Wagner: Kirsten Flagstad sings Parsifal & Siegfried - Acts I & II of Parsifal, London, 1951. Act III Siegfried, London, 1949


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It is a regret of mine that the great Kirsten Flagstad is so underrepresented in my catalog. Although we are fortunate that she emerged when recordings were starting to become more and more commonplace, the ability to record broadcasts of operas was still in its infancy and an expensive process at that. So even though these performances are incomplete they are priceless because they give an accurate and honest account of the brilliance that was Kirsten Flagstad. By 1951 the bloom of Flagstad's middle voice had become lusher making her the ideal Kundry. Even though the first Act of this Parsifal, which has not been available for years, only begins 30 minutes into the opera, there are many opportunities for Flagstad, the actress, to shine and as an added bonus we get a chance to hear the excellent Amfortas of Sigurd Bjoerling. In Act II Flagstad displays an electric stage presence and sets fire to the scene in a way that I have never heard her even in roles like Isolde and Brünnhilde. Although a few of the high notes get away from her, she is committed and thrilling. The Excerpt of Siegfried begins right after the Erda-Wanderer scene in Act III. Despite the following scene between Siegfried and the Wanderer being savagely cut, it is nonetheless acquitted very well by Set Svanholm and Kenneth Schon (Schon was an American Bass-Baritone who went on to make a name for himself on Broadway.) Flagstad's subsequent awakening reveals a voice of astonishing beauty and control. Her "Ewig war ich" is delivered with the musical delicacy of a Schubert Lied and the vocal technique of a superb Mozart singer. The sound is surprisingly good for the time

OD 10921-3