On November 13th, 1936, Fritz Reiner led the San Francisco Opera in Wagner’s Die Walküre, with a dream cast. NBC aired only the second act, the only one of the opera’s three in which all the principals appear. There are numerous cuts, but none are serious. As Wotan, the veteran Friedrich Schorr’s top notes are shot, but his authority shines through the gritty, AM radio sonics. Both Lotte Lehmann and Lauritz Melchior are in radiant voice as the Walsung twins, and Hunding’s few lines hint at Emanuel List’s menacing solidity in this role. Less known than her castmates, Kathryn Meisle is no slouch as Fricka. The real reason you’ll want this recording, though, is for Kirsten Flagstad’s Brunnhilde, captured in the singer’s glorious prime.Read more You get a strong sense of how her powerful voice carried and sustained in the opera house. Just as Wotan dispatches Hunding, announcer Marcia Davenport brings the broadcast to an end, describing an imaginary, descending curtain. Arthur Bloomfield’s annotations are informative and fun to read. A golden age souvenir for dedicated Wagner connoisseurs.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com reviewing this performance previously reissued as Music & Arts 1048Read less
Works on This Recording
Die Walküre: Act 2by Richard Wagner Performer:
Lotte Lehmann (Soprano),
Kathryn Meisle (Mezzo Soprano),
Lauritz Melchior (Tenor),
Friedrich Schorr (Bass Baritone),
Emanuel List (Bass),
Kirsten Flagstad (Soprano)
San Francisco Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1856; Germany Date of Recording: 11/13/1936 Venue: Live San Francisco, California Length: 67 Minutes 14 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
The greatest ValkyreSeptember 14, 2016By Charles Thompson (La Mesa, CA)See All My Reviews"The Flagstad voice has never been equalled , or really even approached. Even Nilsson's steely soprano that could soar easily over a full Wagnerian orchestra never matched that of Flagstad's, the latter not only rising above the orchestra but penetrating through it with an unearthly beauty and golden tone that, in my opinion, has never been seen before or since. Even this recording does not do justice to the Flagstad voice because of the recording techniques of the time, but there are moments when the glory of that magnificent soprano reminds those who heard it live of its amplitude and beauty of tone. If you like this short piece of the "Ring," get the Furtwangler Milan 1950 recording of the whole cycle. Though past her prime, Flagstad's Brunnhilde still dwarfs all the rest."Report Abuse
Greatly improved soundMarch 11, 2014By Christopher D. (Kokomo, IN)See All My Reviews"I don't know where Music and Arts found their new source, but this legendary performance is now much more open and lifelike in sound than it's ever been before. It's still 1930's broadcast sound but it's no longer an obstacle. And the performance! The cast has never been surpassed. Flagstad is stunning, far more than her studio recordings. At the opening of the act you can tell why she drove people to frenzy as her immense, gorgeous sound bounces off the back wall of the opera house. Schorr has a dark, authoritative sound and makes Wotan a character starting with his opening phrases (no Wotan has ever sounded so dismissive as he brushes off the idea of Hunding in Valhalla). The high F is dry and hard, but everything else is wonderful. Melchior is in glorious voice and expresses Siegmund's changing moods of defiance, sadness, love; Lehmann was never bettered in Sieglinde's hysterical fear. Reiner conducts with a combination of order and passion, making that San Francisco orchestra sound like a great band, and everything falls into place - except the last minute of the act, cut off by the network as time ran out (the Heidi Game of opera!)"Report Abuse