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David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2007

The male menopause does some strange things, in the case of the great Wagnerian tenor, Lauritz Melchior, he tried to reinvent his overweight ageing frame as a matinee idol. The very thought of this star of the Metropolitan Opera crooning his way through popular songs was to bring him considerable oddball popularity in radio and films. That he was not very good at his new style is here much in evidence, yet in a way it made a fitting end to a strange career that had started out as a baritone of promise, moved to a tenor singing the Italian repertoire with rather less success. A period of vocal retraining before being reshaped as the greatest heldentenor of his era, his number of appearances being quite prodigious. Of course Richard Tauber did much the same with a voice no more suited to this lightweight repertoire than Melchior, the difference being Tauber's feel for the music totally eluded the great Dane. He certainly tries to change his voice as he goes through ballads and lieder eventually arriving at Puccini and Leoncavallo in performances that are pure oddities. Though made in the mid-1940's when editing was far from common there appears that some took place with the voice changing position. In his notes the restoration engineer speaks of the difficulty in finding satisfactory pressings, but he has done a wonderful job in resuscitating them.





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