Cover image for Tristanissimo : the authorized biography of heroic tenor Lauritz Melchior
Tristanissimo : the authorized biography of heroic tenor Lauritz Melchior
Emmons, Shirlee.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Schirmer Books ; London : Collier Macmillan Publishers, [1990]

Physical Description:
xvi, 462 pages ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.M352 E4 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Throughout his 24-year tenure at the Metropolitan Opera, Lauritz Melchior reigned supreme as the heroic tenor of his time. He was acclaimed by many critics as the last great Heldentenor and his performances in Tristan und Isolde, Siegfried, Goetterdaemmerung Lohengrin, Tannhauser and Parsifal remain well-known. His portrayal of Isolde's beloved inspired Toscanini's appellation Tristanissimo. He later became a popular star, appearing on the Fred Allen show and starring in several movies. The author had access to unpublished papers and interviewed dozens of his friends and colleagues.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The Danish heldentenor's life and professional career are presented in a manner that is both musically detailed and personally sympathetic. Melchior's reputation as the greatest Wagnerian tenor of his and perhaps all time is sustained in this account, not just by critical opinion but by the author's own memories of working with Melchior. Since Emmons was a colleague during the tenor's wooing of a mass audience via radio, television, and nightclub performances, she can record not only his more serious operatic roles but his success as pure entertainer and can describe this more popular role without musical snobbery. With access to the singer's papers and through numerous interviews, the biography re-creates Melchior's legendary career and hearty enthusiasm for life in an ingratiating portrait. Notes, bibliography, list of roles, and discography; index. --John ~Brosnahan

Choice Review

An operatic career lasting from 1913 to 1950, including 223 performances as Tristan, 128 as the young Siegfried, 621 performances of other Wagner heroes, and 2,100 concerts is incomparable in opera history. One has only to listen to recent reissues of Melchior's great recordings to understand his reputation as the greatest Heldentenor ever and to know what opera lost when Rudolf Bing forced Melchior's farewell performance, when he was still singing well, in 1950, aged 70. The Melchior collaborations with great sopranos Leider, Lehmann, Flagstad, and Traubel are celebrated here, along with the tenor's generosity to his colleagues and to tenors who might develop into Wagner tenors and his eagerness to use recordings, radio, TV, and films to spread his love for life and music. This is an excellently drawn portrait of the great man. Unfortunately, Emmons did not experience the tenor in his great roles in his great days, but the book "reads" extremely well, and the author has been sympathetic and most attentive to her voluminous sources. The fact that Melchior eventually became careless about rhythm, rehearsals, and the rest is treated honestly. The book boasts a forword by Birgit Nilsson, more than 70 black-and-white photographs, extensive source notes, a bibliography, complete list of roles, a discography by Hans Hansen, and a good index. Highly recommended. -J. Rayburn, Mercy College