties, but without question was glad when later he was occupied with Wagner's forging music, which was made to sing" (W. J. Henderson,  p. 35) [perf. of 16 Dec.]

New York Herald Tribune: "the solo tenor part with which poor Mr. Melchior was obliged to struggle in last evening's performance would wring tears from the Statue of Liberty....Mr. Melchior did his best last night to turn himself into a trumpet, with results uncomplimentary to that indispensable instrument and distressing to those who know how beautifully and expressively he can sing under happier circumstances" (Lawrence Gilman) [perf. of 16 Dec.]

Musical America, 25 December: "Heroically, unflinchingly, even a little desperately, Melchior pitted his most robust and sharpest edged tones against the Skriabinic orchestra, as thankless a task as any soloist is likely to be called upon to make.....Melchior had much better opportunity to display the mettle of his voice in the Siegfried excerpts....He gave this music a fiery intensity and a bright ring of tone." (Oscar Thompson, p. 22)

New York World: "Mr. Mengelberg, Mr. Melchior and the orchestra gave it [the Szymanowski] a magnificent performance" (Samuel Chotzinoff, p. 13) [perf. of 16 Dec.]

New York American: "The Szymanowski composition...is puerility itself. Melchoir [sic] sang the tenor part with enthusiasm and tones that were not without stridency at their highest." (Liebling, p. 7) [perf. of 17 Dec]

Brooklyn Eagle: "Mr. Melchior strove mightily to render intelligibly the text, but against the mad cruelty of Szymanowski's vocal writing he strove in vain" (Cushing, p. 10) [perf. of 16 Dec.]

New York Post: "We can give Mr. Melchior the benefit of the doubt that he made the most of the difficult and for me at least, ineffective tenor solo ["Song of the Night"]....In the Forge Songs...his singing was superb....His vocal emission seemed free-his voice had power and splendor-his feeling was heroic....His unusually fine performance last night aroused real enthusiasm." (Samaroff, p. 8) [perf. of 16 Dec.]

New York Telegram: "Lauritz Melchior...had the unmerciful job last evening of shouting an almost impossible vocal part with a rabid orchestra at his back....Mr. Melchior's voice sounded well in its medium range, but most of his upper tones he sang with much forcing and with a steely, palatal quality that portend no good" (H.F. Peyser, p. 7) [perf. of 16 Dec.]

Allgemeine Music Zeitung, 11 Feb 1927: "Lauritz Melchior sang the solo ["Song of the Night"] in a masterly manner" (Maurice Halperson, p. 127).

RETURN TO TOP
 

Mr. & Mrs. Lauritz Melchior in New York 1926 New Man,
New Woman,
New World:

Lauritz Melchior in New York around the time of his 1926 debut at the Metropolitan Opera
 



1927
[The release this year of the first feature-length movie with sound sequences, The Jazz Singer, marks the beginning of the movie musical; during the next decade, many opera singers (but not Melchior) will make musicals and/or musical "shorts," for example, Gigli, Tauber, Schipa, McCormack, Tibbett, Pons, and Moore.]

 

25 January 1927
  • Recital: Aeolian Hall, New York City. Melchior sings songs by Schubert, and songs in the Scandinavian tongues and in English, including those by Børresen, Jordan, Hallen, Weyse, Jarnefeldt, Hannikainen, Merikanto, Kilpinen, Sibelius, Griffes, Ireland, and Craxton, Meistersinger "Preisleid", and, among his encores, "Zueignung" by Richard Strauss.

New York Times: "An unusually valuable program....The manly and beautiful voice of Mr. Melchior, his knowledge of Scandinavian and other tongues, and his sincerity of spirit made interpretations convincing and emotionally contagious. He seemed to be in especially good voice and to have excellent control of his organ.  Seldom in opera house or concert hall has he done himself so much justice in late months.  He sang a number of encores....The audience was long in leaving the hall" (p. 16).

New York Herald-Tribune: "Lauritz Melchior...gave a recital last evening...before a large and enthusiastic house.  Mr. Melchior was in exuberant spirits and somewhat too lusty voice for the average number on his program, but for his Schubert group he exercised a beneficent restraint....It is only when he reduces his tones to that melting, hushed quality compatible with the more delicate sentiments that we find real music there. At other times there are fire, color, light and power, all admirable attributes in a singer, but not to be exchanged for tunefulness."

New York American: "Lauritz Melchior...was heard by a capacity crowd....His voice is of unusual beauty, with clear and pleasing top notes and a low register that is fluent and robust. With this equipment, supported by musicianly judgment and intelligence, it was no great effort for him to meet the demands of his program and to receive enthusiastic appreciation from his hearers."

New York Sun: "[Melchior] delivered [his songs] with picturesque and vivid style....Mr. Melchior made a marked impression upon the large audience" (p.21)

New York Post: "As he did last winter, Mr. Melchior showed himself a good program maker, though only one possessed of the physique of the singer, whose appearance alone would endear him to a Nordic, would have ventured to open his evening with the Danish song "Ujarak's Leaving," which requires forte almost throughout....The large audience, many of whom understood the Danish and Finnish songs, rapturously applauded the singer. The song that received the most applause was "A Queen and Her Knight"...though the only one the singer saw fit to repeat was "Doves' Voices"....Of unquestioned ability as an artist, it was pleasing to note Mr. Melchior has improved in his English during the year here. His diction was fine, and he sang two encores [in English]" (A.C.B., p. 13)

Musical America: "His operatic achievements at Bayreuth and Covent Garden, and recently at the Metropolitan, had won praise for the lyric fervor and expressive delineation of his style....His recital performance excelled in moments when he created a mood. Such was the case in his rendering of "Am Meer" by Schubert, "Dove's Voices" by Merikanto, and "Evening" by Kilpinen, among other songs.  His voice...still retains something of [a baritonal] timbre.  It is warmly resonant, though not always as free in its production in higher passages as might be wished, and most pleasing when utilized for cantabile singing in the medium voice.  Schubert's "Serenade" was not a wise choice, as the singer gave a rapid, declamatory quality to its essentially lyric measures. There were intensity and dramatic quality in the projection of Schubert's "Atlas" and "The Eternal'" (R.M.K., February 5, 1927, p. 25)

Musical Courier: "The Preisleid from Die Meistersinger...had better been left off since his voice, tired from the long program that preceded it, failed to respond to the demands put upon it in the high register. Mr. Melchior's first mistake was to begin with the Börresen song, which called upon him to sing long and loud in his upper register so that there were no new tricks for the rest of the program. Melchior's is a fine voice, robust, strong, serviceable, and decidedly warm and agreeable when he sings quietly. He showed real feeling for the German lied in the Schubert group....He is a fine figure on the stage and has a stage manner that at once ingratiates him with his audience." (February 3, 1927, p. 20)

8 February 1927
  • Recording session, Brunswick records, New York; songs, including "Isobel" by Frank Bridge
11 February 1927
  • RADIO: Lauritz Melchior and Karin Branzell give a recital over WJZ and other radio stations from New York. The program is broadcast nationally. [Melchior's US radio debut??]
14 February 1927
  • Concert: Manhattan's Town Hall with Beethoven Association. Melchior's program consists of eight lieder, four each by Schubert and Hugo Wolf.

New York Herald Tribune: "He sang [the Schubert] with a rather disconcerting mixture of finely expressive tone and piercing harshness. But Mr. Melchior is always intelligent, and his musical taste is dependable. When he does not force his voice he is capable of bestowing true pleasure."

New York Times:  "He used his mezza-voce to advantage in the "Serenade" and "Am Meer," producing subtle gradations of vocal color. He permitted his voice a greater range of sound in a heroic interpretation of "The Eternal." In "Der Atlas," the singer, with the intention of lending breadth to his conception of the "World-Bearer," forced some of his tones." (p. 23)

New York World: "Mr. Melchior sang ["not the most imposing" selection of Wolf songs] with a full understanding of their contents and managed especially in "Ein Standchen" to communicate the humorous conceit of the text. In "Er ist's" the Danish tenor committed the so-called Italian sin of holding on to a high note until his breath held out" (Chotzinoff, p. 13)

Musical America: "Mr. Melchior['s] voice seemed below its par of clarity....Despite some huskiness, his mezzo-voce was expressive in "Am Meer" and "Ständchen,"  and he produced vigorous clarion tones in "Dem Unendlichen" and "Der Atlas"....His [Wolf] readings were tasteful and engaging." (B.L.D.,February 26, 1927)

Musical Courier: "Mr. Melchior's voice is most appealing, especially in its modulated passages, when its utterance is beautifully vibrant and mellow.  He brought several of the songs to a hightly dramatic conclusion which evoked much applause." (February 24, 1927, p.8)

New York American: "[The] songs by Schubert and Wolf [were] delivered with fine regard for their musical and emotional content." (Liebling, p. 12)

18 February 1927
  • Met Opera: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, Ludikar, Bohnen, Mueller, Larsen-Todsen, Branzell.
Musical America: "Lauritz Melchior, a singer with an imaginative mind, was a new Siegmund in "Die Walküre"....New in more ways than one, was Mr. Melchior's interpretation of the role, for this artist is nothing if not original, even though his originality is ever curbed by an active sense of the vocal and dramatic fitness of things.  Vocally, Mr. Melchior set in his happiest moments a standard he did not always maintain; but though tone might lack in some measures a luster it had at other times, the meaning of both words and music was emphasized with a sure touch and by means of a variety of color.  In acting, Mr. Melchior brought out points with commendable economy, as in the exacting Narrative in the first act, made all the more impressive by reason of the comparative restraint with which it was delivered.  Minor details as well such as Siegmund's impulsive caress of Sieglinde's hair in the Love Duet, aided in lifting the character out of the mechanical rut where it is too often found, and in keeping it freshly virile." (D.B., Feb 26, 1927, p. 30)

Musical Courier: "Siegmund (Melchior) and Sieglinde (Mueller)[,] singing and acting with special gusto[,]...were called before the curtain six times" (February 24, p. 27)
24/25 February 1927
  • Concert: Melchior sings with NY Philharmonic. (??)
[3 March 1927-Lauritz Melchior's brother, Henrik Emil Melchior, 46, dies today in Copenhagen, Denmark.]
7, 8 March 1927
  • Recording sessions, Brunswick Records, New York: "Come, Friend" by Graham Peel, "Dolorosa" from a song cycle by Adolf Jensen- recordings which were made and then cancelled before release, as well as another try at "Isobel" by Frank Bridge, and Rachmaninov's "O Cease thy Singing, Maiden fair."
ca. March 1927-This spring, Melchior is "studying daily" with New York voice teacher Sergei Klibansky

8 April 1927
  • Recording session, Brunswick Records, New York: "Minneleid," Schubert's "Am Meer," Meistersinger "Preisleid."
14 April 1927
  • Recording session, Brunswick Records, New York: Schubert lieder.
15 April 1927
  • Met Opera: Parsifal. Bodanzky. Melchior, Bohnen, Whitehill, Schuetzendorf, Gustafson, Larsen-Todsen. Melchior's second of two performances at the Met this year. During this time period, there are apparently abridgements in Kundry's monologues in Act II.

New York Telegram: "With the exception of that stopped and nasal quality in his upper tones...he sang better than at other times this year...and [excepting Melchior's largeness of physique] his impersonation is intelligently and convincingly planned" (Peyser, p. 12) (The reviewer notes that during the third act, a standee "caused a brief commotion by loudly berating Wagner for transgressions against Holy Writ" !)

New York Times:  "Mr. Melchior's Parsifal...has the stamp of authoritative and experienced interpretation." (p. 13)

Musical Courier: "The largest audience which has ever assembled at the Metropolitan to hear this opera since the first performance over twenty years ago....Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal was in fine voice and gave an authoritative performance" (April 21, 1927, p. 34)

New York Sun (p. 7): "Mr. Melchior was a large, stalwart and robust looking Parsifal...to his general impersonation the singer imparted a fine manly strength and just conception of the part...powerful, interesting, and frequently poetic."


 

From US to England

 

6 May 1927
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Bruno Walter. Melchior, Allin, Schorr, Lehmann, Leider, Onegin.
Guardian: "The Siegmund of Lauritz Melchior has now become a very beautiful piece of work in spite of the occasional piercing quality of his voice an a certain suggestion of stage managerial drill about his deportment. He certainly contributed much to the fine effect of the first act" (E.B., p. 21)

Observer: "Mr. Melchior's singing and acting, and what is so much more, the two in combination, have made great strides. [with Act II being particularly memorable]. (Fox-Strangways, p. 21)
9 May 1927
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Walter. Melchior, Reiss, Schorr, Habich, Helgers, Arkandy, Olszewska, Leider

Times: "Herr Melchior deserves thanks for a robust and at the same time musical treatment of the very exacting part of Siegfried, though he was more satisfying in the forging songs than in the subtle moment when at last the young hero knows fear. He seemed rather too much given to strolling about aimlessly to give quite the right stage effect in the second act" (p. 14).

Guardian: "The lyrical music in the second act does not suit his voice, which in anything under mezzo-forte is apt to sound toneless and dull [the words lose color and are not "incisive"]....Where Mr. Melchior could let his powerful voice loose without restraint he was highly effective" (E.B., p. 14)

17 May 1927
  • Covent Garden: Parsifal. Robert Heger. Melchior, Mayr, Janssen, Habich, --, Ljungberg

Times: "It was from the [second act] onward...that the qualities of Herr Melchior began to make themselves felt. In the first act he had suggested little beyond the lumpish unawakened boy. Though never the ideal Parsifal, he had fine moments both in the passionate protests of the scene with Kundry and the quiet reflections in the midst of the Good Friday music of the last act" (p. 14).

Observer (May 22): "Mr. Melchior, if he does not quite look the part of Parsifal, can sing it movingly, and act it adequately" (p. 11)

18 May 1927
  • Special Appearance: Lauritz Melchior, Maria Olszewska, Lotte Schöne, and Friedrich Schorr, accompanied by Dr. Franz Hallasch, sing at Princess Beatrice, Prince and Princess Arthur, and Princess Helena Victoria's soiree at 18 Belgrave Square, London  
23 May 1927
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Heger. Melchior, Allin, Schorr, Ljungberg, Larsén-Todsen, Onegin
24 May 1927
  • Special Appearance: Melchior and Selma d'Arco sing in the presence of Princess Marie Louise at Victor Beigel's Concert at 20 Portman Square, London.
25 May 1927
  • Covent Garden: Parsifal. See 17 May 1927.

 

To Germany

 

Summer or early Fall 1927
  • 1. Concert: Stettin. Allgemeine Musik Zeitung (16 Sept 1927) notes the season's Stettin concerts from male singers as "dominated by Lauritz Melchior and Richard Tauber chiefly on account of their splendid vocal equipment" (p.943).

2. Recital: Köln. Meyerbeer, Puccini, Wagner and lieder by Richard Trunk (the latter accompanied by the composer).

24 July-17 August 1927
  • BAYREUTH FESTIVAL 1927. This season, marked by the first postwar revival of Tristan und Isolde, features Melchior's Götterdämmerung debut and his first Siegfrieds at Bayreuth, in three Ring Cycles.
24 July 1927: Siegfried. Franz Von Hoesslin. Melchior, Elschner, Schorr [or Correck], Habich, Eckard, Holmgren, Liebenberg, Larsen-Todsen

26 July 1927
:
Götterdämmerung. Hoesslin. Melchior,Correck [or Hammes], Braun ,Habich, Larsen-Todsen, Ranzow [or Sendler], Sinnek.

3 August 1927
:
Siegfried. See 24 July.

5 August 1927
:
Götterdämmerung.  See 26 July.

15 August 1927
:
Siegfried. See 24 July.

17 August 1927
:
Götterdämmerung. See 26 July.

Reviews:

The Scotsman (8 August): "Lauritz Melchior sang the part [of Siegfried] no better than he did in London. He kept things going with his vigour, but he never for one moment in "Siegfried" or "Götterdämmerung," made me realize that he understood the poetry of the part....he was none too sure of some of the details. Although he has a fine voice, he is no great master of nuance of tone or subtlety of phrasing." (p. 6)

"A new and mighty personage enters with Siegfried in the person of Lauritz Melchoir [sic], whose performance was an all-round artistic piece of  work. Though physically a little too rotund and mature to suggest a young Siegfried, he succeeded, by his superior acting, in greatly offsetting this natural handicap. Musically, his art is well ripened, and vocally, though he proceeds with wise economy and uses the mezzo-voce a good deal, he is able to reach and maintain glorious heights. The scene of the forging of the sword was of striking vocal beauty and power....The [Siegfried] duet between Siegfried and Brunnhilde formed another high spot of the entire festival and, in its exuberance and display of magnificent voices, brought the audience to its feet....Melchior's [Götterdämmerung] Siegfried was dramatically even more effective than the [Siegfried Siegfried], as his stature was more in harmony with the matured Siegfried of "Gotterdammerung." His great scene and death during the third act were unforgettable moments of a great and mature art....The scene of Siegfried with the Rhine daughters, too, was of great charm and excellently sung."  Dallas Morning News, Paul van Katwijk, August 21, 1927

23 August 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre. This is Melchior's first season with the Hamburg Staatsoper. His colleagues this season are Bockelmann, Josef Degler, Helena Falk, Josef Groenen, Julius Gutmann, Erna Homman, Maria Hussa, Sabine Kalter, Peter Kreuder, Emmy Land [later Land-Wolff], Rudolf Lazar, Hermann Marowski, Anny Muenchow, Hans Reinmar, Olga Schramm-Tschoerner, Paul Schwartz, Frida Singler, Emmy Streng, Paula Urbaczek, Julius Von Scheidt. Lehmann, Hofmann, and Larsen-Todsen appear for guest performances. Conductors are Pollak, Wolff, Gotthardt, and Freund.

On the stage of the Hamburg Opera, Melchior will debut in four roles over the next two opera seasons: Lohengrin, Radames, Otello and Jean of Leyden. [Note: it is currently under investigation whether he may have already sung the role of Radames; in any case, it would not have been in Germany]

Melchior later reminisced that "the manager [of the Hamburg Opera] Leopold Sachse and [house conductor] Egon Pollak...took to me like fathers...and helped me in every way" (Jerrild, p. 530).

3 September 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
7 September 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre
9, 15 September 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
18 September 1927
  • Lübeck, Germany: Siegfried.
23 September 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
25, 29 September 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci. Final performance of Turridu.
2 October 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
17 October 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
21 October 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
22 October 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Pagliacci
24 October 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre
31 October 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin DEBUT
2 November 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
6 November 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
14 November 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre
19 November 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
24 November 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
3 December 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
9 December 1927
  • Bremerhaven, Germany: Siegfried.
16 December 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
26 December 1927
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin


 
RETURN TO TOP

 


1928

 

1 January 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
6 January 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung
8 January 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
12 January 1928
  • Bremen, Germany: Lohengrin
16 January 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
21 January 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung
30 January 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida DEBUT [?]
2 February 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
4 February 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Pagliacci
9 February 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
17 February 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
21 February 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
22 February 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung
26 February 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
1 March 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Pagliacci
4 March 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
8 March 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung
25 March 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
26 March 1928
  • Bremerhaven: Opera.
2 April 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
7 April 1928
  • Kiel: Aida
10 April 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
18 April 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung
26 April 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
28 April 1928
  • Leipzig: Tannhäuser

 

From Germany to England

 

2 May 1928
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Bruno Walter. Melchior, Helgers, Rode, Lehmann, Elisabeth Ohms, Olszewska (Radio: Act II is broadcast)

Times: "Herr Melchior has improved both in finish and in note accuracy, and his Siegmund, if not always vocally ideal, is now as fine as we can expect to hear in a world where perfect tenors are unknown" (p.14.)

Guardian: "Lauritz Melchior is now a most admirable Siegmund though one still feels his excellence to be due to thorough training and hard work rather than to inborn genius. He remains, even at his best, just a little inflexible both vocally and in his stage deportment." (E.B. p. 14)

Observer (May 6): "An example of excellent singing, especially when he let his voice ring out. At certain moments, when he seemed to wish to portray the strong man mastering emotion, his voice took on a reedy quality and lost its carrying power" (p. 15)

7 May 1928
  • Covent Garden: Tannhäuser. Robert Heger. Melchior, Janssen, Andrésen, Leider, Ljungberg

Observer (May 13): Melchior's "shouting" was "at times beyond endurance" but he was pleasing in Act III because "he sings chiefly sotto voce" (Fox-Strangways, p. 15)

Times: "Melchior rose to unexpected heights in his performance. His voice seems to have developed since he was last heard here...he has gained in sympathy and variety of expression...he made his audience feel the character alive and something big, which the well-intentioned Landgrave and his Court could not be expected to understand." (p. 14.)

(RADIO: ACT I was BROADCAST)

 

From England to Germany

 

10 May 1928
  • Kiel, Germany: Lohengrin

 

From Germany to England

 

14 May 1928
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Bruno Walter. Melchior, Andrésen, Schipper, Ljungberg, Leider, Olszewska.

Times: "Siegmund was again last night in the hands of Herr Lauritz Melchior, who undoubtedly excels in the part....It is the great merit of Herr Melchior's Siegmund that [in Act I] he...builds up the emotion very gradually, and when these two artists [Melchior and Ljungberg] play together the note of tragedy, "the Walsung woe," is sounded at once and brought through the joy of the love-music to the poignancy of the catastrophe" (p. 14).

16 May 1928
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Robert Heger. Melchior, Reiss, Nissen, Helgers, Madin, Blackwell, Olszewska, Leider.

Times: "The outstanding feature of the performance was Herr Melchior's singing, which was vital from beginning to end. He did not spare himself, as many do, in the first act, yet his voice rang out as freshly as ever in the duet with Brünnhilde.  The lyric passages in Act II were sung with a quiet charm and a realization of the beauty of the phrases which is all too rare in the Wagnerian hero.  Herr Melchior's acting of the part, as opposed to his dramatic use of his voice, was not always very finished.  His attempt to portray Siegfried's boyish humours was too evidently self-conscious, and though at times he managed to convey the youth's wonderment at his discoveries, he was often content to remain passive and allow things to happen to him" (p. 14).

 

From England to Germany

 

31 May, 6, 12 June 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello. Wolff. Melchior, Hussa, Reinmar. Director: Sachse. Sets/Costumes: Davidson. (new production)
19, 20 June 1928
  • Recording Sessions, HMV Berlin: recordings of Walküre, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin excerpts with soprano Genia Guszalewicz as Sieglinde, Leo Blech conducting Berlin Staatsoper. These are his first recordings for His Master's Voice, the premiere record label.
July & August 1928
  • Bayreuth Festival: Melchior returns to the role of Siegfried in the Festival's three Ring Cycles, the conducting of which is shared between Franz von Hoesslin and Siegfried Wagner.
Siegfried: Hoesslin/S. Wagner. Melchior, Elschner, Correck/Schorr, Habich, Eckard, Heidersbach, Liebenberg, Larsen-Todsen/Leider

Götterdämmerung: Hoesslin/S. Wagner. Melchior, Bockelmann/ Correck, Braun, Habich, Larsen-Todsen/Leider, Ranzow, Sinnek

Reviews:

"Melchior...is providing the Bayreuth festival with a fine Siegfried....It is the best performance of a Wagnerian tenor role that I have seen.  He has a beautiful voice, and he is an imaginative actor....[employing] pealing high notes, fiery declamation, light patter and lyrical fervor....Melchior's voice sounded quite as fresh as that of Nanny Larsen-Todsen [during their Act III scene together.]" (Los Angeles Herald Examiner(?), Patterson Greene)

24 July 1928
  • Bayreuth Festival: Siegfried
26 July 1928
  • Bayreuth Festival: Götterdämmerung
3 August 1928
  • Bayreuth Festival: Siegfried
5 August 1928
  • Bayreuth Festival: Götterdämmerung
14 August 1928
  • Bayreuth Festival: Siegfried
16 August 1928
  • Bayreuth Festival: Götterdämmerung
20 August 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello. Colleages at Hamburg this season are Rose Ader, Bockelmann, Degler, Falk, Martha Geister, Dusolina Giannini, Groenen, Gutmann, Homann, Hussa, Kalter, Kreuder, Land, Leider, Marowski, Liane Martinu, Aida Montes, Muenchow, Reinmar, Schwartz, Streng, and Urbaczek. Lehmann appears for one guest performance. Conductors are Wolff, Gotthardt, Pollak and Jelenko.
25 August 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper:Tannhäuser
26 August 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Pagliacci
31 August 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
9 September 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
11 September 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello. Wolff. Melchior, Ader, Reinmar.
(unknown paper, probably reviewing this performance): "The tenor's molten cantilena enhanced his portrayal of the fanatically jealous character"
12 September 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Pagliacci
19 September 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
25 September 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper:Tannhäuser
29 September 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello
5 October 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
9 October 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre
11 October 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
13 October 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung
21 October 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
3 November 1928
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre (probably: Blech. Melchior, List, Schorr, Kemp, Leider, Branzell). New Production by Emil Pirchan, Hörth
4 November 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
5 November 1928
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
6 November 1928
  • Bremen, Germany: Aida
11 November 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
14 November 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
16 November 1928
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
18 November 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
21 November 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello
26 November 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
30 November 1928
  • Bremerhaven, Germany: Otello
3 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello.
5 December 1928
  • Bremen, Germany:  Tannhäuser
7 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
9 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
11 December 1928
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Pagliacci
12 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre
15 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
20 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Le Prophete. DEBUT
23 December 1928
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Aida.
25 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
27, 30 December 1928
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Le Prophete.
[1928-1929 season]
  • Concerts/recitals: in Germany, including Chemnitz (twice), Stuttgart, Magdeburg, Wiesbaden, Bremen.

RETURN TO TOP
 



1929

 

4 January 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello.

 

To Spain

 

Schipper, Lehmann, Helgers, Walter, Andresen, Leider, Janssen, Olczewska, Melchior A 'Winning' Team:

The "stock company" for Wagner at London's Royal Opera during the 1920's included, from left to right, baritone Emil Schipper, soprano Lotte Lehmann, bass Otto Helgers, conductor Bruno Walter, bass Ivar Andrésen, soprano Frida Leider, baritone Herbert Janssen, contralto Maria Olszewska, and Lauritz Melchior.

RETURN TO TOP Return to Chronology, 1924-1926 Onwards to Chronology, 1929-1931
 

Would you please help make this website as complete-and accurate-as possible a resource?

I am avidly seeking information to use on this site, in ANY language. Please also contact me if you ever saw/heard Lauritz Melchior in person!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!


Information to share? Questions? Suggestions? Write me at ringedwithfire@heroictenor.com using Melchior's name in the subject line of the email
Copyright © 2005 Victoria Boutilier, All Rights Reserved
Last Updated October 15 2005