Lisa Hirsch addressed members of the Wagner Society of Northern California on Wagner tenors represented on early 20th century recordings. She gave capsule biographies of over a dozen singers, played recordings from her CD collection, & provided circumspect commentary. Lauritz Melchior is of course unrivaled, but it was interesting to hear nearly comparable singers also born in the 19th century & trained before there was Wagner specialization & the Bayreuth Bark. The attendees were sometimes taken aback to hear Wagner sung in Italian, French & Russian. Desider Matray's awkward Tannhäuser made some of us wince, & people laughed when Leo Slezak flubbed Siegfried's forging song. I liked Georges Thill's French-speaking Lohengrin.
The Wagner Society weirdly convenes at the Jewish Community Center. The meeting began with news that the Bayreuth Festival will resume allocation of tickets to Wagner Societies in 2013. There was a headcount of those who had seen SF Opera's current Lohengrin more than once already. Ms. Hirsch received a Stephen Fry DVD & a Valkyrie floaty pen at the end of her talk, & the Q&A was still going when I left the event over 2 and a half hours after it began.
§ Lauritz Melchior in Context
Lauritz Melchior: Sui Generis or the Best of a Good Bunch?
Wagner Society of Northern California
Nov 3 2012 1:00 pm
§ Singers discussed: Lauritz Melchior, Paul Franz, Jacques Urlus, Giuseppe Borgatti, Isadoro Fagoaga, Ivan Ershov, Francisco Viñas, Leo Slezak, Hermann Winkelmann, César Vezzani, Walter Widdop, Georges Thill, Miguel Fleta, Desider Matray, Alberto Remedios