Extracts from live Historic Opera Performances from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Die Walkure Bayreuth 1951
When the Bayreuth festival reopened after the war, recording engineers from Decca and EMI were there to record complete Wagner performances. Meistersinger and Parsifal were ultimately issued commercially but both ring cycles were also recorded, the first one under Knappertsbusch by Decca and the second one under Karajan by EMI. The Decca tapes were consigned to the vaults, partly due to producer John Culshaw's dislike of live recordings, and only Gotterdammerung seems to have been kept (and was later issued by Testament). EMI only issued Act 3 of Die Walkure but the entire ring remains in their archive. Rheingold and Siegfried later emerged on pirate labels but the complete Walkure has not been released. The Bayreuth performances of 1951 were broadcast throughout Europe and someone managed to capture this off-air extract from Act 1 of Die Walkure, the final 20 minutes. This is the earliest recording of Leonie Rysanek's Sieglinde, a part she would make her own for a large part of the 1950s and 1960s. Her trademark scream as Siegmund pulls the sword from the tree, famously heard on the Bohm live Bayreuth recordings from 1966/7 is absent here, so clearly was something later added to her characterisation. Treptow is a very fine Siegmund.