Cher Public

The view from Kareol

kleiber_thumbPoet of the podium Carlos Kleiber leads the final minutes of Tristan und Isolde from the mystic abyss of Bayreuth, circa 1975.

The Isolde is Catarina Ligendza, as heard in the performance shared in last season of Unnatural Acts of Opera. Per our comely Camille, a Kleiber Bayreuth Tristan is one of the complete operas included in the very reasonably priced compendium Beyond the Ring: The Best of Wagner [Box Set].

  • ACD


    If ever “perfect” could be applied to any reading of this close, it undoubtedly applies here.

    Thanks for this.


  • schweigundtanze


  • chicagoboy

    Thanks! What wonderful, ecstatic music making.

  • Camille

    Grand merci, Cieca cherie!
    I have just recently purchased a compendium of Wagner operas, which includes this Tristan and have yet to have listened to it, as there is a Rienzi (with a wonderful Ludwig), Fliegende Hollander, Tannhauser, and Lohengrin ahead of T&I. I was frankly wondering about how Ligendza would sound. Well, now I know.

    To another topic:
    Is SQUIRREL playing Eve Harrington to la CIECA’s Margo Channing??????

    R.S.V.P. — I am starting to get a little nervous that our beloved, forever jeune, doyenne has been entertaining plans of retirement — perhaps ready to jet off in your gondola to the isle of Giudecca, are you?

    Would you kindly allay my fears?
    Autre grand merci.

    • La Cieca is encouraging Squirrel among others of the younger generation of scribes, including in that number of course the sempiternal Mlle. Beauchamps.

      Tell us more about this compendium!

      • CruzSF

        Squirrel is a member of the younger generation? Somehow, that’s not how I imagined him. Will the surprises never cease?

        • “Younger” is, of course, a relative term. You must remember, that, relative to La Cieca, Dame Maggie Smith is a member of the younger generation.

      • Camille

        Oh GIOIA!!

        Thank god that’s all it is.

        I just prepared a response, with all sorts of information regarding the Wagner Operas, when my laptop died, with all the information. I now have to go out, so will post later on.

        The compendium is a BRAVISSIMO Opera Library product, about US$30., and the sound is mediocre if you are fussy, but Ok, if like little moi, grew up in L.P. daze.

        The date of the T&I is: July 27, 1974. Kleiber from Bayreuth, as noted above.

        And Cieca dearest, don’t you ever go, as we love you SO! There’s no one at all to take your place, I feel.

        thanx for the ‘sempiternal’ -- tain’t so…the sands of my sanduhr are running down and out, like die Marschallin.

      • Camille

        I have listened this afternoon to the Kleiber and I would say it is worthwhile to buy for the fabulous sounds he conjures up, alone. I’ve also bought the official Kleiber record with Dame Price, whom I am quite fond of and impressed with in this role.

        Ligendza is good, solid, but has a monotonous sound after a while. She doesn’t buckle under and spread much nor wobble, though, thank heavens. The tenor, Brilioth, is a little challenged, his manner of expressing his voice makes him slightly bellow and is a hair or shade out of intonation. He’s really not so bad, but not the Tristan of anyone’s dreams. Yvonne Minton, however, is quite fine as Brangaene; no surprise that she was able to sing Kundry as well.

        Recording sound is rather primitive, or of the period, shall we say and one hears a bit of the acoustics of the hall on the Green Hill.

        It is very nice to hear a tempo where the singers are not dying, a la chief dirigent here (NYC), with his ‘tempo di molasses’. I love the sense of crazy urgency he puts into the end of the First Act, and the love duet, of course.

        Must listen to the other one next. I wonder why he chose Dame Price instead of Ligendza…I would have liked to have heard her under a better acoustic.

        Sorry, I am writing from my sickbed, and I haven’t more energy than this to give to the recordings.

  • ellerveira

    Nice but I would have liked her voice to sail more effortlessly above the orchestra. I didn’t get the sense of complete ease; she had to work a bit much to do it all. I will have to compare to Flgastad.

  • ellerveira
    • mrmyster

      I had no idea Ligendza was that good! Brava! LOTS of voice there and the finest F# ‘lust’ I’ve heard in a long time. Funny, C. L. never got much press in the US and there were issues about her at the Met or not-at-the-Met, I forget.
      Anybody know that story.
      Many many thanks for this aural glimpse.
      From the way Kleber is dressed I assume this
      was a rehearsal? Or what?

      • squirrel

        Maybe Mr Myster, but the Bayreuth pit is famously covered! You could conduct performances in your shirtsleeves. Knappertsbusch claimed to love the house for this reason.

        I have never seen a performance at the Green Hill, so I have no idea how the conductors handle curtain calls. Did they quickly get dressed? Or take a Kimono?

        • CarlottaBorromeo

          Certainly in the 80s they would conduct in tee-shirts etc and then change into something more formal for the curtain-calls. I remember Barenboim in a brown lounge suit while the late Horst Stein wore a dinner jacket. But I remember seeing a photograph of Thomas Schippers taking a curtain-call after Meistersinger in the 60s wearing white-tie and tails…

          It was said that Boulez took his curtain-calls after the RING in 1976 in a grey suit and a red tie just to annoy the traditionalists but I can’t confirm that story!

      • horiampa

        The Met database includes Harold Schoenberg’s review of the performance of Tristan on January 11, 1974 which sets forth the bare facts of Ligendza’s “near miss” with Isolde at the Met. Although I had no access to inside information, my impression was that Vicker’s just didn’t think that Barlow was up to his standards and withdrew.

        The significance of all this was that it led to the resignation of Rafael Kubelik as the Music Director. Led by Erich Leinsdorf, who conducted the performances, there was a great hue and cry that Kubelik was away in Munich during this casting crisis, even though it was clearly understood that he had continuing obligations there for the first years of his appointment at the Met. I always suspected that Leinsdorf coveted the position for himself and grasped the opportunity to embarrass Kubelik. In any event, Kubelik resigned and we lost the greatest opera conductor of his time. His Gotterdammerung performances with Nilsson remain the finest conducting of Wagner that I have ever heard at the Met.

      • Graciella Scusi

        I saw Ligendza’s one and only Fidelio performance at the Met. She seemed nervous and careful and didn’t make a strong impression, rather bland. Not bad but not good. She was Swedish and her mother and father were singers. She and Kleiber had a strong bond, purportedly personal as well as professional and did a LOT of Tristans together. It was certainly her best role. I don’t like her Chrysothemis in the Bohm film with Rysanek; the tessitura was too high, the top is not free, and for me, weaned on Rysanek, it HAS to be.

        • CarlottaBorromeo

          Ligendza was a wonderful Brunnhilde in the Gielen/Berghaus RING in Frankfurt in the mid-80s -- especially in the Siegfried where the higher tessitura was no problem for her. A fine and under-rated artist…

  • squirrel

    Not from Bayreuth but equally titillating is this clip of a very “authentic” Maazel in 1967. Feast ye eyes!

    Does anyone have the rehearsal clip of the first appearance he made at Bayreuth in the early 60s? He hilariously tells the orchestra that he is very “successful” to conduct them (mir ist ein grosser Erfolg!) when I am pretty sure he meant Ehre or something. They kind of stare at him like he’s an idiot. Plus, he has a crew cut!

    • MontyNostry

      Maybe ‘Erfog’ was a Freudian slip from the usually 100% efficient Maazel.

    • Did you catch the arms on Seigfried, Claude Heater?
      What became of the Brunnhilde? I’m not familier with either of principals in this Gott. excerpt.

  • The Vicar of John Wakefield

    “In any event, Kubelik resigned and we lost the greatest opera conductor of his time”


    What an insult to Reggie Goddall, not to mention Sandy Gibson and old Norman del Mar.

  • The Vicar of John Wakefield

    *GOODALL*, damn it!

    I was so enraged I dropped clotted cream on my computer.

    • horiampa

      Sorry, Vicar. I was referring only to conductors whom I heard at the Met in New York. I apologize for my provincialism. I certainly meant no disrespect to the maestri you mention, none of whom did I ever hear in live performance.

      Apologies also to your computer. I hope that it is none the worse for your accident.

  • Orlando Furioso

    Carlos Kleiber did marvelous things with Tristan, but for me the optimum combination was 1976 at Bayreuth, when Spas Wenkoff took over as Tristan. For a few years, this pair was really able to make magic as T&I. That performance used to be available on a Legendary Records LP, but I’ve never seen it emerge on CD.

    Unfortunately his commercial recording doesn’t approach the same level; partly because he or DG chose to desert his stage casting (admittedly Margaret Price was a surprise of the good sort, but most of the rest was for the worse), and partly because the maestro himself didn’t recapture what was so great about his stage work in the piece.

  • Harry

    Vicar: ‘Losing the greatest conductor of a time….with Goodall???!!!’ One would not be surprised if his ghost is still in some opera pit somewhere, trying to finish off a performance he started decades ago, … slow his tempos. Goodall would have to be the greatest Wagner time straggler to ever cross a finale line, who ever lived. Take his EMI live recorded Sadlers Wells Gotterdammerung in (Vnglish!) 5 and a quarter hours in actual performance time? At times, you can hear the dragged out tempos are: what are worrying the singers, not the music.Goodall of course would call it ; his sense of profundity. Adds strength to his personal reputation of also being ‘a slow learner’….regarding rehearsal time schedules.

  • Scott Rose

    Ligendza portrays Chrysothemis in Goetz Friedrich’s film of Elektra, which I discuss in my December Opera News article about Elektra.

  • Cassandra

    God, to sing for a conductor like that. They barely exist these days.

    Holding down the orchestra (which plays like a dream) in Bayreuth? Lovely.

  • Byrnham Woode

    As mentioned, Kleiber led TRISTAN at Bayreuth from 1974 to 1977, always with Ligendza. The 1976 season had Spas Wenkoff as Tristan and a broadcast was released by Legendary on LP. I think I saw that edition on CD ONCE, and alas I don’t remember where or when. I have the LP set.

    It’s wonderful, if a faster traversal of this great score than many of us are used to. In addition to the aforementioned unhappy couple we have Minton, McIntyre, Ridderbusch and Heinz Zednik as both the Sailor and the Sheperd. Heribert Steinbach has a decent heldentenorish sound as Melot. Wenkoff should be better remembered. He was a fine artist for this repertory.

    Ligendza was a feature at Bayreuth from 1971. Her Brünnhilde’s are decent, but she only performed the RING for 3 seasons, under the flat leadership of Horst Stein. There are multiple broadcasts to be had. In 1974 she switched over to the new staging of TRISTAN under Kleiber. She left Bayreuth after the late ’70s, but returned for two seasons around 1986. This was for more of Isolde, this time under Barenboim.

  • kashania

    Is no one going to mention how hot Kleiber looks in this video? :)

  • CarlottaBorromeo

    And of course there’s the eternal truth of Bayreuth -- if the conductor stands up he disappears off the top of the monitors (unless he’s a midget -- in which case he can’t be seen behind the stand when he’s sitting down!)