- Lauritz Melchior
Lauritz Melchior (
March 20, 1890– March 18, 1973) was a Danish and later American opera singer. He was the pre-eminent Wagnerian tenor of the late 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and has since come to be considered the quintessence of his voice type.
Born Lauritz Lebrecht Hommel Melchior in
Copenhagen, Denmark, the young Melchior was a boy sopranoand amateur singer before starting his first operatic vocal studies under Paul Bang at the Royal Opera School in Copenhagen at the age of 18 in 1908.
In 1913, Melchior made his debut in the baritone role of Silvio in
Ruggero Leoncavallo's " Pagliacci" at the Royal Theatre(Det Kongelige Teater) in Copenhagen. He sang mostly secondary baritone and bass roles for the Royal Danish Opera and provincial Scandianavian opera companies for the next few years.
One night, while on tour, Melchior helped an ailing soprano performing in "
Il trovatore" by singing a high C in the Act IV Leonora-di Luna duet. The Azucena of that performance, the American contralto Mme Charles Cahier, was impressed by the tone she had heard and gave her young colleague sound advice: he was no baritone, but a tenor "with the lid on." She even wrote to the Royal Opera pleading that Melchior be given a sabbatical and a stipend to restudy his voice. This he did between 1917 and 1918, taking lessons from the noted Danish tenor Vilhelm Herold(1865-1937) who had sung Wagnerian roles in Covent Garden, Chicago and elsewhere from 1900 to 1915. This proved to be a turning point in Melchior's career. His high baritone voice was recast into that of a low tenor, but with a strong high extension. His second debut was on 8 October, 1918in the title role of " Tannhäuser", also at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen.
In 1920, Melchior visited
Englandto sing in an experimental radio broadcast to the Scandinavian capital cities from the Marconi station in Chelmsford. From 1920, Melchior was a frequent performer in London, appearing at Sir Henry Joseph Wood's Promenade Concertsin Queens Hall. While at London he met the popular novelist and passionate Wagnerite Hugh Walpole, who provided the fledgling Heldentenorwith financial aid. Additional studies under Victor Beigel, Ernst Grenzebach and the legendary dramatic soprano of the Vienna Court Opera, Anna Bahr von Mildenburg, kept Melchior occupied until 1923. Word of his talent spread and was heard of by Cosima and Siegfried Wagnerat Bayreuth. There the re-opening of the Festival for 1924 was under preparation. Melchior was engaged to sing Siegmund and Parsifal. This prestigious contract opened the way to several other appearances such as a Wagner concert with Frida Leiderin Berlinin 1923. Around this time several acoustic records were cut for Polydor.
May 14, 1924Lauritz Melchior made his debut, as Siegmund, at the Royal Opera Houseat Covent Gardenin London. The result was a smashing success. Some weeks later Melchior made his debut on the stage of the Festspielhausin Bayreuth in the roles of Siegmund and Parsifal. On February 17, 1926his first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York Citytook place. He sang Tannhäuser opposite Maria Jeritza, Friedrich Schorr, Karin Branzelland Michael Bohnenwith Artur Bodanzkyconducting. Although he was not adversely criticized, there was not much enthusiasm elicited by this debut. In his first season at the Metropolitan opera, Melchior sang only eight times. His second season brought only one appearance. To build up his repertory and gain more stage experience, he accepted an engagement at the Hamburg State Opera, where he appeared as Lohengrin, " Otello", Radames in " Aida" and Jean van Leyden in " Le prophète". He also sung regularly at other major German music theaters, like the State Operas of Berlin and Munich.
Although Melchior sang at most of the theatres and concert halls of the
Western worldduring his long career, he is perhaps best remembered as a member of the Metropolitan Operacompany where he sang 519 performances of Wagnerian roles between 1926 and 1950. Melchior's breakthrough at the Metropolitan opera finally came when he performed in " Tristan und Isolde" on March 20, 1929. From this point on his career flourished. It was Lohengrin's Farewell which served as Melchior's " swan song" in his last stage performance, on 2 February, 1950.
Melchior appeared at Covent Garden from 1924 to 1939, also as Otello (opposite
Viorica Ursuleacas Desdemona) and Florestan, besides the Wagnerian repertory. Also at Covent Garden in 1932, he sang opposite popular soprano Florence Eastonin "Siegfried", the only time they appeared together. Other important stations of his career were in the Buenos Aires( Teatro Colón) (1931-1943), San Francisco Opera(1934-1945) and Chicago Opera (1934-1945).
Melchior made very many recordings, first as a baritone on Danish
HMV, then as a tenor for Deutsche Grammophon( Polydor) (1923-1930), English and German HMV (1927-1935), RCA Victor(1938-1941), American Columbia (1942-1950), and lastly Warner Brothers. His final appearance with Danish radio was in 1960 with a performance of the first act of " Die Walküre" to celebrate his 70th birthday, which was recorded and constitutes a terrific souvenir of the indestructible, indeed almost supernatural Melchior in full flight.
Some of Melchior's most notable colleagues in the opera houses of the world included the
sopranos Frida Leider, Kirsten Flagstad, Lotte Lehmann, Helen Traubel, Marjorie Lawrenceand Elisabeth Rethbergand conductors Felix Weingartner, Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Fritz Reiner, Sir Thomas Beecham, Arturo Toscanini, Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, and Otto Klemperer.
Between 1944 and 1952, Melchior performed in 5
Hollywoodmusical films for MGMand Paramount Picturesand made numerous US television appearances. In 1947, he put his hand and footprints in cement in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatrein Hollywood.
Following his unofficial retirement around 1955, Melchior made sporadic singing appearances. In the late 1960s, he set up a fund through
Juilliardfor the training of potential heldentenors called "The Lauritz Melchior Heldentenor Foundation."
In the summer of 1972, Melchior conducted the
San Francisco OperaOrchestra at Sigmund Stern Grove in the "Radetzky March" by Johann Strauss Ias part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the company; this was one of his last public appearances.
An American citizen since 1947, Melchior died in
Santa Monica, Californiain 1973. He was put to rest in the famous Assistens Kirkegaard cemetery in Copenhagen.
Melchior is the father of famous Danish-American novelist and filmmaker
Ib Melchior, who has written a biography about him and for years has fought a legal battle to reclaim the Melchior family estate Chossewitz in Germany, which was confiscated by the Nazis. Ib Melchior inherited the estate from Lauritz Melchior in 1973, and it forms the center of an ongoing international scandal.
Thrill of a Romance" (1945)
Two Sisters from Boston" (1946)
This Time for Keeps" (1947)
Luxury Liner" (1948)
The Stars Are Singing" (1953)
* Emmons, Shirley: Tristanissimo: "The Authorized Biography of Heroic Tenor Lauritz Melchior" (New York, Schirmer Books, 1990)
* Ib Melchior: "Lauritz Melchior: The Golden Years of Bayreuth" (Baskerville Publishers, 2003)
*cite web | title=Lauritz Melchior Web Central | url=http://www.heroictenor.com | accessmonthday=July 6 | accessyear=2005
* [http://wap03.informatik.fh-wiesbaden.de/weber1/melchior/melframe.html Lauritz Melchior Homepage]
*Laurtiz Melchior information on imdb.com [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0577480/]
* [http://www.statsbiblioteket.dk/dlh/melchior/melchior.html Melchior Page of the Danish State Library]
* [http://www.cantabile-subito.de/Tenors/Melchior__Lauritz/hauptteil_melchior__lauritz.html Melchior Page of Cantabile Subito]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMoXf9DR52g YouTube - Lauritz Melchior - Because] Lauritz Melchior sings "Because" in this video.
* [http://www.lovdata.no/avg/emd/emd-2001-066783.html Melchior v. Germany Decision] - German legal document (in English)
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Look at other dictionaries:
Lauritz Melchior — Lauritz Melchior, al centro, con sus hijos … Wikipedia Español
Lauritz Melchior — (rechts) mit Elisabeth Rethberg und Michael Bohnen 1932 auf dem Weg nach New York Lauritz Lebrecht Hommel Melchior (* 20. März 1890 in Kopenhagen; † 18. März 1973 in … Deutsch Wikipedia
Lauritz Melchior — (né Lebrecht Hommel le 20 mars 1890 à Copenhague, Danemark mort le 18 mars 1973 à Santa Monica, Californie) était un ténor danois naturalisé américain. Il débute comme baryton en 1913 et passe au registre de Heldentenor en… … Wikipédia en Français
Lauritz Melchior — noun United States operatic tenor (born in Denmark) noted for his Wagnerian roles (1890 1973) • Syn: ↑Melchior, ↑Lauritz Lebrecht Hommel Melchior • Instance Hypernyms: ↑tenor … Useful english dictionary
MELCHIOR (L.) — MELCHIOR LAURITZ (1890 1973) Il y a des records difficiles à battre. Quand Lauritz Melchior fit ses adieux à la scène au Metropolitan Opera de New York dans Lohengrin, en 1950, il avait chanté en scène 229 fois Tristan, 188 fois Siegmund, 144… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Melchior — ist ein männlicher Vorname, der vor allem dadurch bekannt wurde, dass einer der Heiligen drei Könige bzw. „Weisen aus dem Morgenland“ in der kirchlichen Tradition seit dem 6. Jahrhundert diesen Namen trägt. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Bedeutung und… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Lauritz — is a given name, and may refer to:* Lauritz Melchior, Danish and later American operatic baritone and tenor * Lauritz Weibull (1873–1960), Swedish historian … Wikipedia
Melchior — Contents 1 First name 2 Family name 3 In fiction 4 Other … Wikipedia
Lauritz Lebrecht Hommel Melchior — noun United States operatic tenor (born in Denmark) noted for his Wagnerian roles (1890 1973) • Syn: ↑Melchior, ↑Lauritz Melchior • Instance Hypernyms: ↑tenor … Useful english dictionary
Melchior — noun 1. United States operatic tenor (born in Denmark) noted for his Wagnerian roles (1890 1973) • Syn: ↑Lauritz Melchior, ↑Lauritz Lebrecht Hommel Melchior • Instance Hypernyms: ↑tenor 2. (New Testament) one of the three sages from the east who… … Useful english dictionary