Die Walküre

Erich Leinsdorf
New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
23 December 1961
Metropolitan Opera House New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
SiegmundJon Vickers
HundingErnst Wiemann
WotanOtto Edelmann
SieglindeGladys Kuchta
BrünnhildeBirgit Nilsson
FrickaIrene Dalis
HelmwigeHeidi Krall
GerhildeCarlotta Ordassy
OrtlindeMartina Arroyo
WaltrauteMignon Dunn
SiegruneHelen Vanni
GrimgerdeMary MacKenzie
SchwertleiteGladys Kriese
RoßweißeMargaret Roggero
Musical America

This first performance of the season of “Die Walküre” strengthened the conviction that the Metropolitan’s current Ring series was to be a memorable artistic achievement and a public triumph. Once again, Erich Leinsdorf and the orchestra won some of the major ovations, and once again the audience gave every evidence of enjoying intently every measure of the unmutilated score.

New to their roles at the Metropolitan were Miss Kuchta, Mr. Wiemann, Miss Arroyo, Miss MacKenzie and Miss Kriese. Miss Kuchta was an admirable Sieglinde and a welcome addition to the new generation of first-rate Wagnerian singers that is making itself known at the Metropolitan. Her voice was fresh and appealing in quality; she acted the role with intelligence; and when her great outburst in Act III came, she was ready for it.

Though ideally one would like a heavier voice and more sinister characterization than Mr. Wiemann’s, his Hunding was well conceived and projected.

To the three new Valkyries, as well as to their sisters, should go hearty congratulations. It is vital to the opera that these roles should be taken by able singers and it was a delight to hear their fascinating music uncut and thrillingly sung.

Though not as imposing as some Wotans of fairly recent memory, Mr. Edelmann is a sterling artist, and he handled the vocal difficulties he encountered in the last act with the assurance of a veteran. A memory slip only made things more troublesome, but there was much to praise in his performance as a whole.

Miss Dalis was so beautiful a Fricka that it was hard to understand Wotan’s notorious infidelities, but she was careful to bring out the goddess’s unpleasant moral qualities. The looks which she exchanged with Brünnhilde in Act II spoke volumes. Her voice was especially lovely in the lyric passages, but she was also magnificent in the moments of vehemence and challenge.

Once again, one rejoiced that Miss Nilsson’s glorious voice was given to a splendid musician and skilled actress who could create for us the Brünnhilde of Wagner’s imagination. To many of the younger generation her artistry will bring a new understanding of Wagner.

As for Mr. Vicker’s Siegmund, it is the best I have ever encountered. He cannot make the walls of the Metropolitan bulge with the “Wälse, Wälse,” as Melchior used to, but his singing and acting of the role as a whole have a romantic glow and a musical finish that are well nigh unique.

The Simonson settings for the last three operas of the Ring are all deplorable, and one can only hope that they will wear out rapidly. Nathaniel Merrill’s direction, however, showed a genuine understanding of Wagner’s intentions. This performance was so inspired that it seemed short.

Robert Sabin

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Lyric Distribution
Technical Specifications
346 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 494 MByte (flac)
Matinee broadcast
A production by Herbert Graf (1948)
This recording is part of a complete Ring cycle.