LAWRENCE Opera Recordings
REYER: "Salut, splendeur du jour" and "O palais radieux" from Sigurd; WAGNER: "Allons! debout! compagne de ma honte" (with Martial Singher), and "Elsa!...Qui vient?"(with Yvonne Brothier) from Lohengrin; "Bride ton cheval, fille vaillante (with Jean Claverie), "Ai-je à ce point mÈritÈ qu'on me blâme" from Die Walküre, "Qu'un böcher s'ÈlËve, là bas" from G–tterd”mmerung; STRAUSS: "Tu n'as pas voulu" from Salome.
Marjorie Lawrence, soprano; Pasdeloup Orch/Piero Coppola, cond.
PREISER 89011 (F) (ADD) TT: 69:51
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The life of soprano Marjorie Lawrence was glamorously presented in the 1955 MGM CinemaScope film Interrupted Melody in which she was played by Eleanor Parker (who received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal). Glenn Ford was her understanding husband, Dr. Thomas King. The many opera sequences (excerpts from Don Carlos, Samson and Delilah, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Carmen, Il trovatore, Tristan and Isolde and G–tterd”mmerung) as well as Waltzing Matilda and Over the Rainbow, were magnificently sung by Eileen Farrell. What a combination - the voice of the Farrell and the beauty of Parker! This is an extraordinary film for opera lovers which won an Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay. It's available on laser and VHS, not yet on DVD. The soundtrack has yet to be issued on CD. The original LP issue (MGM E 3185) has been out of print for decades. The LP states that performances, from the soundtrack of the film, feature "Vocal Soloists" with the MGM Studio Orchestra conducted by Walter Ducloux. No mention of Eileen Farrell except on the record label.
Marjorie Lawrence's career unfortunately lasted only about a decade. She started at the top and stayed there. Born February 17, 1909 near Melborne, Australia, she responded quickly to her initial training, winning all possible prizes. After this she studied in Paris making her debut in 1932 in Monte Carlo as Elisabeth in Tannh”user (with Georges Thill). In 1933 she made a sensational debut at the Paris OpÈra Comique as Ortrud in Lohengrin, later that season singing Brünnhilde, Salome in Massenet's HÈrodiade, Rachael in La Juive, Aida, and in the world premiere of Canteloube's long-forgotten Vercingetorix. The following year she added Donna Anna, Strauss' Salome and Reyer's Sigurd to her repertory. In 1934 she made her Met debut as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre (with Lauritz Melchior, Friedrich Schorr, Emanuel List and Elisabeth Rethberg) to great acclaim, and in 1938 the Met mounted a new production of Salome for her.
Her career took a tragic turn when it was found she had infantile paralysis. She defied the disease (her courageous fight against it is vividly depicted in the film) and was able to return to singing as her voice was not affected by the disease. In 1942, in a special Met production in which she could be seated throughout the performance, she sang Venus in Tannh”user with Melchior, and later Isolde at the Met as well as in Montreal, and Amneris at the Paris opera while seated. Highly patriotic, she gave many performances for the military, a magnificent example of courage and generosity. She died January 10, 1979 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Preiser's CD is the only listing in Schwann/Opus for Marjorie Lawrence, featuring recordings made in France 1933-1934 just prior to her debut at the Met. I do not know what else Lawrence might have recorded, but some choices on this CD are rather strange. The two arias from Sigurd are fascinating and beautifully sung. It also is fascinating to hear the excerpts from Lohengrin and Walküre, although the rather long orchestral passages as played by the French orchestra are of limited interest. However, this is an opportunity to hear fine performances of the final scenes from G–tterd”mmerung and Salome sung in French; both were Lawrence favoritesshe must have been a dynamic figure on stage.
No texts and rather limited notesstill of interest for vocal collectorsa reminder of this magnificent soprano who today seems to be forgotten.
R.E.B. (Jan. 2001)