"The idea of a Wagner performance with such luminaries as Elisabeth Rethberg and Lauritz Melchior topping a cast that included Emanuel List is mouthwatering. Even the Herald was luxury casting (Leonard Warren, in fine voice). This 1940 broadcast ticks all the boxes. The Prelude to act I is simply stunning. It is not just the purity of the high strings, more the way in which that purity conjures up the realm of the spirituality of the Grail, of the chivalrous knight, even of the white swan (as it turns out, it could be heard in retrospect to prefigure the heavenly voice of Rethberg, too). This is a glowing performance..." - Fanfare, 2012
Earlier this year, to great acclaim, we released Erich Leinsdorf's brilliant early-60s Metropolitan Opera Wagner Ring Cycle. This week we turn the clock back two decades to January 1940 and Lohengrin. Leinsdorf arrived at the Met in 1937 and first stood in as conductor in January 1938, with a performance of Wagner's Die Walküre. Among the cast that night were three of the six soloists with whom he'd appear on 27 January 1940 for the present performance of Lohengrin: Elisabeth Rethberg, Kerstin Thorborg and Emanual List.
They were joined for that afternoon's live matinee performance by Julius Huehn, Leonard Warren and, in the title role, Lauritz Melchior, possibly the finest Heldentenor of all time. This new transfer from previously unused acetate discs offers superb XR remastered sound quality in Ambient Stereo. Fabulous!