These recordings were made when the great Norwegian soprano was in her vocal prime, between 1935 and 1940. Although her voice remained astonishingly well preserved till late in her career, later recordings of the same music are no less resplendent but perhaps lack the last degree of dramatic tension she could bring when regularly singing these roles on stage.
Included is the Act 2 duet from Parsifal, which became a calling-card not only for her but for her partner in this recording, and times without number on stage, Lauritz Melchior.
Desmond Shawe-Taylor remarked in the New Grove Dictionary of Opera that ‘No one within living memory surpassed her in sheer beauty and consistency of line and tone’. She quickly became a legend in Norway, where her portrait adorned both the 100 Kroner note and the tail of Norwegian Air Shuttle planes, but her fame spread throughout the musical world (she is one of the few opera singers to have her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame). Rudolf Bing called her ‘the greatest soprano of the century’, and many would agree.
Mild und leise (Liebestod) - Tristan und Isolde
Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen - Lohengrin
Ich sah' das Kind - Parsifal
Du bist der Lenz - Die Walküre
Ho-jo-to-ho! - Die Walküre
Vorspiel/Zu neuen Thaten - Götterdämmerung
Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort (Brünnhildes Schlussgesang) - Götterdämmerung
“For sheer vocal opulence in Wagner, these tracks would be hard to equal. Her ‘Ho-jo-to-ho!’ in 1935 announced on the gramophone her arrival as a Wagnerian prima donna and the splendour of the singing is unsurpassed.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.