Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal

Lauritz Melchior Web

Performance Chronology

1938-1939: War Looms


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Performance Chronologies:

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

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

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.

Met Opera 1938-39 season (extended "World's Fair" season)--Melchior gives his final opera performances in Europe (Covent Garden (including final Otello), Royal Opera, Copenhagen--

4, 5 November 1938

  • Lauritz Melchior and Lotte Lehmann give two joint recitals in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music. Ignace Strasfogel is Melchior's accompanist.

9 November 1938

  • Concert: Constitution Hall, Washington DC. Melchior sings Siegfried's forging songs and two songs by Richard Strauss conducted by Hans Kindler.

12 November 1938

  • RADIO: Red Cross Roll Call over WABC, 9:00-9:30 Lauritz Melchior, Connee Boswell and others, broadcast from Washington.

13 November 1938

  • RADIO: Lauritz Melchior, tenor, Katherine Locke, actress, Benny Goodman, clarinetist, 2:30 WJZ. Contradiction?: same date: RCA Magic Key, Frank Black conductor, NBC, guests Clifton Fadiman, Helen Claire

November 1938

  • concerts?

21 November 1938

  • Concert: 'Bagby concert,' Waldorf-Astoria. With Lotte Lehmann.

23 November 1938

  • Met Opera: Walküre. Leinsdorf. Melchior, List, Nissen, Flagstad, Lawrence, Thorborg. Melchior's 1938-1939 season debut. Sachse returns as stage director. Melchior will sing 49 performances for the Met this season.

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior seemed in especially good voice." (Downes, p. 38)

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchoir (sic) was in notably good voice and often genuinely heroic of utterance" (Thompson, p. 27)

26 November 1938

  • Met. Opera: Lohengrin. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Huehn, Gurney, Cehanovsky, Lehmann, Manski.

    NY Times:
    "Mr. Melchior, in splendid voice, was a more than fitting companion ...[ to Lehmann's Elsa]. This is a role whose heroic conception and execution are familiar...." (p. 48)

(Acts I and II are given in more complete form than usual)

28 November 1938

  • Met. Opera: Siegfried. Bodanzky. Melchior, Laufkoetter, Schorr, Vogel, Cordon, Bodanya, Thorborg, Flagstad.

    New York Times: "He sings at the forge with a buoyancy of spirit and brilliance of tone that in themselves paint the character." (Olin Downes, p. 26)

"His energetic deportment and the exuberance of his singing did much-as they generally do-to give the characterization a working realism. The Danish tenor's voice sometimes was a little on the tight side in the upper register, but, gratifyingly, no such flaw was noticeable in the forging song. Nor did his last act vocalism have anything like a preponderance of it....several good and life-sized chuckles greeted his antics [with the reed pipe.]:" (New York World Telegram, Rbt. Bagar)

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior was in ringing voice and his singing carried conviction throughout the evening" (Thompson, p. 15) (The reviewer claims that Melchior had to strike the anvil three times in the sword-forging scene before the anvil would split, and that the sword would not break Wotan's spear either)

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior's young Siegfried is less illusive to the eye than his portrayals of more mature Wagnerian protagonists, but is enacted with spirit and understanding of the dramatic values of the work." (Perkins, p. 17)

2 December 1938

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Huehn, List, Flagstad, Thorborg.

New York Herald Tribune: "The Tristan of Mr. Melchior remains his most compelling characterization....[But] the huskiness which has from the first been noticeable in his half-voice singing does not lessen with the passing years and therefore, such parts of the score as "Wohin nun Tristan scheidet," and the quiet portions of the second act love-duet, although movingly and expressively delivered, suffer accordingly. But whenever he can employ the full strength of his resonant voice, especially in the anguished outbursts of the third act, one realizes anew that...the Danish tenor is still without a peer among his contemporaries in the role." (Bohm, p. 3)

New York Times
: "Mr. Melchior sang not only with fine color and intensity in the duet of the second act; he seemed to rise to a greater height when he sang Tristan's final words before he relinquished life at the touch of Melot's sword. We do not recall a nobler or more pathetic delivery of these lines...Mr. Melchior fulfilled the needs of his part with...opluence of tone and tragic spirit." (Downes, 10)

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior, at very near his best, contributed many phrases of splendid tone. As has been true of past performances, he gave to the conclusion of the second act, beginning with "O Koenig, das kann ich dir nicht sagen" a noble pathos that no other Tristan of many years more than suggested." (Thompson, p. 31)

7 December 1938

  • Met. Opera: Lohengrin. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Nissen, List, Gabor, Jessner, Thorborg.

New York Herald Tribune: "The best vocal performance of the evening was that of Mr. Melchior, who was in his best voice" (Perkins, p. 17)

New York Sun: "In the course of the evening Mr. Melchior exhibited considerable versatility in the matter of tone production, ranging from the bright and hard-driven to the relaxed and almost inaudibly soft. But he sang a respectable number of splendid phrases." (Thompson, p. 37)

9 December 1938

  • Met. Opera: Lohengrin. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Nissen, List, Cehanovsky, Jessner, Doe.

New York Times: "When Lohengrin...made his appearance, the youngsters [3,500, seated as part of a Opera Guild series for schoolchildren] showed their approval [with applause]. Mr. Melchior appeared to be a bit confused but didn't forget his cue." (p. 12)

11 December 1938

  • Concert, Met Opera: Melchior sings the "Prize Song," and the end of Act I Walküre with Marjorie Lawrence conducted by Fausto Cleva.

15 December 1938

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Nissen, List, Flagstad, Thorborg.

New York Sun: "in splendid voice" (Kolodin, p. 35)

(The second act set used for this performance is the design antedating the First World War, now used for tours)

20 December 1938

  • Met. Opera: Walküre. See 23 Nov 1938. 

22 December 1938

  • Met. Opera: Tannhäuser. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Huehn, List, Manski, Flagstad.

28 December 1938

  • Met. Opera: Siegfried. Bodanzky. Melchior, Laufkoetter, Nissen, Vogel, Cordon, Bodanya, Thorborg, Flagstad.

New York Herald Tribune: "Mme. Flagstad, Mr. Melchior and the other principals were in excellent form"

New York Sun: "Mr. Melchior split the anvil lustily" (p. 13)


4 January 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tannhäuser. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Nissen, List, Thorborg, Flagstad

6 January 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. See 2 Dec 1939. 

8 January 1939

  • RADIO: Met Opera auditions; Lauritz Melchior speaks on the broadcast, which starts at 5 PM.

10 January 1939

  • Met. Opera in Philadelphia: Walküre. Leinsdorf. Melchior, List, Nissen, Rethberg, Flagstad, Thorborg.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Mr. Melchior was his former, robust self as Siegmund, giving fervor to the duet in the first act, and pathos to the later scene with Sieglinde, singing always with impressive power" (Martin, p. 13)
16 January 1939
  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Nissen, Flagstad, Branzell.
New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior summoned the tragic and impassioned image of the hero." (p. 10)

New York Times: " In fine form" (Taubman, p. 28)

New York Sun: "Neither Kirsten Flagstad nor Lauritz Melchior was in the best of voice, though they demonstrated anew that it is possible for them to be below par and still give performances that justly will stir enthusiasm" (Thompson, p. 14)

18 January 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tannhäuser (publicized as Melchior's 100th). Leinsdorf. Melchior, Schorr, Alsen, Branzell, Flagstad.

20,21 January 1939

  • Concerts, Indianapolis: All-Wagner. Indianapolis Symphony, Fabien Sevitzky

22 January 1939
  • RADIO: "Magic Key" 2-3 PM: "Prize Song" from Meistersinger, "Lover's Pledge" by R. Strauss, and Bransen's "Music of the Spring."

23 January 1939

  • Concert: "Bagby Concert.' Waldorf-Astoria, New York City.

24 January 1939

  • Met. Opera in Philadelphia: Siegfried. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Witte, Janssen [debut], Vogel, Alsen, Bodanya, Branzell, Flagstad

27 January 1939

  • Met. Opera: Walküre. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Alsen, Schorr, Rethberg, Flagstad, Stevens. 

30 January 1939

  • Recording session: RCA Victor. Orchestrated Schumann duets with Lehmann; Bruno Reibold conducts.

31 January 1939

  • Met. Opera in Philadelphia: Götterdämmerung. Bodanzky. Melchior, Janssen, List, Vogel, Lawrence, Branzell, Manski.

2 February 1939

  • RADIO: Vallee Varieties. Melchior appears on Rudy Vallée's show.

3 February 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tannhäuser. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Janssen, Alsen, Branzell, Jessner.

    New York Times: "One of the most dramatic features of this performance came with Lauritz Melchior's interpretation of what is actually the most poignant moment in the opera, Tannhaeuser's Narrative. There were earlier moments of less significance and tonal beauty, but the entire impersonation has upon it the stamp of authority and understanding." (Downes, p 11)

  • New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior found his great opportunity in the narrative of the last act and met it nobly, as he invariably does" (Thompson, p. 14) 


5 February 1939-Mr. and Mrs. Melchior attend an afternoon tea and cocktail party in their honor given by Senator and Mrs. Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI) and a dinner in their honor given by Mr. and Mrs. Harold H. Sims of the British Embassy, both in Washington D.C.



6 February 1939

  • Recital: 'Townsend Musical Morning', Mayflower Hotel, Washington DC, Ignace Strasfogel, accompanist. Melchior sings songs and arias by Wagner, Richard Strauss, Grieg, Lembcke, Hildach, Trunk, Hannikainen, Alnæs, Jordan, La Forge, Branson. Mr. and Mrs. Melchior remain in Washington to attend a post-concert party of Mrs. Townsend's, as well as a luncheon given by the Danish Minister and his wife.

    Washington Post: "Lauritz Melchior, resonant in voice and impressive in presence, sang with his accustomed command of dramatic cogency....He has splendid resources of plangent tone and an artistic surety in their use" (Ray C. B. Brown)

10, 11 February 1939
  • Concerts: Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PA. Reiner, Pittsburgh S.O.

13 February 1939

  • Met. Opera: Lohengrin.  Leinsdorf. Melchior, Janssen, Alsen, Cehanovsky, Flagstad, Branzell.

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior was in excellent form and sang frequently with brilliancy and always expressively." (Bohm, p. 14)

14 February 1939-Melchior gives a lecture/musical demonstration tonight at 7:30 PM at the Teacher's College of Columbia University on the therapeutic value of music to students training to teach people with disabilities. According to the New York Times of August 27, 1939, Melchior is named to the faculty of Columbia for the 1939-1940 season.

16 February 1939

  • Met. Opera: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, List, Schorr, Rethberg, Flagstad, Stevens. (unabridged Ring)

New York Times: "Lauritz Melchior was, as usual, a stirring Siegmund.  Who can forget the impact of his singing of the words, "Waelse, Waelse," to single out but one instance?" (Taubman, p. 22)

New York Sun
: "Mr. Melchior was in trim for genuinely heroic utterance" (Thompson, p. 23)

18 February 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Janssen, List, Flagstad, Branzell. BROADCAST

New York Sun: "in superb voice" (Kolodin, p. 13)

22 February 1939

  • Met. Opera: Siegfried. Bodanzky. Melchior, Laufkoetter, Schorr, Vogel, List, Bodanya, Branzell, Flagstad. (unabridged Ring)

New York Herald Tribune: "In...the closing scene...both Mme. Flagstad and Mr. Melchior contributed some of their finest singing."  (Bohm, p. 14)

New York Times: "This writer fails to recall an occasion when they sang the final duet of the opera in such fashion, with such wealth of tone and heroic passion." (Downes, p. 24)

New York Post: "The song he sings while he rubs the steel and blows the bellows is energetic and musically exultant. Later on when he learns the facts of life from the forest bird his characterization takes on a more serious turn, so that by the time he finds his way to the scene of the fire he appears like a young man who is at last ready and anxious for anything to happen. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Melchior seemed to experience both hope and anxiety as he awakened the sleeping Mme. Flagstad. But it was not long before anxiety turned to jubilation, with the audience thundering approval of the happy denouement." (Chotzinoff, p. 18)

24 February 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tannhäuser. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Janssen, List, Thorborg, Flagstad.

25 February 1939

  • Met. Opera: Walküre. Bodanzky. Melchior, Alsen, Huehn, Rethberg, Lawrence, Branzell (unabridged?)

1 March 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. See 18 Feb 1939.

New York Sun: "[A] splendid performance" (p. 26)

3 March 1939

  • Met. Opera: Götterdämmerung. Bodanzky. Melchior, Huehn, List, Vogel, Flagstad, Thorborg, Jessner (unabridged Ring)

New York Sun: "An afternoon of superb singing" (Thompson, p. 28)

New York Times: "The wholly exceptional artistic stature of Lauritz Melchior's Siegfried has come to be counted upon, in advance of the appearance.  There is no other Siegfried who approaches him in his vocal power and in the authority of his interpretation of the role. Incidentally, this is the result of a consistent development...from the time of the early stages of Mr. Melchior's Wagnerian progress... [beginning with his 1924 appearances at Bayreuth] the present day.  Fifteen years ago he was the bright and rising star of the Festspielhaus, but at that time the commentator would have been daring who would have prophesied what he has since accomplished.  Here, also is the epic line, the capacity for the heroic and pathetic which is magnificently and strikingly out of scale as compared to the prevailing contemporary standard of Wagner singing." (Downes, p 18)

7 March 1939

  • RADIO: WQXR: Lauritz Melchior, tenor, Jane Cowl, actress. A broadcast of a Salvation Army Dinner at the Hotel Pierre in New York City.

8 March 1939

  • Met. Opera: Parsifal. Bodanzky. Melchior, List ,Schorr, Vogel, Beattie, Flagstad.

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior's Parsifal...was in part a human being, in part a hieratic and symbolic figure." (Downes, p. 17)

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior's Parsifal, is, apart from his Tristan, his most convincing impersonation. It is not consistently well acted.  Both in the first act and in his scenes with the Flower Maidens and Kundry, in the second act, there are stolid phases in his delineation.  But his embodiment of the Parsifal made wise by pity is actuated by a profound sincerity and an innate nobility which is reflected in his moving delivery of the music." (Bohm, p. 13)

New York Journal American
: "earnest and vocally effective." (Bennett)

New York Sun: "The Parsifal of Lauritz Melchior had many splendid moments, the tenor's cry of "Amfortas!" after the burning revelation of Kundry's kiss was again of searing intensity. With Mr. List [as Gurnemanz] he sang the Good Friday music superbly." (Thompson, p.27)

New York Post: Melchior's Parsifal is a "dependable portrayal of the guileless fool." (Edward O'Gorman, p. 12)

?9 March 1939-Melchior is the guest of honor at Met opera patron Mrs. George B. St. George's tea.

9 March 1939

  • Met. Opera: Lohengrin. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Huehn, Alsen, Cehanovsky, Flagstad, Branzell

New York Herald Tribune: "in good voice" (Perkins, p. 16)

New York Sun: "[The] endurance [of Flagstad and Melchior] continues to be a source of amazement. Mr. Melchior in particular showed little evidence of the previous day's "Parsifal," singing his music with evident enthusiasm and much vocal resonance." (Kolodin, p. 27)

11 March 1939

  • Met. Opera: Götterdämmerung. Bodanzky. Melchior, Schorr, List, Gabor, Flagstad, Branzell, Jessner

New York Sun: "in fervent and energetic mood throughout the work" (Kolodin, p. 15)

14 March 1939

  • Met. Opera in Baltimore, Maryland: Walküre. Leinsdorf. Melchior, List, Schorr, Rethberg, Flagstad, Thorborg


[15-16 March 1939: German troops occupy the entirety of Czechoslovakia]

17 March 1939

  • Met. Opera in Boston: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Janssen, List, Flagstad, Thorborg

  • "Melchior...sings magnificently and while his acting is of the operatic rather than the realistic school, he had scenes of splendid power and deep sincerity." (Elinor Hughes, Boston Herald, p. 12)

20 March 1939

  • Met. Opera in Boston: Walküre. See 14 March 1939.

22 March 1939

  • Met. Opera in Boston: Tristan und Isolde. See 17 March 1939.

25 March 1939

  • Met. Opera in Boston: Tannhäuser. See 24 February 1939. BROADCAST

29 March 1939

  • Met. Opera in Cleveland, Ohio: Walküre. See 14 March 1939.

31 March 1939

  • Met. Opera in Cleveland, Ohio: Lohengrin. See 31 March 1939.

5 April 1939

  • Met. Opera: Parsifal. Bodanzky. Melchior, List, Schorr, Gabor, Cordon, Flagstad.

New York Herald Tribune: "[All the principals were] persuasive[ly] eloquent" (Perkins, p. 18)

New York Sun
: "More than usually conservative in his expenditure of voice, [although]...he gratified the ear by preserving a singing line...[,] and vanished behind the folds of a curtain for the greater part of the [first Grail] scene" (Thompson, p. 25)

New York Post: all principals were in "excellent voice" (p.12)

7 April 1939

  • Met. Opera: Parsifal. See 5 April 1939.

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior's Parsifal, marked by expressive singing, is for most of the course of the work one of his most convincing impersonations" (Perkins, p. 10)

8 April 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. See 17 March 1939. BROADCAST

"The fact that some of the principals have had an exacting schedule...was not always unnoticeable, but this did not detract from the general impression of concentration and absorption in the music and drama and the emotional intensity...[in which Melchior repeated his] sympathetic and impressive interpretation of Tristan's music...." (NY Herald Tribune?)

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior's Tristan was on a similiarly high plane [as Flagstad's]. His mezza voce, in particular, was more than ordinarily expressive." (Thompson, p. 17)

12 April 1939

  • Met. Opera in Dallas, Texas: Tannhäuser. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Janssen, Cordon, Thorborg, Rethberg.

  • "Lauritz Melchior...sang the title role with lusty, thrilling top voice, refined taste and unerring musicianship....The first heroic tenor of this Wagnerian day was in excellent condition and won all the plaudits possible for the ungrateful part." (John Rosenfield, Dallas Morning News, Sec. 2, p. 2)

15 April 1939

  • Met. Opera in New Orleans, Louisiana; Lohengrin. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Janssen, Cordon, Gabor, Rethberg, Thorborg.

  • "[The] clarity and superb authority [of his voice] were unforgettably present" (Cleveland Sessums, New Orleans Times Picayune p. 1)

17 April 1939

  • St. Louis Civic Opera: Walküre. Conductor (of the 55 piece orchestra): Laszlo Halasz. Melchior, Ernster, Destal, Jessner, Lawrence, Glaz

  • "Mr. Melchior's Siegmund had the enveloping authority that he emparts to all his Wagnerian roles...Handle[d] with the precision of one long practiced and complete with understanding....[,]broad-scaled energy and warmth." (Thos. B. Sherman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 3C)

24 April 1939

  • Special Appearance: home of James Speyer, New York. Ignace Strasfogel is accompanist. Mrs. Speyer is a Met patron and many other Met stars give benefit performances for her charity, Women's League for Animals, including Lawrence and Traubel.

30 April 1939

  • Recording session: RCA Victor. Wagner excerpts. Ormandy conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra.

2 May 1939

  • Met Opera: Lohengrin. Leinsdorf. Melchior, Schorr, List, Cehanovsky, Rethberg, Thorborg. For the special occasion of the New York World's Fair, there is an extended season of Wagner begins at the Met.

    New York Times: "Mr. Melchior, especially inspired...sang with unusual dramatic impulse and variety of color....His Lohengrin took full account of the traditions of the part, yet made them personal and communicative to the listener." (Downes, p 27)

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior's Lohengrin is knightly and commanding, and his responsibility as the dominant figure [because of the presence of Danish royals in the audience] seemed to give a new heightening to his dramatic and passionate conception of the mystical instrument of the grail." (Gilman, p. 18)

New York Sun: "Vocal hero of the evening was...Lauritz Melchior,...[who] was in robust voice and contributed much splendid singing as the Knight of the Grail.  The narrative of the last act has seldom carried greater conviction." (Thompson, p. 34)

8 May 1939

  • Met. Opera: Walküre. Leinsdorf. Melchior, List, Schorr, Jessner, Flagstad, Thorborg (unabridged Ring)

New York Times: "ringing and heroic utterances." (Downes, p. 28)

New York Journal American: "superb in its vocal delivery" (Bennett, p. 11)

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior was again in robust voice and sang many stirring phrases as Siegmund. With Mme. Flagstad he made the scene of the announcement of death more than ordinarily convincing." (Thompson, p. 29)

10 May 1939

  • Met. Opera: Siegfried. Bodanzky. Melchior, Witte, Schorr, Gabor, List, Bodanya, Thorborg, Flagstad (unabridged Ring)

    New York Times:
    "[Both principals] were in magnificent voice, and they sang [the final scene's duet] with a commanding grip and power.  More, they sang with a freshness of feeling and a fullness of passion that made one believe that they responded to this music as if it were new. Mr. Melchior traversed the role of Siegfried with unlimited resources." (Taubman, p. 35)

  • New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior, as the young Siegfried, is always a cause of wonder, even to those admirers who have heard him oftenest, for he reaches the terrific exactions of the final scene, after some three hours of unstinted singing in a gigantic role with a voice apparently unwearied and unworn." (Gilman, p. 22)

    New York Journal American: "a splendid portrait of the brave, sturdy youth...[the] voice rang out rich and clear even through the mighty climaxes of the full orchestra" (Bennett, p. 23)

12 May 1939

  • Met. Opera: Götterdämmerung. Bodanzky. Melchior, Huehn, List, Gabor, Flagstad, Thorborg, Manski (unabridged Ring)

New York Sun: "Though less given to big tone than on some other occasions, Lauritz Melchior sang Siegfried with his accustomed success." (Thompson, p. 28)

New York Herald Tribune
: "He caused us to wonder whether his "
Götterdämmerung" Siegfried is not the most remarkable of his achievements." (Gilman, p. 8)

New York Journal American: "Mr. Melchior's Siegfried (rated by some as his greatest role) reached rare heights of artistic achievement" (Bennett, p. 9)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior is quite at his best as the final Siegfried of the cycle" (Chotzinoff, p. 41)

New York Times: "The opera demands of several of its protagonists something of the classical strength and breadth of style that one associates with Keats' phrase, "the large utterances of the early gods," and Lauritz Melchior responds to this kind of music. His early scene with Bruennhilde, the narrative, before Hagen strikes, the mournful memory, as the hero's vision clears, of Bruennhilde, necessitate expression pathetic as well as heroic. Both aspects of the music are compassed by this tenor." (Downes, p. 15)

15 May 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. See 2 Dec 1938.

New York Herald Tribune: "Lauritz Melchior's embodiment of Tristan again rose to its most impressive plane in the anguished pages of the third act" (Bohm, p. 16)

New York Times: "Mr. Melchior's Tristan confidently reaches its height in the long scene of the third act, wherein Tristan dreams, laments and raves of his memories, and his feverish longing for Isolde. It is a challenge, vocal and dramatic, which Mr. Melchior meets magnificently, as he does that of Tristan's entrance in Act I." (Downes, p. 31)

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior won new glory as Tristan" (Thompson, p. 22)

17 May 1939

  • Met. Opera: Parsifal. Bodanzky. Melchior, List, Schorr, Gabor, Beattie, Flagstad

    New York Times:
    "Mr. Melchior's Parsifal again impressed by its finely considered detail in voice and action.  With remarkable control the tenor held his tones in just the right restraint until his great outcry "Amfortas! Die Wunde"... a climactic outburst rarely as entirely realized as it was on this occasion.  Whether as the "guileless fool" in all his simplicity in the first act, or as the mature and comprehending hero of the final division, Mr. Melchior was equally persuasive and satisfying."  (p.21, Straus)

New York Herald Tribune: "Mr. Melchior sang eloquently" (p. 19)

New York Journal American: "Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior gave their usual nonpareil efforts" (p. 16)

New York Sun: "Lauritz Melchior has rarely bettered the vocal quality he brought to his singing of the role last night, especially in the poignant and affecting "Amfortas! Die Wunde" (Thompson, p. 16)

23 May 1939

  • Met. Opera: Tristan und Isolde. Bodanzky. Melchior, Huehn, List, Flagstad, Doe.

New York Sun: "The consistency of their [Flagstad and Melchior's] singing as well as the quality of it has established a formidable standard" (Thompson, p. 30)

New York Herald Tribune:
"Mr. Melchior, not in his best form in the first two acts, rose to his accustomed plane in the third act" (Bohm, p. 18)

New York Post: "Mr. Melchior...has certainly been in better voice" (O'Gorman, p. 18)

New York Times:  "Interpreted as Mr. Melchior contrives, how amazing is this [Act III] music!....[That] act is given by Mr. Melchior with an intensity and a noble pathos bestowed upon it by no other artist of this day." (Downes, p.32)

24 May 1939-Melchior sails to England on the Queen Mary for what will be his final season at Covent Garden.



From the United States to England


30 May 1939

  • Covent Garden: Tristan und Isolde. Sir Thomas Beecham. Melchior, Janssen, Norman Walker, Lubin, Thorborg
    (RADIO: Act II broadcast)

Times: "Neither Mme. Lubin nor even Mr. Melchior could dominate [Beecham's] most merciless fortissimo....Mr. Melchior is not an impassioned Tristan, but he is safe, and exhales a sense of security, which last night was enhanced by greater legato than he generally employs in The Ring." (p. 10).

: "[Melchior seemed] the most disinterested of lovers [in Act II]; yet he was truly impassioned in the finale" (June 4, p. 2)

1 June 1939

  • Covent Garden: Otello. Vittorio Gui. Melchior, Caniglia, Basiola

    Times: "Mr. Melchior's Otello is familiar to Covent Garden audiences. It has the great virtues of simplicity and of pent-up force.  From the first one has the impression of a man in whom there is an enormous pressure of emotion ready to burst its bonds and destroy him and all about him. His style of singing lacks the finish that would be ideal for the part, and well as he began his "Farewell to Arms," he could not sustain it to its climax. That his Italian is far from secure may, perhaps, be accounted to him for verisimilitude, but it does detract from conviction in his acting" (p. 12).

5 June 1939

  • Covent Garden: Tristan und Isolde. Basil Cameron. See 30 May for cast.

7 June 1939

  • Covent Garden: Otello. See 1 June. (RADIO: the entire opera was broadcast)

9 June 1939

  • Covent Garden: Walküre. Beecham. Melchior, Ludwig Weber, Emil Treskow, Hilde Konetzni, Anny Konetzni, Thorborg 

Guardian: "[Melchior and Hilde Konetzni] did more justice to the dramatic moments...than the poetic ones" (Cardus, June 12, p. 11)

12 June 1939

  • Covent Garden: Siegfried. Beecham. Melchior, Laufkoetter, Emil Treskow, Stern, Norman Walker, Andreva, Edith Furmedge, Anny Konetzni. (Radio: Acts II and III broadcast)

Times: "The earlier acts of Siegfried depend so greatly on the hero that we were fortunate to have so lusty and resilient a representative of him as Herr Melchior, who seems quite prepared to carry the whole opera on his broad shoulders" (p. 14).

Observer: "staunch as ever" but not musically inspired (June 18, p. 12)

14 June 1939

  • Covent Garden: Götterdämmerung. Beecham. Melchior, Janssen, Weber, Stern, Anny Konetzni, Thorborg, Nezadal

Times: "Herr Melchior seemed tired, or at any rate to have abandoned the struggle with a too vociferous orchestra" (p. 12).

16 June 1939

  • Covent Garden: Tristan und Isolde. Beecham. See 30 May for cast. As fate would have it, this will be Melchior's last performance at Covent Garden, 15 years after his first. 

Times: "Herr Melchior's stalwart Tristan is best in those places where power of voice and a certain grave dignity of demeanor are called for. And though one must regret that he does not make more of such crucial phrases as "Lass mich sterben" in the duet in the second act, there is compensation in the nobility that he brings to "Wohin nun Tristan scheidet," and to the scene of his death" (p. 10). 

ca. 17 June 1939
  • Special Appearance, Schomberg House, Pall Mall, London. Melchior and Maggie Teyte are the entertainment for the Princesses' Helena Victoria and Marie Louise party this evening.

[1-3 September 1939- Germany invades Poland; England declares war against Germany]

?September/October 1939

[Opera News claims Melchior sings in Stockholm this Fall.]


To Denmark


8 September 1939

  • Concert, Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen. A Wagner concert.

15 September 1939

  • Recording Session, Danish HMV, Copenhagen: Melchior records Danish patriotic songs, anticipating next year's occupation of Denmark by Germany.

21 September 1939

  • Concert: Melchior attends the 100th anniversary celebration of København Universitet's student choir and performs songs by Hartmann and Lange-Müller with the chorus, a concert that is also broadcast on the RADIO.

22 September 1939

  • Concert: Bellahøj Park, Copenhagen. Melchior gives an open air concert this afternoon.

23 September 1939

  • Royal Danish Opera: Walküre. Act I is broadcast on RADIO.

Berlingske Tidende: "Far too rarely do we get the opportunity to fully enjoy Lauritz Melchior's stage art....Excerpt-concerts in evening dress are all very well, but Wagner belongs on the opera stage, and that is also Melchior's home.  Last night, we at last heard Melchior in one of his great roles, Siegmund, which is nothing less than a masterwork of dramatic singing and style-imbued dramatic acting. The doomed, hunted Völsung becomes in his hands a human creation of utmost illusion. No detail escapes his notice. Bar by bar, word by word, he follows the Master's intentions, shaping, creating a portrait of unforgettable value, a portrait whose strength and beauty redoubles with his voice's rare melodiousness and superior mastery of the technical aspects of the musical material. Ovations were given the splendid singer after the end of each act. Again and again he came out to accept the applause of his countrymen." ("P.G." p. 7).

27 September 1939

  • Royal Danish Opera: Lohengrin.  Egisto Tango. Local Danish singers.

Berlingske Tidende: "A sold-out house at double the [usual] price-last evening his public gave Lauritz Melchior their full support-unlike the performance of Walküre. It should have been the other way around, for Siegmund is a more congenial role for him than Lohengrin, with the latter's lyric scene in the bridal chamber-just as bearskins are more becoming to him than the grail knight's celestial silver chain mail.  Just the same, however, his Lohengrin was admirably secure in placement, in form and style both vocal and dramatic. The charm of his singing is in its unfailingly firm structure and and cutting timbre in the high notes....Curtain calls brought him back a couple times after every act...there was an ovation at the opera's wreath of laurels." (p.4)

28 September 1939

  • RADIO: Melchior gives a radio concert of excerpts from Parsifal in Copenhagen, Nikolai Malko conducting.

1 October 1939

  • Royal Danish Opera: Lohengrin. This performance, his last for Royal Danish Opera, will also be Melchior's "swan song" to the opera stages of Europe. He travels to Sweden to board the Kungsholm.

4 October 1939 Melchior, Mrs. Melchior, and Melchior's mother-in- law Maria Hacker sail today from Göteberg on the Kungsholm bound for New York. Melchior will not return to Europe for six years, until after the end of World War II.



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Last Updated February 19, 2009