(7.) Kirsten Flagstad
, Kirsten Flagstad
: The Supreme Wagnerian Soprano, Warner Classics 4553462 (2010).
The Covent Garden company,also at the Royal Court as well as the Empire,fielded such legendary talents as Alfredo Kraus,Constance Shacklock and Kirsten Flagstad
While a recording may never compete with hearing Kirsten Flagstad
or Yehudi Menuhin live, what dancegoer wouldn't love to catch even a glimpse of Edward Villella in Prodigal Son or Nora Kaye in Pillar of Fire?
In between you'll sample the imperishable gifts of such greats as Maria Callas and Magda Olivero (both in Tosca) as well as Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price, Rosa Ponselle (in her hilarious MGM screen test), Kirsten Flagstad
, and Renata Tebaldi, who, with the help of Jussi Bjorling, feasts on Act I of La Boheme (you won't believe how Puccini transforms two unprepossessing middle-aged people into the world's most ardent young lovers).
Listening to artists like Rosa Ponselle, Franco Corelli and Kirsten Flagstad
singing pieces like "I get a kick out of you" and "Shenandoah" is a thrill.
Moreover, Met On Demand offers only complete performances thus far, which robs us of the opportunity to experience Kirsten Flagstad
's transcendent Met debut in 1935 in the role of Sieglinde, or other partially preserved broadcasts offering such elusive treasures as the Donna Anna and Don Ottavio of Rosa Ponselle and Tito Schipa in Mozart's Don Giovanni, or the beloved Lucrezia Bori's farewell to the Met in Manon.
It played twice nightly, with its Dido - the great Norwegian Wagnerian soprano Kirsten Flagstad
, no less - demanding nothing more than a pint of stout for each of her appearances (she also adored Gilbert and Sullivan, but that's another story).
When I first went to hear Wagner, the reigning soprano was Kirsten Flagstad
. "Ah, but you should have heard Frida Leider!" I was told.
Among the singers are George London (and later Hans Hotter) as Wotan, Kirsten Flagstad
as Fricka, Birgit Nilsson as Brunhilde, Joan Sutherland as the Wood Bird, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Gauter, and Christa Ludwig as Waltraute.
It didn't stem so much from revisiting this Ring's stellar cast--though I'm guessing some of the now-historic singers like Hans Hotter, Gustav Neidlinger, Paul Kuen, George London, Birgit Nilsson and Kirsten Flagstad
, carefully recorded in good sound, are going to come as a nice surprise to a new generation of listeners.
As a music critic Thomson attended and reported on performances of song recitals and operas involving such noted singers as Maggie Teyte, Victoria de los Angeles, Licia Albanese, Lawrence Tibbett, Ezio Pinza, Lauritz Melchior, Lotte Lehmann, Margaret Harshaw, Bidu Sayao, Mary Garden, Martial Singher, Kirsten Flagstad
, Alexander Kipnis, Marian Anderson, John Charles Thomas, and Jennie Tourel.
Its impact comes not only from Furtwangler's conducting of an inspired Philharmonia Orchestra, still then in the early years of its founding, but also from the involving and sympathetic singing of the inimitable Kirsten Flagstad
as Isolde and Ludwig Suthaus' heroic Tristan.