WAGNER AT THE MET
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WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman
Hans Hotter (Dutchman). Sven Nilsson (Daland). Thomas Hayward (Steersman). Astrid Varnay (Senta). Hertha Glaz (Mary). Set Svanholm (Erik). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Fritz Reiner, cond.(Dec. 30, 1950)

WAGNER: Tannhäuser
Astrid Varnay (Venus). Ramón Vinay (Tannnhäuser). Roberta Peters (Shepherd). Jerome Hines (Landgrave). Brian Sullivan (Walther). Clifford Harvuot (Biterolf). George London (Wolfram). Margaret Harshaw (Elisabeth) Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Georg Szell, cond. (Jan. 9, 1954).

WAGNER: Das Rheingold
Erna Berger (Woglinde). Lucine Amara (Wellgunde). Hertha Glaz (Flosshilde). Lawrence Davidson (Alberigh). Margaret Harshaw (Fricka). Hans Hotter (Wotan). Jarmila Novotna (Freia). Jerome Hines (Fasolt). Dezso Ernster (Fafner). Brian Sullivan (Froh). Osie Hawkins (Donner). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Fritz Stiedry, cond. (Jan. 27, 1951).

WAGNER: Die Walküre
Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund). Marjorie Lawrence (Sieglinde). Emanuel List (Hunding). Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde). Julius Huehn (Wotan). Krin Branzell (Fricka). Helen Olheim, Ira Petina, Lucielle Browning,Thelma Votipka, Doropthea Manski, Doris Doe, Anna Kaskas, Maxine Stellman (Valkyries). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Erich Leinsdorf, cond. (Feb. 17, 1940).

WAGNER: Siegfried
Lauritz Melchior (Siefried). Kirsten Flagstad (Brünnhilde). Friedrich Schorr (Wanderer). Emmanel List (Fafner). Karl Laufkötler (Mime). Eduard Habich (Alberich). Kirsten Thorborg (Erda). Stella Andreva (Forest Bird). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Artur Bodanzky, cond. (Jan. 30, 1937).

WAGNER: Die Götterdämmerung
Marjorie Lawrence (Brünnhilde). Lauritz Melchior (Siegfried). Friedrich Schorr (Gunther). Ludwig Hoffman (Hagen). Dorothea Manski (Gutrune). Katheryn Meisle (Waltraute). Eduard Habich (Alberich). Editha Fleischer (Woglinde). Doris Doe, Irra Petina, Dorothea Manski (Norns). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Artur Bodanzky, cond. (Jan. 11, 1936).

WAGNER: Tristan und Isolde
Kirsten Flagstad (Isolde). Lauritz Melchior (Tristan).Karin Branzell (Brangäne). Julius Huehn (Kurwenal). Emmanuel List (King Marke). Arnold Gabor (Melot). Louis D'Angelo (Steersman). Karl Laufkötter (Shepherd). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Artur Bodanzky, cond. (April 16, 1938).

WAGNER: Lohengrin
Lauritz Melchior (Lohengrin). Kersten Thorborg (Ortrud). Mck Harrell (The King's Herald). Norman Cordon (King Henry). Alexander Sved (Telramund). Emery Darcy, John Duydley, George Cehanovsky, Lansing Hatfield (Nobles). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Erich Leinsdorf, cond. (Jan. 2, 1943)

WAGNER: Die Meistersinger von Nürenberg
Hans Hopf (Walther). Victoria de los Angeles (Eva). Hertha Glaz (Magdalene). Richard Helm (David). Josef Greindl (Pogner). Gerhard Pechner (Beckmesser). Paul Schöffler (Hans Sachs). Thomas Hayward (Vogelgesang).Mack Harrell (Kothner). Osie Hawkins (Ortel). Alessio De Paolis (Zorn). Joseph Folmer (Moser). Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orch/Fritz Reiner, cond. (Jan 10, 1953)

Those who love Wagner MUST own this remarkable 25-disk bargain set. These broadcasts preserve some of the great legendary Wagner voices of the past with some thrilling performances particularly by Lauritz Melchior Kirsten Flagstad and Hans Hotter. Occasionally there are minor cuts in the scores, customary at the time, but these will not concern listeners. The excitement of live performance is ever present. About a decade ago, this site mentioned some previous issues of three of the same broadcasts on the Naxos label (Flying Dutchman, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung) (REVIEW), not available in the U. S. for copyright reasons. . Those were admirable restorations by Mark Obert-Thorn, and it is unfortunate he was not also involved in this new set. Grace Rowe, Restoration Producer at the Met, describes the many problems involved with dealing with vintage recording sources, and overall they have done a respectable job. However, often voices are strident, and there is more than a touch of wow and flutter noticeable usually in instrumental passages. It is unfortunate that Pristine Audio's XR remastering was not involved—but still what we have here is an issue of tremendous interest for collectors. It is packaged rather oddly. There are nine cardboard jackets each containing 2 to 2 disks depending on the opera, and these jackets fit into a larger box. The problem is that the sleeves aren't quite big enough and it is difficult to remove each disk, with the danger of scratching always present. Each jacket contains all pertinent information on the opera it contains, but all program notes are included in a 130-page booklet which also includes a number of memorable photos. Much to enjoy here and the price could hardly be more reasonable—about $3 per disk!! Don't miss it, in spite of its minor flaws.

R.E.B. (June 2013)