Original Air Date: 03/29/1975
Ehrling; Nilsson, Thomas, Rundgren, Dooley, Rankin, Reynolds
This is Nilsson’s final Wagner opera from the Met airwaves. I am rooting for her to be good on this broadcast because she only has two other Gotterdammerung broadcasts, the first in 1962 when she was in very fresh voice under Leinsdorf (and on Met Opera in Demand (MOoD) and 1963 under Rosenstock — originally planned for Reiner– with extensive cuts. The supporting cast with the exception of possibly Anna Reynolds’ Waltraute don’t offer much help to Nilsson.
My reaction is as qualified as Paul Jackson in his final volume on the Met broadcasts. She is still in much better voice than when she returned to the Met after a 5 year absence in Elektra. Once again I will make a plea for the Rita Hunter Gotterdammerung broadcast from the year before (where she replaces Nilsson) which features her in very fresh voice, and one of the few broadcast appearances of Helge Brilioth as Siegfried, all under Kubelik. Kubelik only has 2 Met broadcasts (Troyens is the other with Verrett, Ludwig, and Vickers) and neither has been on the Sirius rebroadcast series.
But back to Gotterdammerung, Hagen is almost as important as Brunnhilde and Siegfried, and Rundgren is distinctly second grade goods. Thomas Stewart premiered the production in 1974, but Dooley was the Gunther on both the Kubelik and this broadcast, so no broadcast record for one of Stewart’s best roles. Rankin, a well traveled mezzo mostly in the Italian wing, is a curious choice for Gutrune (maybe Kubelik had a fond memory of her Troyens Cassandra when he premiered the opera 15 years earlier at La Scala with Del Monaco and Simionato in Italian. So this Gotterdammerung will be a curiosity, but for me her 1962 broadcast and the two commercial (Decca studio and Philips live from Bayreuth are noble indeed.
12/25/11 This is from Nilsson’s last Met appearance (save the following week’s Sieglinde with Hunter!!) that she would make for 5 years, when she absented herself from the country because of tax problems. A great loss to the Met, but the years were starting to add up. Ehrling conducts a competent cycle, but the real stick in the mud in this performance is Rundgren who is definitely a non-marquee Hagen. A high profile Hagen is really essential for a good Gotterdammerung, and Chereau made the same mistake in 1978 when I saw the centennial Ring in its third season with Firtz Hubner. We’ve been very spoiled by mostly Salminen for the last 20 years. Along with Frick and Bohme and (Greindl in Europe– no loss to my ears) they have been the dominant singers of one of the great Wagner roles.

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