Der fliegende Holländer

Georg Solti
Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra
14 May 1976
Carnegie Hall New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
DalandMartti Talvela
SentaJanis Martin
ErikRené Kollo
MaryIsola Jones
Der Steuermann DalandsWerner Krenn
Der HolländerNorman Bailey
New York Times

Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra maintained tradition by presenting an opera in concert form last night in Carnegie Hall. Ever since Sir Georg came to New York with “Das Rheingold,” he has been careful to devote one of his annual appearances here to an opera, generally a German one.

This time it was all of Wagner’s “Der fliegende Hollander.” It was a foregone conclusion that it would be a success. For some years now Sir Georg and his great orchestra have been culture heroes in New York, and they can do no wrong. At the conclusion of the opera last night there were prolonged cheering, stamping, whistles and bravos. All of the partici pants, of course, shared in the enthusiasm. But Sir Georg was the particular hero.

Local opera managers might be excused if they picketed Carnegie Hall on these occasions. It is manifestly unfair. Sir Georg has at his disposal a better orchestra than any opera house in the world, Vienna included, can assemble. He can pick his soloists for the particular occasion. He does not have to worry about stage problems while giving opera in concert form. He can have plenty of rehearsal. In Carnegie Hall he has an auditorium with exceptionally live acoustics. Small wonder that performances like this make the real opera house sound somewhat dim.

About those acoustics: Can Georg have forgotten that the difference between heavy volume and sheer noise can sometimes be a hairline distinction? He conducted the orchestra with such enthusiasm that the results occasionally approached aural pain. He has one of the most powerful orchestras in the business — those brasses!—and is himself an ardent, impetuous musician. All that, together with Carnegie Hall sound, made for some very noisy happenings during the evening.

•Of course there were the usual Chicago Orchestra felicities — the responsiveness of the orchestra and its rich color; the impeccable attacks and releases; the rhythmic spirit that animates all of the Solti performances; the ardent Romanticism that is the keynote of his particular style.

But this is Romanticism with control; a Romanticism tempered with a classic kind of elegance. That is what differentiates Sir Georg’s conducting from that of the wild Romantics, who tend to drool over music and push phrases out of shape. Sir Georg never does that.

A strong group of singers and the admirable Chicago Symphony Chorus participated in this performance. Norman Bailey and Janis Martin were the two principal singers. Mr. Bailey does not have the most sensuous sound; his baritone is even dry and rough at times. What he does have is a mixture of musicianship, dignity and style that keeps the listener rooted.

•Miss Martin, an American soprano originally from California, has sung at the Metropolitan Opera and in recent years has been making a secure career in Europe. She sang an impressive Senta; her voice was appealing, feminine (as opposed to the teamwhistle attacks of some Wagnerian sopranos), almost always right on pitch, and capable of riding the Solti orchestral blasts when necessary.

There was much interest in René Kollo, who sang the role of Eric. A few years ago Mr. KoIlo was being touted as the new hope of heldentenors. Then he seemed to go through a bad period. If this performance was any indication, he is in form again. Certainly his singing sounded much more secure than it has been on some recent records. He produced a firm, manly sound without fighting for volume. It is not, one should think, a Siegfried voice, but should be able to take in such roles as Siegmund.

The fourth principal, Martti Talvela, was a superb Daland. He is one of the world’s outstanding bassos, and he really sings in a smooth, cantabile, line. None of those Bayreuth barks for him. Werner Krenn, who was ill, nevertheless bravely went on as the Steersman, and Isola Jones was a fine Mary. It was a great evening. At the end of each of these Solti exploits, one always wonders how he is going to top it the next time around, but he always manages to do so.

Harold C. Schonberg | May 15, 1976

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Media Type/Label
Technical Specifications
192 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 182 MByte (MP3)
In-house recording
A couple of days later a studio recording with the same cast was produced in Chicago