Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal

Lauritz Melchior Web



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

Performance Chronologies:

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

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

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


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.

Some Highlights:
First Tristan (Barcelona, 1929)--First performances in Paris (1929 German-language Ring Cycles, 1930 Paris Opera guest)----Continued performances with Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Berlin & Hamburg State Operas--Return (as guest) to Royal Theatre, Copenhagen--
Final two seasons at Bayreuther Festspiele (1930, 1931)


January-February 1929
  • Teatro Liceo, Barcelona: Melchior makes his Tristan debut (February 1?), and also sings Tannhäuser. Von Schillings is the conductor.


From Spain to Germany


16 February 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
18 February 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Le Prophete


From Germany to the United States


20-26 February 1929-Melchior sails on the Aquitania from Cherbourg to New York  
28 February 1929
  • Met Opera: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, Gustafson, Schorr, Stueckgold, Kappel, Branzell

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior...was warmly welcomed in an interpretation which is familiar." (p. 29)

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior, who is equipped with Baireuth traditions, sang his music with admirable understanding of color and phrase, and without much romantic aspect of figure or face, he was, nevertheless, at all times well in the artistic picture." (p. 21)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior's bulk is [a] handicap to illusion....His singing yesterday was not such as to indicate that he had returned with his voice in its best condition. It was alternately hard and husky, with an excess of power in very loud tones, a lack of resonance in others." (Thompson, p. 13)

New York Telegram: "[The scene of a fat man in animal hides was comical and unaesthetic] and [Melchior's] voice, save when he catapulted some loud top tones...sounded either like nothing at all or like the unwieldy remnants of a dour and husky baritone." (Peyser, p. 2)

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior brings the best of our Heldentenor voices back to this stage, and this, plus his intelligent and spirited characterization, do much to mitigate a somewhat too well nourished appearance." (M.W., p. 14)

New York World: "One could wish that Lauritz Melchior...might be induced to tarry for subsequent delineations of the Wagnerian hero.  As Siegmund yesterday, he looked and sang in a manner most soothing to eyes and ears" (p. 13)

New York American: "Mr. Melchior sang the music of Siegmund with compelling charm, rare lyric quality and meaningful sentiment. His tones, after a nervous beginning were ravishingly lovely and given with firmness, while his phrasing was amazingly broad and effective." (Bennett, p. 6S, Final Edition)

5 March 1929
  • Met Opera tour to Philadelphia: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Schorr, Bohnen, Kappel, Branzell. This is Melchior's first performance of Tristan in the United States.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "[Melchior] gave an electrifying performance of Siegmund here several seasons ago, and also made a remarkable "Parsifal" in New York shortly afterward. But his appearances here have been sharply limited, and his Tristan last night was distinctly in the nature of a novelty. It was doubly a novelty, for he presented Tristan as the man of mature emotions indicated in Wagner's epic poem, not the romantic gallant of many an impersonation. Vocally he displayed the dark and sombre hue of the baritone, not the typical tenor timbre....Mr. Melchior gave no dazzling display of superficial singing; but he did drench the part with exquisite artistry and originality of idea, and the variant was refreshing and unusual" (Linton Martin, p. 2)

14 March 1929
  • Met Opera: Götterdämmerung. (Melchior's first in the US). Bodanzky. Melchior, Schorr, Bohnen, Schuetzendorf, Kappel, Branzell, Mueller. The production uses Hans Kautsky's sets. Wymetal is stage director.

New York Times: "His singing raised certain critical reservations, in spite of marked excellences, and staying power which resulted in a good clear high C in the concluding act." (p. 21)

New York Herald Tribune: "One liked [Melchior] yesterday for several things-first, because his voice is easily the best of the Metropolitan's current trio of Helden-tenors.  He is the only one of them who can sing such a passage as Siegfried's half-whispered pledge to Brünnhilde in the potion scene of the First Act, "Vergäse ich alles, was du mir Gabst," and convey the pathos of its dramatic significance through beautiful singing.  He is not one of the megalophonous clan of Wagner tenors who at present infest the stage-indeed, he could not quite summon quite enough tone yesterday to carry his voice through the surge and thunder of the orchestra....But it was a pleasure once again to hear Wagner's music projected in tones that did not wound the ear-to hear it sung, and not barked with metallic, intolerable hardness, or merely shouted and declaimed.  It is possible that Mr. Melchior, despite his Bayreuth training [his debut in this role last year], has not yet worked out to his own satisfaction all the problems of dramatic and musical coordination that the role presents. For example, at yesterday's performance we heard from the orchestra in Siegfried's first scene with Gutrune, the burning phrase which which the music suggests the suddenly aroused passion of the bemused hero, before Siegfried had turned his gaze upon the inflammatory maiden....Mr. Melchior's acting at other points indicated an impersonation in the making....and....his Siegfried would be more persuasive if he should consider...the matter of its visual address. Yesterday's impersonator suggested that this Siegfried on honey-dew had fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise before his time. Nevertheless, we repeat that Mr. Melchior's Elder Siegfried is one of the best that the Metropolitan has given us in recent years.  We await with interest his Tristan...."(Lawrence Gilman)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior sang more consistently than in "Walkure," [sic] though his voice again manifested a tendency to lose resonance when power was diminished....Worthy of note was Mr. Melchior's conscientious effort to suggest Gunther (or at least not identify himself as Siegfried) when he emerged on the rock in Gunther's stead [but the costume did not match what Gunther was wearing(!)]" (Thompson, p. 15)

New York Telegram: "[Melchior's] upper tones were once more hard as flint and invariably emitted with a rigid suppression of all nasal resonance....[He was] a somewhat more enlivening Volsung than has lately been the rule here. He climbed Bruennhilde's fire-girt rock reasonably disguised and colored his voice as the directions prescribe. But Siegfrieds at the Festspielhaus do not stand up and carry on unsupported by helping hands after receiving the death thrust, as Mr. Melchior did yesterday" (Peyser, p. 10)

New York American: "Lauritz Melchior is one of the few German tenors with a dramatic voice that also expresses lyricism. He sang intelligently, and his acting revealed heroic fervor. It is a pity, however, that Melchior does not put more of ruggedness into his facial makeup, which looks decidedly cherubic for such a doughty warrior and exponent of the outdoor life." (L. Liebling, p. S5, Final Edition)

20 March 1929
  • Met Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodansky. Melchior (first performance of Tristan at the Met), Whitehill, Bohnen,  Kappel, Claussen. The Met's Tristan sets are Joseph Urban's; Thewman is stage director. 

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior was at his best in the opening act....The third act tried him severely....A very large audience attended this performance." (Downes,p.29)

New York Telegram: "The ponderous hero he set before us looked more like a beefeater-in-chief than an amorous Cornish knight...Mr. Melchior's voice...fell somewhat hoarsely on the ear. Evidently he took great pains with his diction, and sometimes his phrasing was musically and rhetorically satisfying.  In Act II, he did better with [the "O Koenig" scene] than he had done with the preceding love scene" (Sanborn, p. 12)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior had plenty of voice for climactic moments and precious little for any others.  Except when power was applied, he was husky, his tone unfocused and devitalized" (Thompson, p. 19)

New York World: "A Tristan at last...Mr. Melchior...[has previously] given us other Wagnerian heroes in a fashion adequate but not exciting....[His entrance in Act I was perfectly timed]....Mr. Melchior's very first gesture was revolutionary-he bowed to Isolde [unlike any other tenor I can remember at the Metropolitan]....What was more, Mr. Melchior proceeded to exhibit a Tristan that was neither an innocent nor a boor but a red-blooded, well-bred, intelligent person who quickly realized just what he was up against when Isolde chose to use the cup instead of the sword.  Better still, the new Tristan sang continently, avoiding the time-honored strangulated vocal emission of tradition. His singing had, in fact, a manly vibrato that ws a relief from the usual tenorial bleatings, and it suited the text to an illuminating degree. In the second-act duet Mr. Melchior had sense enough to employ falsetto, a method which Wagner tenors avoid like poison.  This made the "O sink hernieder" the poetic thing it is on paper, but unfortunately Mme. Kappel failed to follow his lead, and the duet proved a one-sided affair. Mr. Melchior's last act was even better than his second and his Tristan died, as he had loved, sincerely and artistically....The afternoon was distinctly Mr. Melchior's. (Chotzinoff, p. 13)

New York Herald Tribune: "Lauritz Melchior's performance [is] a notable event...we cannot recall a Tristan since the dim days before the war who has sung the music so well as Mr. Melchior did yesterday. A good deal of it he sang more than well. There was often beauty of tone, beauty of phrasing, beauty and a delicate truth of sentiment, in Mr. Melchior's singing-especially in the quieter passages of the love duo....In the Vision scene of the Third Act, Mr. Melchior's "Siehst du sie? Siehst du sie noch nicht?" was of rare tonal loveliness-even more poetic in timbre and texture than the tone-color achieved by the horn quartet in the succeeding cantilena...Mr. Melchior's medium register is especially responsive; and when the music's tessitura favors him, and he can sing mezza voce, the results are grateful....Mr. Melchior did not yell...He treated the great fortissimo outbursts of his part as Wagner expressly said that he wished them treated; that is to say, he sang the notes; he did not shout or declaim them....Even the desperate and terrible "Verflucht, wer dich gebrauht" which few Tristans can resist the temptation to deliver parlando, was really sung; one heard, wonder of wonders, the F, the D flat, the C and the octave F. This is scarcely to say that Mr. Melchior has nothing to learn as a Tristan singer. But the point is...that he delivered the music of the role...with a sensitive perception of its shape, its hue, its symmetry, and he did this without depriving the music of its expressional significance. The song was packed with meaning-even exceptionally so; we do not recall that any recent Tristan has voiced the hysterical despair of his "Verloren!" in the scene of the arriving ship as Mr. Melchior did yesterday. No doubt Mr. Melchior will convey to us more of the complexity and subtlety of the part as he continues to live with it (he made his first appearance in the role only two months ago, at Barcelona). In action he is still a bit immobile, and he turned the necessary reserve of his first scene with Isolde almost into apathy. The sense of tension was insufficiently conveyed. In aspect the new Tristan is surprisingly personable.  His generous size is turned shrewdly to account. The face is bearded-acquires gravity and a hint of epic romance.  The costuming is felicitous....A welcome Tristan. We salute him, and wish him many happy returns" (Gilman, p. 22)

26 March 1929
  • Met Opera in Philadelphia: Parsifal. Bodanzky. Melchior, Bohnen, Schuetzendorf, Gabor, Gustafson, Kappel
5 April 1929
  • Met Opera: Siegfried. Serafin. Melchior, Bloch, Whitehill, Schuetzendorf, Gustafson, Fleischer, Branzell, Rakowska
New York Telegram: "He lavished upon the the representation such an amount of mugging and preposterous burlesque" (Peyser, p. 24)

New York World: "It was good to hear Lauritz Melchior sing in Siegfried at the Metropolitan last night" (Julian Seaman, p. 13)
14 April 1929
  • Concert, Met Opera: Melchior sings the "Prize Song" and Siegfried's "Forge Songs" this evening, conducted by Bamboschek.

From the United States to England

[18 April 1929-Lauritz Melchior's ex-wife Inger Melchior, the mother of his two children, dies today in Fredricksborg, Denmark.]  
26 April 1929
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Bruno Walter. Melchior, Kipnis, Schorr, Lehmann, Leider, Anday.

Times: "Herr Melchior contributed admirable work" (p. 10).

Sunday Times (April 28): Melchior's singing was notable for its "rough honesty" (Newman, p. 7)

Guardian: "Both his acting and his singing had something of a new suppleness about it" (E.B., p 8)

30 April 1929
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Walter. Melchior, Reiss, Bockelmann, Habich, William Anderson, Nora Grühn, Anday, Ohms

Times: "Herr most to be thanked for fresh and unaffected singing and a genial delineation of the part of the young Siegfried" (p. 14).

Sunday Times (May 5): "extraordinarily attractive, especially in the first two acts. It cannot be easy for a man of his bulk to reproduce convincingly the tantrums of the rather brainless boy that Siegfried is in the first act; but Mr. Melchior carried them off surprisingly well....One forgot his bulk in the genuine poetry of his reading of the part, and I particularly liked the half-conversational tone in which he delivered some of his lines, without for a moment depriving them of their essentially musical quality. In the third act he was more conventional and less convincing." (Newman, p. 7)

Guardian: [Melchior's performance seemed awkward in every way and his style was a poor match for Ohms] (E.B. p. 6)

3 May 1929
  • Covent Garden: Götterdämmerung. Walter. Melchior, Janssen, Kipnis, Habich, Leider, Olszewska, Reinhardt. Melchior's first in London.

Times: "Melchior's Siegfried was manly and musical throughout" (p. 10).

Guardian: "He made an excellent first impression in the part. His costume, however, was unfortunate" (E.B., p. 18)

6 May 1929
  • Recording Session: HMV, London, duet from Tristan und Isolde with Frida Leider, and Albert Coates conducting the LSO.
7 May 1929
  • Covent Garden: Tristan und Isolde. Robert Heger. Melchior, Janssen, Bertram?, Leider, Anday. Covent Garden debut of role.
9 May 1929
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Heger. Melchior, Kipnis, Domgraf-Fassbaender?, Meta Seinemeyer, Leider, Olszewska.
13 May 1929
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Robert Heger. Melchior, Reiss, Schorr, Madin, Anderson, Grühn, Anday, Ohms.
15 May 1929
  • Covent Garden: Götterdämmerung. Robert Heger. Melchior, Janssen, Andrésen, Madin, Ohms, Olszewska, Licette
16,17 May 1929
  • Recording Session, HMV, Queens Hall, London. Melchior makes recordings of Siegfried excerpts with Albert Reiss and Nora Grühn, Albert Coates conducting.
17 May 1929
  • Special Appearance, Danish Legation, London: Melchior sings Danish songs in the presence of English Princesses Marie-Louise and Helena Victoria.
21 May 1929
  • Special Appearance, Savoy Hotel, London: Melchior, Wolff, and Andresen perform at a Musicians' Benevolent Fund charity concert late this evening, part of which is broadcast on the RADIO.
22 May 1929
  • Recording Session: Siegfried and Tannhäuser excerpts for HMV at Queens Hall with Rudolf Bockelmann and conductor Albert Coates.
23 May 1929
  • Covent Garden: Götterdämmerung. Heger. Melchior, Janssen, Andrésen, Madin, Ohms, Olszewska, --


From England to Germany


28 May 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Le Prophete
30 May 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello
3 June 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre. Blech. Melchior, List, Schorr, Mueller, Leider, Kindermann
5 June 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried. Blech. Melchior, Gerhard Witting, Schorr, L. Schuetzendorf, --, Pfahl, --, Leider (the entire cycle appears to have been directed by Hörth with Pirchans' sets).
7 June 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung. Blech. Melchior, Schorr, List, Schuetzendorf?, Leider, Arndt-Ober, Mueller
9 June 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
11 June 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried
13 June 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
15 June 1929
  • Recording session: HMV, Berlin. Wagner excerpts. With Schorr. Blech conducts Berlin Staatsoper
18 June 1929
  • Berlin Städtische Oper: Tristan und Isolde. Furtwängler. Melchior, Schorr, Kipnis, Leider, Onegin


From Germany to France


21 June 1929
  • Paris, Théatre des Champs-Élysées: Walküre. Part of the first of two Ring Cycles conducted by Von Schillings using Walther Straram's orchestra, in which Melchior is Siegmund and Siegfried (excepting the younger Siegfried in the second cycle). Von Schillings. Melchior, Hofmann, Correck, Krueger, Larsén-Todsen, Onegin. Humperdinck is set designer of the productions, which are based on those of Bayreuth.
"Mr. Melchior is a magnificent Siegmund. Young, sculptural, blessed with an ardent and rich voice, he powerfully incarnated the doomed hero." (P-B Gheusi, Le Figaro, 23 June 1929, p. 5)
22 June 1929
  • Paris, Théatre des Champs-Élysées: Siegfried. Von Schillings. Melchior, Seydel, Correck, Gutmann, Weber, Schramm-Tschoerner, Klose, Larsén-Todsen.
"Mr. Melchior is an excellent interpreter of Siegfried. He has the youthfulness of his hero, his naive strength, a little rough, an ingenuousness of aspect and of spirit which Jean de Reszke realized by intensive study and which our Franz realizes with a natural sense of grandness. The role encourages Mr. Melchior almost to an excess of his wildness. This athlete, [Siegfried] hardly past adolescence, is not prepared to play his part. His voice, rude and virile when angry, has tender inflections when tarrying on his outdoor childhood, whenever filial love or a similar emotion of his senses, still innocent, disturbs the purity of his heroicness" (P-B Gheusi, Le Figaro, 26 June 1929, p. 5)
24 June 1929
  • Paris, Théatre des Champs-Élysées: Götterdämmerung. Von Schillings. Melchior, Paulus, Hofmann, Gutmann, Larsén-Todsen, Onegin, Schramm-Tschoerner
"Mr. Melchior reached, in his death scene, the heights he attained in "Siegfried." His singing and his heroic bearing, his powerful youthfulness, his unceasing attention to the action, earned the hearty applause and frequent bravos of his audience." (P-B Gheusi, Le Figaro, 26 June 1929, p. 5)
27 June 1929
  • Paris, Théatre des Champs-Élysées: Walküre. Von Schillings. Melchior, Hofmann, Rode, Krueger, Larsén-Todsen, Onegin.
30 June 1929
  • Paris, Théatre des Champs-Élysées: Götterdämmerung. See 24 June 1929.
"A voice superbly sonorous and a physique virtually predestined for the roles of Siegmund and Siegfried" (G. Samazeuihl, Revue Musicale, p. 150) [reporting on both cycles]


From France to Germany


5 July 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tristan und Isolde. Erich Kleiber. Melchior, Janssen, List, Leider, Branzell. F.L. Hörth, Aravantinos.
16(?) July 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung. Von Schillings.  (part of a new Ring staging by F.L. Hörth)
18 August 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Le Prophete. Colleagues at Hamburg this season are Bockelmann, Degler, Falk, Geister, Groenen, Homman, Hussa, Kalter, Kreuder, Land, Marowski, Montes, Munchow, Reinmar, Emmy Sack, Schwartz, and Von Scheidt. Conductors are Pollak, Gotthardt, Wolff, Freund and Brecher.
21 August 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tristan und Isolde
24 August 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
30 August 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello
2 September 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Pagliacci 
6 September 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Otello.
8 September 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
13 September 1929
  • Recording session: HMV, Berlin. Part of Act II, Tristan, with Leider. Coates conducts Berlin Staatsoper
15 September 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung.
18 September 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Otello
25, 29 September 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tannhäuser. Leo Blech. Melchior, Schlusnus, List, Branzell, Müller. (a new staging by Hörth, Aravantinos).
1 October 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
4 October 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
7 October 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
9 October 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre

From Germany to Spain

17-26 October 1929
  • Barcelona, Teatro del Liceo: Tannhäuser, Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung. Max von Schillings.

29 October 1929- "Black Tuesday": the stock market crash on Wall Street, New York City, effects a world-wide economic depression

From Spain to Germany

6 November 1929
  • Hannover: Aida
8 November 1929
  • Hannover: Tannhäuser.
9 November 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
14 November 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Lohengrin
18 November 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Le Prophete
20 November 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tristan und Isolde
25 November 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello
29 November 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tristan und Isolde
2 December 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
6 December 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried
8 December 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung.
14 December 1929
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
16 December 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Pagliacci
19 December 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
26 December 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
28 December 1929
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Tristan und Isolde
c. December? 1929
  • Recital, Paris, Théatre des Champs-Élysées: "Winterstürme" "In Fernem Land," lieder by Schumann, Schubert, Trunk, Wagner, & Strauss.





2 January 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
4 January 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Otello
[7 January 1930-Victor Beigel, Melchior's singing teacher, dies in Sussex, England]  


From Germany to Denmark


8 January 1930
  • Royal Danish Opera Copenhagen: Tristan und Isolde
12 January 1930
  • Royal Danish Opera Copenhagen: Walküre
14 January 1930
  • Royal Danish Opera Copenhagen: Tristan und Isolde
18 January 1930
  • Royal Danish Opera Copenhagen: Walküre


From Denmark to Germany


23 January 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre
27 January 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
30 January 1930
  • Bremen: Aida
2 February 1930
  • Hamburg: Aida
9 February 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung


From Germany to Denmark


February 1930
  • Recital(s): Copenhagen
16 February 1930
  • Copenhagen Royal Opera: Tristan und Isolde

"The prizes of January were Lauritz Melchior's guest performances. We are proud to call this redoubtable artist our countryman.  This singer forms his creations as the ideal heroes Wagner might have dreamed.  Dignified and stylish in appearance, expressive in his movements, his voice in its bloomy display provides the total combination of  note, word, and gesture that the poet-composer again and again emphasized. Melchior's Tristan marks an artistic acme. Admirable is the escalation, the progression from the determined taciturnity at the raising of the love-storm [in Act I] to the ecstasy of the fever scene, where his voice in its resonance achieves its greatest effect. His Siegmund appeals to the public even more. We clamor for him to bring his Siegfried here: for now we must content ourselves with hearing the "Forging Songs" in a concert hall. Before leaving for the United States, the glorious singer once more gave a recital with Victor Schiöler at the piano. The newly appointed 'singer to the Royal Danish court' set sail for the New World crowned with laurels." (Dr. Alma Heiberg, Allgemeine Musik Zeitung, p339, 28 March 1930)


From Denmark/Germany to the United States


19-25 February 1930-Melchior sails from Cherbourg to New York on the Aquitania. "Mr. Melchior...sang 14 performances in the month prior to sailing," announces the New York Times.
5 March 1930
  • Met Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Whitehill, Ludikar, Kappel, Branzell. Melchior's first performance of the 1929-30 Met season. Ernst Lert (1st season with Met) is stage director of the Lohengrin, Tristan, and Tannhäuser performances; Wymetal, the Götterdämmerung and Parsifal.

New York Herald Tribune: "The performance...benefited greatly by Mr. Melchior's musical taste and skill, although he was not in good voice" (p. 14)

New York Times: "A large audience gave [Melchior] a cordial welcome. His singing was marked by the musicianship and sincerity which he has shown in former years." (p. 16) 

New York Sun: "A role in which he is admirable" (p. 23)

New York Telegram: "Mr. Melchior in his flowing robes of Arthurian legend made a big and pudgy Knight of Cornwall with a pronounced Parsifal complex. Some of the music he uttered in tones of real magnificence. And yet he failed in all respects to rise to the height of Tristan's "Wohin nun Tristan scheidet" in the finale of Act II" (Sanborn, p. 7)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior looked particularly priestly [due to his beard] in the first act of this "Tristan und Isolde," the while he sang with a lyricism to which our "Tristan" audiences have...been utterly unaccustomed...Mr. Melchior's treatment of much of the scene of Tristan's agony was more than ordinarily convincing." (Thompson, p. 15)

New York American: "It was a pleasure and a privilege to hear the role of Tristan sung last evening by...Lauritz Melchior....He sang with great beauty, neither forcing nor laboring for top notes: - a fluent delivery and effectiveness in each phrase and declamation....It is a pity that his return was delayed so long [into the season]" (Bennett, p. 18)

New York Evening Journal: "It is regrettable that... [Lauritz Melchior] is not at the Metropolitan from the start of the season to the end, if for no other purpose than to sing "Tristan." There is something remarkable about his interpretation of this role....Mr. Melchior combines excellent acting with first class singing. And it requires something of an actor to keep from looking idiotic in the love philtre business of the first act and the delirium episode of the third act [,although]...there were times in the long love duet of the second act when Mr. Melchior's voice wavered slightly and his higher register betrayed weakness"  (K.W., p. 17)

New York World: "Last year Mr. Melchior in the same role caused a lot of hard-boiled Wagnerites to sit up in their chairs and take in, perhaps for the first time in years, a Tristan who was neither a wooden Indian in the first act nor a raucous maniac in the last. This Tristan traversed during the evening the successive stages of a sensitive, noble lord sobered by the painful position in which he found himself: a man who, unawares, succumbs to a devastating passion and a wounded, delirious lover who cannot die before he has seen his love again. In action and song Mr. Melchior delineated these aspects of Wagner's hero with truth and conviction. Last night, Mr. Melchior gave us the same characterization, except for an occasional forcing of the high voice in forte. The astonishing part of the performance was the freshness and absence of fatigue in the cruel third act, where, ordinarily, an artist's endurance peters out and its place is usurped by vocal-and histrionic-ranting. Indeed, this third act has become such a traditional eyesore and an offense to the ear that one listens to the great orchestral introduction with dismay. Mr. Melchior made his last act the climax of his impersonation. Particularly fine was his careful gradation of his slow awakening to the reality of his passion, in which he employed a wealth of color and a variety of expression and brought out the name of Isolde with the true accent of one who has emerged from the mists of forgetfulness into the full glory of ecstatic comprehension." (Chotzinoff, p. 9)

14 March 1930
  • Met Opera: Götterdämmerung (part of "unabridged" Ring). Bodanzky. Melchior, Schorr, Tappolet [debut], Schuetzendorf, Kappel, Branzell, Manski

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior...was able to give us singing instead of bawling, and histrionic intelligence instead of dumbness" (Lawrence Gilman, p. 10)

New York World: "This excellent artist looked more like one's idea of Nero, especially when he appeared borne aloft by some hefty followers of the Gibichungs at the close of the second act. But Mr. Melchior was vocally a magnificent Nero who sang his strenuous measures with an intelligence altogether new to the Metropolitan's Wagnerian tradition....Yesterday there was no sign of constraint [in forte highs like in the previous Tristan] and he encompassed the altitudes of his music with ease and a ringing quality of tone." (Chotzinoff, p. 11)

New York Telegram: "Mr. Melchior looked at times like Nero, at others like Falstaff, and vocally, was many things at different moments" (Peyser, p. 26)

New York Evening Journal: "splendid singing....It would be difficult to find fault with the performance of Mr. Melchoir [sic] as Siegfried. What defects were manifested in his voice in his Tristan of last week had vanished yesterday, and particularly gratifying was the ease with which he met the upper register demands of the score." (K.W.)

New York American: "of the same high standard, musically and dramatically, as he ever maintains" (Bennett, p. 18)

New York Times: "The Siegfried was Lauritz Melchior, a Siegfried of appropriately heroic stature, deeply imbued with the spirit of his role.  If Siegfried is regarded as Wagner regarded him and as his music characterizes him, he is indeed a tragic hero....Mr. Melchior made the essential things in the character and in the development  of the drama clear to the beholder. A memorable moment was the terrific apparition of Siegfried on Gunther's mask, which suddenly loomed over Bruennhilde's rock, fearfully silent and menacing in its power. This was a sight as mysterious and sinister as any imagining of Norse mythology. In fact, Mr. Melchior's entire impersonation was distinguished by significance, authority and certainty of effect. But he should beware of his voice....There are regrettable indications that fortissimo singing in high places is taking the bloom off Mr. Melchior's tones, which were usually brilliant and resonant in fortissimo passages, but often strained, and in piano passages sometimes beautiful and sometimes like blotting paper. In conception and interpretation he has gained immensely since we first saw him five years ago in Baireuth." (Downes, p. 26)

22 March 1930
  • Met. Opera: Lohengrin. Riedel. Melchior, Whitehill, Tappolet, Cehanovsky, Stueckgold, Kappel. Melchior's Met debut in the role. Sets: Joseph Urban.

New York Times: "He sang with notable freedom and warmth of tone." (p. 27)

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior [was]... in excellent voice" (p. 16)

New York World: [Melchior seemed miscast] (p. 17)

New York American: "Lauritz Melchior is vocally the best German tenor at the Metropolitan....Perhaps because of nervousness, Melchoir's [sic] opening song was smarred [sic] by a distressing lapse from pitch. However, he found himself after awhile and the rest of his contributions showed better, but not perfect control. Full and rich tone, fine musical declamation, and flexible handling of the lyrical line were outstanding features of his performance, in addition to heroic appearance and action of intelligence and feeling." (Liebling, p. L5)

28 March 1930
  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Whitehill, Tappolet, Kappel, Branzell.

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior knows how to give Wagner's impassioned lyricism its due value.  He does not shout or bark-he remembers the contour of phrases and the expressive potency of beautiful tone.  His "Tristan" has gained in wealth of significant detail since he first disclosed it here a year ago, and it is now the outstanding one at the Metropolitan"  (p. 10).

New York Post: "Some fogging of tone and uncertainty of pitch in otherwise effective singing" (Thompson, p. 16)

New York Telegram: "[not engaging enough to the eye despite deep red costumes but] he had the graciousness to emit some notes of a commanding brilliance, but at times his voice was reedy and intractable, and of legato he desplayed little. I have seldom heard either the "War Morold die so werth" or the "Wohin nun Tristan schiedet" delivered so poorly. On the other hand, his "O Koenig, das kann ich dir nicht sagen" was done well" (Sanborn, p. 28)

New York World: "The Danish tenor has been in better voice, but knowing what it is all about he used a little extra intelligence to offset the vocal difficulties he encountered. In the love duet he sank to his knees at Isolde's side,a piece of businesss which I thought happer for that moment than Tristan's old habit of sitting down on the bench alongside Isolde-a most uncomfortable position" (p. 11)

New York Evening Journal: "Mr. Melchior...sang with some restraint, but nevertheless well. His capable acting in the third act aided the opera over that trying scene" (K.W., p. 6)

New York American: "Although he 'flats' now and then a bit, chiefly through excess of feeling, Lauritz Melchior is the best Tristan heard and seen at the Metropolitan since the good old days about which we are told so much by the ancients.  He has the heroic stature required, he possesses vibrant and ample voice, he sings with rare intelligence and emotional appeal....In the swooningly beautiful music of the second act Kappel and Melchior touched the very heights of romantic vocalism. It was one of the few times that I have heard the famous duet sung so entrancingly" (Liebling, p. 20)

[1 April 1930-Death of Cosima Wagner]

3 April 1930
  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Whitehill, Tappolet, Ohms, Branzell.

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior's Tristan was commendable for expressive use of his voice and fine understanding of the dramatic proportion of his music." (p. 25)

New York World: "Mr. Melchior was by far the most veracious artist of any who labored last night [,but seemed in poor voice and was] strangely quiescent when [Marke] appeared, and listened with apparent boredom to Mr. Tappolet's dictum of forebearance" (Seaman, p. 13)

6 April 1930
  • Concert, Metropolitan Opera: Melchior performs "In Fernem Land" and "Dio Mio Potevi," Pelletier conducting.
9 April 1930
  • Met. Opera: Tannhäuser. Bodanzky. Melchior, Schuetzendorf, Tappolet, Ohms, Kappel. 

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior, not at his best at first, improved later from the vocal point of view, while his impersonation was dramatically effective." (p. 22)

New York World: "He was an impressive figure last night, without, perhaps, revealing all the fire of impetuous youth" (Seaman, p. 15)

11 April 1930
  • Met Opera: Lohengrin. Bodanzky. Melchior, Whitehill, Tappolet, Cehanovsky, Mueller, Ohms.

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior portrayed the title part with beauty of tone, if somewhat too ponderous in his stage appearance." p. 9

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior sang the Grail Narrative with resonant effectiveness" (Perkins, p. 10)

15 April 1930
  • Met tour to Philadelphia: Parsifal. Serafin. Melchior, Tappolet, Schuetzendorf, Didur, Gustafson, Kappel. This is the last of Melchior's 8 opera performances for the Met this season.

Phil. Inquirer: " one of the most satisfactory incumbents of [Parsifal] today. Admirable artistry is exemplified in his singing of the part, the dark hue of his voice being in keeping with the solemnity of the work, and his acting is convincing, particularly in the closing act, because of his maturity of appearance. Logical, dramatic development is depicted in the range from the prophesied "fool" of the opening act to the grave dignity of the last, exalted episode, and the repulsing of Kundry was marked by tremendous intensity. But he only appeared intermittently in the "Love Feast," injuring the effect" (Linton Martin, p.8).

From the United States to France

26 April 1930
  • Concert: Monte Carlo. Paul Paray. Wagner concert.

From France to England

30 April 1930
  • Covent Garden: Parsifal. Robert Heger. Melchior, Andrésen, Janssen, Habich, Bertram, Leider

Times: "Melchior's cry of "Amfortas!" was the first of his several eloquent vocal points" (p. 14).

The Scotsman: "Lauritz Melchior's embodiment of the name part is well-known here [in London]. His characterization has much improved since 1927 [the last time Parsifal was performed at Covent Garden]." (p. 10)

Sunday Times (May 4): Newman thinks Melchior's performance was creditable and at its most convincing in his singing in the second act, despite not "looking the part" of the "mystical" figure.

Guardian: "His Parsifal was particularly good last night" both in its suggestion of "the hero's silliness in the obsolete sense of the term" and musically, as "he sang powerfully but without shrillness." (E.B. p. 7)]

2 May 1930
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Bruno Walter. Melchior, Andrésen, Schorr, Lehmann, Leider, Olszewska.

The Scotsman: "Melchior...acted with youthful impulsiveness. His command of vocal color has considerably increased." (p.14).

Guardian: Reviewer considers Melchior's Siegmund "awkward" but "on the whole, his reading has matured" since "he sings the part without the blatant tone of which he used to be guilty in loud passages" although "his soft singing is sometimes a little uncertain now both in breath control and intonation" (E.B. p. 22)

5 May 1930
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Walter. Melchior, Tessmer, Schorr, Madin, Philip Bertram, Grühn, Anna Tibell, Leider.

Times: "Melchior is the best [Siegfried] that we have had in recent years.  He never flagged, and he was able to relieve the trying boisterousness of the fact by genuinely expressive singing when opportunity offered, first in his realization of his mother's sufferings, later in his reflections during the "Waldweben," and finally in his approach to Brünnhilde" (p. 14).

The Scotsman: "The singing of Lauritz Melchior was vivid, for he looked a Siegfried. He sang the forging songs with powerful effect, and in the Forest Scene, he delivered some of the lines in a half conversational manner, without depriving them of their musical quality. Here and there his boyishness was a little too self-conscious, but in the great duet and final scene he rose to a great height, both vocally and dramatically." (p.10).

Sunday Times (May 11): "Melchior's Siegfried, superbly young and vital, in spite of his bulk, went from strength to strength. In the forging songs he gave us a foretaste of the rich magnificence that was to crown the climax of the love duet with Bruennhilde." (H.F., p.7)

Observer (May 11): "Mr. Melchior carried the opera on his shoulders. The part exactly suits him; Siegfried's joy of living, his boisterous spirits, and sly fun, confidence, dreams, and hopes are all there; voice in plenty, and never too much, and thoroughly capable acting [but "the discrepancy was noticeable" between the conductor and singer's conceptions of tempo regarding the song at the forge] (p. 14)

9 May 1930
  • Covent Garden: Götterdämmerung. Walter. Melchior, Janssen, Helgers, Madin, Leider, Olszewska, de Foras.

Times: "Melchior completed his conception of Wagner's hero in a finely rounded performance, always singing well, whether in the proud vigour of the earlier scenes or in the bewilderment of the second act, but never so well as in his final lyrical relation of his own history" (p. 10).

Guardian: "His art is ripening with the part. He still had his dull patches when he sang softly, but he could thrill by his climaxes without becoming aggressive, and Siegfried's narrative was [almost] moving....[but his "tinselly" coat of mail looked unconvincingly cheap]. (E.B., p.3)

Observer (May 11): "Herr Melchior sang firmly and acted, as far as his absurd costume would allow, convincingly" (p. 14)

12,13 May 1930
  • Recording sessions, HMV: London. Excerpts from Tristan and Götterdämmerung.  
15 May 1930
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Robert Heger. Melchior, Andrésen, Bockelmann, Eva Turner, Leider, Constance Willis.
16 May 1930
  • Covent Garden: Parsifal. Melchior, --, Janssen, --, --, Leider (Radio: Act II is broadcast)
17 May 1930
  • Recording Sessions; HMV; London: Otello excerpts

From England to France


20, 22 May 1930
  • Paris Opéra: Tristan und Isolde Karl Elmendorff. Melchior, Kipnis, Nissen, Leider, Anday.
  • Temps: "In the second act, she [Leider] bestowed upon us a long lesson in singing, in union with M. Lauritz Melchior, who was wholly admirable from start to finish in the role of Tristan. Certain parts of his register, show uncommon puissance; ...his voice is supple and disciplined,....[he produces] exquisite shadings in the love duet....The supernatural changeover (as a result of the love potion) is accomplished by Mme. Leider and Mr. Melchior with infinite nuance.  In the course of their careers, they have never been more divinely inspired. They sing with essential musicality, a technique that is part of Wagnerian thought, putting the lie to the need for a resolute, forced, staccato declamation."  (Henry Malherbe, 28 May, p. 3)
27 May 1930
  • Paris Opéra: Walküre. Elmendorff. Melchior, Kipnis, Schorr, Rethberg, Kappel, Olszewska.


From France to England


29 May 1930
  • Recording sessions, HMV; London. Arias from L'Africaine and Pagliacci


From England to Germany


6 June 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Parsifal
11 June 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tristan und Isolde
16 June 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida
17 June 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
20 June 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried
22 June 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung
20 July-10 August 1930
  • BAYREUTH FESTIVAL 1930. Melchior's contributions this year are as Siegfried in the first of two Rings and in the Toscanini-conducted Tristan production (though he is also tenor Sigismund Pilinsky's "understudy" for the 22 July performance of the new Tannhäuser revival in which Melchior will participate in 1931). Siegfried Wagner dies during the festival this year (August 5); Melchior is one of the pallbearers at the August 8 burial in Bayreuth.
23 July 1930: Tristan & Isolde. Toscanini. Melchior, Bockelmann, Kipnis, Larsen-Todsen, Helm

29 July 1930:
Siegfried. Elmendorff. Melchior, Zimmermann, Schorr, Habich, Kravitt, Holmgren, Szantho, Larsen-Todsen.

31 July 1930: 
Götterdämmerung. Elmendorff. Melchior, Tschurchenthaler, Kravitt, Habich, Larsen-Todsen, Szantho, Sinnek(?).

6 August 1930:
Tristan & Isolde. See 23 July.

10 August 1930: Tristan & Isolde. See 23 July.

  • On Tristan: "The baritonal substance in Lauritz Melchior's beautiful organ gave Tristan virility, and saved Melchior from the charge of being, at bottom, a lyric tenor.  This artist proves that a completely genuine specimen of that seemingly dying breed, the heldentenor, still exists. His acting is highly melodic, his singing is highly dramatic: each note is both acted and sung, not merely treated as a noise. No instrument: a singing man." Frankfurter Zeitung (Bernhard Diebold 25 July 1930)

    New York Times: "The principal singers [in Tristan and Isolde], Lauritz Melchior and Nanny Larsen Todsen, had none of the suppleness of the instrumentalists. One had the impression that they were sometimes irked by having to submit to the discipline of slowly drawn-out phrases, requiring almost superhuman control of the voice. Nevertheless, Melchior's Tristan is a man, and how few Tristans are that."  (H.C. Colles July 26, 1930, p. 18)

    On Siegfried: "When this artist can uplift his uniquely beautiful heldentenor by making all parts of the register near effortless, and not only bring to his art a heroically large appearance but also a constant striving for perfection in singing and acting, then he would be the perfect Siegfried. But high artistic seriousness, which shows itself in iron diligence, is not his strong point, and so again he offered only rough-hewn work. (Josef Stolzing, Völkischer Beobachter, 7 August 1930).

(Ernest Newman claims that Melchior was inaudible at some point during Act III of one of the Siegfried performances in Sunday Times, p. 5, Aug 10; this may be what the Nazi reviewer is alluding to above)
1 September 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Aida. Colleagues at Hamburg Staatsoper this season are Bockelmann, Kalter, Kreuder, Land, Marowski, Muenchow, Schwartz; conductors are Pollak and Wolff
3 September 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tannhäuser
6 September 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Tristan und Isolde
9 September 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Otello
12 September 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried
21 September 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried
5 October 1930
  • Berlin Städtische: Le Prophete
9 October 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Otello
14 October 1930
  • Berlin Städtische: Le Prophete
17 October 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Walküre
19 October 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Aida. Final performance of Radames.
26 October 1930
  • Berlin Städtische: Le Prophete
1(?) November 1930
  • Hamburg Staatsoper: Siegfried. Last performance for Hamburg Staatsoper.
10 November 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Pagliacci
13 November 1930
  • Berlin Städtische: Le Prophete
19 November 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried
16 December 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Pagliacci
20 December 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Otello
22 December 1930
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Pagliacci
25 December 1930
  • Berlin Städtische: Le Prophete. Final performance of John of Leyden.





[1931]- Lauritz Melchior plays a joke on his friends by listing himself as "Laura Melchior, opernsängerin" in the annual Berlin city directories of 1931, 1932 and 1933 ( By 1931, Mr. and Mrs. Melchior are maintaining an apartment year-round in Berlin, despite their gypsy lifestyle. In New York, Mr. and Mrs. Melchior live at the Ansonia Hotel. In London, Mr. and Mrs. Melchior usually stay at [hotel name], and also make use of Walpole's apartment on Piccadilly, according to the 1931 Musical Who's Who by Pierre Key.
1 January 1931
  • RADIO: Berlin Radio. Studio performance of Otello. Otto Klemperer. Melchior, --, Janssen.
4 January 1931
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Walküre
11 January 1931
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Götterdämmerung

From Germany to France


11, 12 February 1931
  • Concerts: Paris, Théatre du Châtelet. Two Wagner concerts with Orchestra Colonne. Gabriel Pierné conducts. Melchior performs excerpts from Lohengrin, Meistersinger, and the third scene of Act I, Walküre with Henny Trundt (11th) and scenes from Act II, Walküre and Act III of Siegfried, with Trundt as Brünnhilde (12th)
13 February 1931
  • Paris Opéra: Siegfried. Philippe Gaubert. Melchior, Fabert, Huberty, Duclos, Narçon, Mortimer, Montfort, Lubin
18 February 1931
  • Paris Opéra: Parsifal. Gaubert. Melchior, Grommen, Rouard, Huberty, Narçon, Lubin


From France to the United States


19-24 February 1931-Melchior sails from Cherbourg to New York on the Bremen  
26 February 1931
  • Met Opera: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, Tappolet, Bohnen, Kappel, Ohms, Branzell. (part of "unabridged" Ring). This first of Melchior's ten performances this season with the Met. Ernst Lert is stage director for all productions in which Melchior participates this season except for Parsifal, where Wymetal performs that responsibility.

    New York Herald Tribune: "[The] presentation...was made noteworthy by the participation of Mr. Lauritz Melchior, the Wagner tenor with a voice.  Mr. Melchior, returning to the Metropolitan far too late in the operatic year to please those who are aware of his uncommon ability, gave us the first well-sung performance this season of a principal Wagner tenor role.  This Danish artist is not one of the megalophonous clan of tenors, that squawking brotherhood who ruin so much of Wagner's music here and abroad. Mr. Melchior does not regard a fortissimo as an invitation to shout and bawl. He is usually a respecter of pitch and tone, of the long phrase-line and the rhythmical design.  His voice, when he does not force it, is often delightful in quality. He is a musical singer, one who knows how to establish the necessary rapprochement between sensuous beauty and dramatic significance.  His voice was not in its best estate yesterday, and he missed some tricks in the love scene of the first act and in the 'Todesverkündigung' scene. Yet much of his singing was beautiful and discreet, and was so vast an improvement upon the efforts of certain of his colleagues that one was in no mood to chide him for an occasional lapse" (Lawrence Gilman, p. 17).

New York Sun: "This tenor ranks as one of the best Wagner interpreters now heard with the company. Unfortunately, yesterday he had little to offer by way of good fresh voice quality, and more than this, his figure, while imposing of stature, was a little too heavy for that of the young and romantic Siegmund. But his singing was always charged with emotional warmth and much color, and he sustained his characterization further by good histrionic ability." (p. 37)

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior sang generally with brilliancy and robustness. He increases in authority as the seasons pass, while there might be various opinions on the development of his voice." (Downes)

New York Post: "He was in good, if somewhat metallic, voice, with effective soft notes for the lyric salutation to Spring; the while his bulky impersonation had good moments of routine." (Thompson, p. 11)

New York American: "he had occasion again to please with his fine voice, ardent singing and impetuous acting" (Liebling, p. 17)

New York World-Telegram: "Mr. Melchior accomplished the finest work he has yet done at the Metropolitan. He sang the music with great warmth and dignity of utterance, and comported himself in the skins of the Volsung as a figure of flesh and blood" (L.B., p. 31)

2 March 1931
  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Schorr, Bohnen, Ohms, Telva.

    New York Times: "Mr. Melchior, well schooled in the Bayreuth tradition, made an excellent appearance in the first act, and in general, in this relatively short passage, treated his part with a fine sense of song, and a fortunate absence of inept histrionism which made the scene of the quaffing of the love potion one of real atmosphere and impressiveness. No question about it! He is the best Wagnerian tenor of recent seasons at the Metropolitan. But how long will the voice of Mr. Melchior retain its excellent qualities when he pushes his upper register so?....In the Second Act both Tristan and Isolde were untrue to the pitch....In general, the two leading artists (Melchior and Ohms) distinguished themselves by intelligent and sincere intentions that sometimes fell short of achievement." (Downes, p. 41) 

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior looks more like a Tristan than some of those who have been seen here. He is a man of stalwart figure and bears himself well. His singing is what might be expected of the best type of "heldentenor." His voice is heavy, but agreeable, and he sang last night with excellent art in the treatment of light and shade. His Tristan was well worthy of its applause." (Henderson, p. 37)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior brought the dignity and the routine that becomes a Bayreuth veteran. If this dignity at times verged on the sanctimonious, hinting of a Parsifal or a Lohengrin, it had the advantage of a consistent line. His bearded, red-robed figure suggested a more heroic spirit than was expressed in most of his singing, which was often husky, and in the love music of the second act obviously insecure. However, he rose nobly to the demands of the...long agony of the third act. There his voice had bite and ring.  He achieved the most violent phrases of this music with much less of forcing than the earlier scenes prophesied....[Still,]his voice was not in good condition last night." (Thompson, p. 15)

New York American: "A role in which he shines despite his huge physical stature, and his not exactly typical Wagnerian acting. Maybe one should be grateful for anything that departs from the traditional histrionism of the operatic stage. It takes time, however, to associate the Wagner figure with anything but measured movement and Olympian dignity of bearing. Vocally, Melchior gave much pleasure. His tones are sympathetic, he puts deep feeling into his measures, and he knows how to sing softly and in tune" (Liebling, p. 22)

New York World-Telegram: "Admirers of Mr. Melchior's vocalism had ample opportunity to revel in it last evening. At times his tones sounded round and rich; at others they were distinctly metallic; at still others hoarse and rough. And at times he hurled out notes like rocks from a catapult....[and furthermore his "visage" is not mobile or expressive enough, in apposition to his partner, Ohms] (Sanborn, p. 17)

6 March 1931
  • Met Opera: Siegfried. ("unabridged" Ring). Bodanzky. Melchior, Meader, Schorr, Schuetzendorf, Tappolet, Fleischer, Ranzow, Kappel.
New York Post: "Mr. Melchior had a fortunate afternoon, singing Siegfried with much vigor and vitality of voice." (Thompson, p. 4)

New York American: "The familiar Siegfried of Lauritz Melchior, who made a magnificent physical picture, had much to recommend it vocally and in musical meaning" (Liebling, p. 19)

New York World-Telegram: "especially admirable" (Sanborn, p. 26)
10 March 1931
  • Met. Opera tour to Philadelphia: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Whitehill, Bohnen, Kappel, Ranzow.
Philadelphia Inquirer: "When Lauritz Melchior made his American debut as Tristan in this city two seasons ago, he was hailed in The Inquirer as one of the most remarkable and notable Tristans of modern times, an impression that was later confirmed in New York. His performance last night was on the same high plane, matured emotionally, prevailingly dark in its vocal hue, unhackneyed in its characterization and drenched with dramatic sympathy." (Martin, p. 6)
13 March 1931
  • Met. Opera: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, Tappolet, Bohnen, Ohms, Kappel, Ranzow.
New York Post: "The Walsung bulked large in the frame of Lauritz Melchior, but had his moments of fog and uncertainty in the projection of his notes" (Thompson, p. 5)
15 March 1931
  • Concert, Met Opera: Melchior sings "Dio Mio Potevi" and "Imbrunzt in Herzen;" the conductor is Pierre Henrotte.
20 March 1931
  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. See 10 Mar 1931.

    New York Herald Tribune: "Both [Gertrude Kappel as Isolde and Melchior as Tristan] sang often with beauty of tone and fervor of indication.  Mr. Melchior resisted the temptation to shout in the trying climaxes of the Third Act, and his histrionism was restrained and telling" (p. 10).
26 March 1931
  • Met. Opera: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, Tappolet, Bohnen, Manski, Ohms, Ranzow.
28 March 1931
  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Schuetzendorf, Tappolet, Ohms, Ranzow.
3 April 1931
  • Met. Opera: Parsifal. Bodanzky. Melchior, Bohnen, Whitehill, Schuetzendorf, Tappolet, Kappel.

New York Herald Tribune: "admirable singing [by] Mr. Melchior" (p. 12).

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior was a good Parsifal, if not a highly musical one." (W.J. Henderson, p. [9])

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior's Parsifal has the Bayreuth stamp on it, which means an exceptionally finished and intelligent performance. The voice? The upper tones came through, and sometimes with fine dramatic emphasis; there was excellent treatment of text; there were vocal passages of baritone color." (Downes, p. 25)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior's Parsifal was one of dignity and beauty, both vocally and dramatically." (L.S.D.,p. 8)

10 April 1931
  • Met. Opera: Siegfried. This is the last of ten performances with the Met this season.


From the United States to Holland


25 April 1931
  • The Hague, Netherlands, Gebouw v. K&W: Götterdämmerung. Egon Pollak. Melchior, Groenen, List, Stern, Leider, Klose, Stemann.  Klose also joins Montes & Schramm-Tschörner as a Rhinedaughter. Hans Winckelmann. Evidently a visit from the Hamburg State personnel.


From Holland to England


28 April 1931
  • Covent Garden: Tristan und Isolde. Robert Heger. Melchior, Janssen, Andrésen, Leider, Willer.

Times: "The enthusiasm at the end of each act was exceptionally exuberant. It was natural that it should be directed particularly to Mme. Leider and Herr Melchior....his Tristan has only been kept in the background here because he has been so essential to the performances of Der Ring" (p. 12).

Sunday Times (May 3): "His softer tones still lack ideal beauty and body. But he manages now to lessen the disparity [of quality] between them and his forte and fortissimo, and he handles them with such skill [that the quieter parts of the duet were particularly impressive]. His more powerful tones are as brilliant as ever, but he now employs them with more poetic discretion than of old. As an actor he has improved beyond recognition, even in the short interval since last summer, when I heard him at Bayreuth. His Tristan...was not only extraordinarily dignified: it had a curious spiritual quality about it even at its moments of greatest frenzy" (Newman, p. 7)

4 May 1931
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Bruno Walter. Melchior, Tessmer, Schorr, Habich, Edward Delfosse, Gruehn, Willer, Juliette Lippe

Times: "Melchior sang finely throughout [the three acts], from the moment when the young barbarian receives his first stab of human sorrow, 'So starb meine Mutter an mir?' to the glowing end of the great love scene. A vigorous Siegfried, alive to every situation, is the first necessity; and Herr Melchior is that" (p. 12)

(RADIO: Act III broadcast)

8 May 1931
  • Covent Garden: Götterdämmerung. Walter. Melchior, Janssen, Andrésen, Madin, Lippe, Olszewska, de Foras.

Times: "Melchior, who sang finely throughout, has never delivered Siegfried's narration of his life-story with the animated vividness that he put into it last night. It lead with a terrible swiftness up to the final self-revelation, and made the hearers forget all the falsity of the spellbound Siegfried. It was a splendid leading up to [the final scene of Brünnhilde's immolation]."(p. 10).

Scotsman: "Herr Lauritz Melchior was in good voice as Siegfried, and he sang throughout with an intelligent appreciation of the dramatic values of the part." (p. 14)

Guardian: "Melchior's Siegfried...[has] never been known to be better" (E.B. p. 17)

Sunday Times (May 10): "The Siegfried of Melchior...[was] in the great line" (Newman, p. 7)

9 May 1931
  • Recording session, HMV: London. Excerpt from Meistersinger
14 May 1931
  • Covent Garden: Tristan und Isolde. Walter. Melchior, Schorr, --, Leider, Olszewska
16 May 1931
  • 1. Special Appearance: Melchior sings at the Danish Legation in London.

    2. Recording session, HMV, London, excerpts from Walküre and Meistersinger
Reviewing "Prize Song" and "Forging Songs": "worthy of note are two magnificent discs from Lauritz Melchior, in which the admirable artist magnificently pours out his incomparable voice." Emile Vuillermoz, Le Temps, 18 June 1933, p. 5
19 May 1931
  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Heger. Melchior, Andrésen, Schorr, Lippe, Leider, Willer.
21 May 1931
  • Recording sessions, HMV, London. Excerpts from Siegfried.
22 May 1931
  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Heger. Cast same as 4 May 1931.

    New York Times: "Melchior has improved considerably in the last twelve months, both as a singer and as an actor. He uses his voice perhaps more sparingly, but with finer effect, and he can stand the grueling test of the Siegfried role better than any other tenor that I can remember. There is still ample room for improvement in his acting, which adheres a little too closely to Wagnerian conventions....[For example,] antics [such as]- the skipping about the stage- the "attitudinizing" - merely make the discrepancy between his age and that of the character he represents more obvious.  Melchior was most admirable in the forging of the sword, when his voice rang joyously and without effort, and in the musing of the forest scene, where the softest tones retained the warmth these exquisitely lyrical phrases demand. He lingered too long in the cutting of the reeds....But the freshness and vigor of his voice in the third act set the seal on a performance of exceptional merit." (F. Bonavia. May 31, 1931, X8) 
23 May 1931
  • Recording sessions, HMV, London. Excerpt from Meistersinger
25 May 1931
  • Covent Garden: Götterdämmerung. Heger. Melchior, Arthur Fear, Helgers, Habich, Leider, Willer, Odette de Foras 

Times: "Melchior has, it is generally agreed, excelled this year all his previous interpretations of Siegfried by the greater flexibility and subtlety of his character drawing as well as by the perfect steadiness of his singing" (p. 10).

(RADIO: Act II broadcast)


From England to France


28 May 1931
  • Paris Opéra: Otello. Philippe Gaubert. Melchior, Gall, Singher.
9, 11 June 1931
  • Paris Opéra: Tristan und Isolde. Leo Blech. Melchior, Janssen, Andrésen, Leider, Olszewska
  • Temps: "Sober and concentrated was Mr. Lauritz Melchior's interpretation of the role of Tristan, whom we again applaud over and over in this role. Mr. Melchior wore a black wig and beard, draped himself in an sombre red cloak, setting off the grey steel of his helmet and sword. His demeanor was always simple and austere. With breadth of shoulder of an athlete and a giant, he evoked the image of a knight. At the beginning of the third act he played his long scene of suffering with a moving realism. His virile voice, rather un-ringing when he does not apply resonance, produces odd and touching sounds. He is an artist of distinguished and robust lineage." (Malherbe, June 17, p. 3)
13 June 1931
  • Special Appearance: Lauritz Melchior and Frida Leider appear at a super-elaborate party thrown by Elsa Maxwell for Nicky de Gunzberg (Paris Vogue) to sing the duet from Act II of Tristan und Isolde.
16, 18 June 1931
  • Paris Opéra: Götterdämmerung. Blech. Melchior, Janssen, Andrésen, Duclos, Leider, Olszewska, Heidersbach
  • Temps: "The echo of noble tones which Lauritz Melchior imparts to the role of Siegfried still rings in our ears. Never has he shown an authority more effortless and well-sustained. He elevates and gives life to his character with a zeal of strong calibre, an artless, trenchant ardour. He never fails to convince. The death of Siegfried is mimed through all the gradations of pathos and without any exaggeration. At the same time as he is a singer of supreme power, Mr. Melchior is a tragedian with a sober and true art. He clearly dominates his partners." (H. Malherbe, June 24, p.3)


From France to Austria


21 June 1931
  • Vienna State Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Franz Schalk. Melchior, Rode, Mayr, Trundt, Anday.

  • "Lauritz Melchior has the Wagnerian heroic stuff, in the external aspects and also in the pathos and impactfulness of his voice, the resolute, nobly restrained gesture, in the unmistakable stylistic sensibility of the "Bayreuth Traditions"....In the visionary ecstasy of the first act, in the passionate renunciatory and delirious outbursts of the last triumph of might,the gleaming upper register, Melchior's metal-like, clangourous voice [sounded] over the thunderous orchestra.  The day and night speech, of uncommon sobriety, rendered the second act anticlimactic. In vain did Melchior seek in lyric passages the correct handling of voix-mixte. What remained was-perhaps a result of sudden occuring indisposition-a Tristan-foreign designation.[?] It was less heroic that Herr Melchior sang the [A Flat at the end of the third act??] to Isolde's feet....[reviewer goes on to further criticize the coordination of the overall staging with the music] ("r", Neue Freie Presse, p. 5) 


From Austria to Germany


29 June 1931
  • Berlin Staatsoper: Siegfried.
18 July-3 August 1931
  • BAYREUTH FESTIVAL 1931. This is Melchior's sixth and final season participating in the festival at Bayreuth.
Tristan & Isolde. Furtwängler. Melchior, Bockelmann, Manowarda, Larsen-Todsen, Helm

. Toscanini. Melchior,
Hüsch, Manowarda and/or Andrésen, Helm, Müller

. Elmendorff. Melchior,
Andrésen, Schorr and/or Bockelmann, Müller, Larsen-Todsen, Branzell


"Lauritz Melchior and Maria Müller are an ideal pair [as Tannhäuser and Elisabeth].(i) That Lauritz Melchior as Tristan and Larsen Todsen as Isolde are truly superlative Wagner singers, has been known for a fairly long time not only to Bayreuth but also the world."(ii) Frankfurter Zeitung: (Heinrich Simon) i.28, ii. 29 July 1931

21 July 1931
  • BAYREUTH FESTIVAL 1931: Tannhäuser

To Argentina

Boat People:

Lauritz Melchior lived a life of constant travel for decades,  journeying by train, plane, automobile, or, as seen here, by ship

(with Mrs. Melchior, early 1930s)

Lauritz Melchior traveling by boat with Mrs. Melchior

RETURN TO TOP Return to Chronology, 1926-1929 Onwards to Chronology, 1931-1933

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!


Information to share? Questions? Suggestions? Write me at using Melchior's name in the subject line of the email
Copyright © 2005 Victoria Boutilier, All Rights Reserved
Last Updated October 14, 2005