[Met Performance] CID:236370

Tristan und Isolde
Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, January 30, 1974

Debut : Michèle Vilma

Tristan und Isolde (408)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Jon Vickers

Birgit Nilsson

William Dooley

Michèle Vilma [Debut]

King Marke
Paul Plishka

William Lewis

Sailor's Voice
Raymond Gibbs

Nico Castel

Louis Sgarro

Erich Leinsdorf

Review 1:

Speight Jenkins in the New York Post
Vickers and Nilsson as Tristan and Isolde

For fourteen years, opera lovers have wanted to hear Birgit Nilsson sing Isolde to Jon Vickers' Tristan, It finally happened, and for once in this imperfect world the event lived up to every expectation. Both were in their top voice, the blend of timbre can be equaled in recent years only by the combination of Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Home, and they completely identified with their roles.


Every fault noted when Vickers sang his first Met Tristan last Saturday afternoon as if by magic disappeared. He did not croon; he eliminated any suggestion of mannered singing; and he simply broke your heart.


His Tristan, in fact, can and must be compared to the greatest interpreters of that role in the past: he?dominated the music of the third act with golden- throated passionate, sound and yet was never anything but musical. His singing in the love duet combined sensuality, lyricism and his own special gentleness. Dramatically, he lived the role to a frightening degree.

??????? The glory of Birgit Nilsson's Isolde has been with us now for fourteen years. How can she steadily offer more? How can each performance (and there have been 30 of them at the Met) seem to give a new insight?


Miss Nilsson’s Isolde is a combination of power, intensity, musical phrasing, imperiousness, passionate love and a technique that does exactly what she wants. The high B-naturals in Act I, the blazing curse, the phrasing within the love duet and the overwhelming Liebestod stand as testimony to the one real Isolde of this generation. She is unique.

? Night of Nights

Paul Plishka sang his first King Marke on this night of nights and gave evidence of a real future in German opera if he so desires. A basso cantante with a lot of color and dramatic possibility, he made Marke’s lament seem short (always the test, and sang beautifully throughout.


A French mezzo, Michele Vilma, made her Metropolitan debut as Brangäne. No doubt overwhelmed by the occasion, her voice sounded under stress; she should be evaluated on a saner night.


Erich Leinsdorf conducted with passion, and with a care for details in Wagner's score sometimes missed. Along with everyone else the conductor was caught up in the event, and in the incredible performances. He and his orchestra responded.

??? Rapt Silence??

Fortunately, the audience, a non-subscription one, lived up to its responsibility as well. In their seats before the prelude, they maintained a rapt silence and not one person (at least in the orchestra section) left before the final curtain.


The cheers went on and on, confetti flew and somehow, at least to this reviewer, the future of opera and the Metropolitan looked a little brighter. As long as there can be a night such as this "Tristan and Isolde," there has to be a continually refreshed army fighting to keep, this incredibly impractical entertainment called opera alive. It's worth it.

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