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Benjamin Chee
The Flying Inkpot

"Recorded live on 11 January 1936 at the Metropolitan Opera, this performance is nigh memorable on several levels. A veritable "United Nations" of the world's leading singers had been assembled in New York which even Bayreuth would have been hard-pressed to beat: the Melbourne-born Marjorie Lawrence and Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior as Brnnhilde and Siegfried, Hungarian Fredrich Schorr as Gunther, German bass Ludwig Hofmann as the villainous Hagen, his compatriot Eduard Habich as a darkly-voiced Alberich, led by the Austrian conductor (and former assistant to Gustav Mahler at the Vienna State Opera) Artur Bodanzky.

This recording is also notable as Melchior's only surviving recording in the role of Siegfried. He was a noted Wagnerian Heldentenor in his time and sang Tristan well over two hundred times (one of which has been released on Naxos Historical 8.110008-10).

If only the original recording had been less roughshod... This release has been transferred and supervised by the skilled Ward Marston, but there's not much to be done if the original quality wasn't quite there to begin with. There are the expected passages of erratic volume levels and balance, with the orchestra often quite muddy in comparison to the singers (which is not really a gripe, being that the singers are what you'd want to listen out for, anyway)."

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