[Met Performance] CID:236180

Tristan und Isolde
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, January 11, 1974

Tristan und Isolde (404)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Jess Thomas

Klara Barlow

William Dooley

Mignon Dunn

King Marke
John Macurdy

William Lewis

Sailor's Voice
Raymond Gibbs

Nico Castel

Louis Sgarro

Erich Leinsdorf

August Everding

Günther Schneider-Siemssen

Tristan und Isolde received eight performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times

Klara Barlow, the soprano from Brooklyn, seized opportunity by the throat last night and all but throttled it. This was Miss Barlow's big chance, stepping into the role of Isolde after a week that saw much maneuvering and some backbiting at the house. She was determined to show the world, and a certain tenor in particular, that she could hold her own in any company. And she did.

Originally Jon Vickers and Catarina Ligendza were to be the two leading singers in the first "Tristan and Isolde" of the season. Miss Ligendza canceled because of illness. Then Mr. Vickers bowed out, giving a confusing variety of reasons.... Jess Thomas, who had been scheduled to sing several Tristans later this season, gracefully stepped in to help out the Metropolitan.

Anyway, it was an unhappy week at the Metropolitan Opera, what with its music director, Rafael Kubelik, in Europe; with Erich Leinsdorf, who conducted last night's performance, raising all kinds of questions about the Metropolitan's musical policy; and with sheer worry about Miss Barlow's ability to take over the role. She has sung at the Metropolitan, was understudy to Birgit Nilsson's Isolde two years ago, and has sung the role in Europe. But she never before had done it at an important house

It turned out to be a happy ending, especially for Miss Barlow. First of all, she was a svelte Isolde, and one does not remember a more attractive one physically. She moved well (though with a few traces of the arms-outstretched school) and acted with intensity and even temperament. One especially nice touch in an essentially static opera: the way she circled Tristan, like a tigress, holding the chalice.

As for the all-important matter of voice, it will come as no surprise to learn that Miss Barlow does not have the steamwhistle characteristics of the big Wagnerian sopranos of past and present. What she does have is a voice of enough power to ride over the orchestra (Mr. Leinsdorf could have been a little more considerate in some sections of the score). The voice is clearly produced, nicely colored and handled in a sensitive way.

Miss Barlow made a very feminine thing of her Isolde, something on the order of what Frida Leider used to do. If she did not have Miss Leider's vocal majesty, she had much the same instinct in making Isolde a woman rather than a symbol. It was really a well-sung, sensitive Isolde that Miss Barlow gave, and nothing she had previously done in this city had suggested this kind of work. Certain it is that she sang the performance of her life.

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