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.
12:26:14 AM, 4 May 2016
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