Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Ring (of the Nibelung)
I want to tell you about this broadcast, which was recorded on December 6, 1941. The announcer mentioned that it might suffer from issues involved with the sound recording technology of the time. But the date really knocked me out! The DAY before Pearl Harbor! It reminded me of the way I felt on Sept. 11, 2001. When my son called me early in the morning and told me to turn on the TV, I did. And watched the towers fall, and fall again, and the white particulate smoke billow down the canyons between skyscrapers. And the people running. I said to my son then: Nothing will ever be the same. And it hasn't been.
I imagined the people who saw that opera performance getting up on Dec 7th, and telling their kids over brunch what a great live performance they had seen. The legendary Erich Leinsdorf conducted; Lauritz Melchior and Helen Traubel were two stars in the superb cast. Later, the family all gathered around the radio and listened to news about Pearl Harbor--and the voice of FDR. And nothing was ever the same. We still call it THE war.
The major recorded sound issue I noticed on this recording was that the horns sounded bad. I missed the richness of the sound. If anyone knows why this should be when the rest of the instruments sounded better, please leave a comment and let me know.
I think that sometimes the tempo of the music was a little slower than I have heard in other recordings, which seemed right. But what I really want to record is how beautiful the sound of the voices was. When I was growing up, Helen Traubel was a very famous star. She made appearances in movies and got lots of coverage in Life Magazine. She was beginning to become somewhat of a familiar joke, with the molded breastplate, braids and that Teutonic helmet with wings on it. This recording made something very clear to me. There was a sweetness, an effortless, non-shrieky sound to Brunnhilde's music. It was quite different than others I have heard. They were good, but this was GORGEOUS. Melchior's Siegmund was transcendent, and also of a beautiful vocal quality, The Wotan of Friedrich Schorr was spectacular and also unstrained and melodic. Well, I can tell you, the whole thing made me very happy. Good night. It's pretty late, since it lasted until afte midnight; I stayed up for every note!
at 1:00 AM