[Met Performance] CID:100630
Die Walküre {230} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/15/1928.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 15, 1928 Matinee


DIE WALKÜRE {230}

Brünnhilde..............Florence Easton
Siegmund................Rudolf Laubenthal
Sieglinde...............Maria Jeritza
Wotan...................Clarence Whitehill
Fricka..................Margarete Matzenauer
Hunding.................William Gustafson
Gerhilde................Charlotte Ryan
Grimgerde...............Marion Telva
Helmwige................Dorothee Manski
Ortlinde................Louise Lerch
Rossweisse..............Ina Bourskaya
Schwertleite............Dorothea Flexer
Siegrune................Editha Fleischer
Waltraute...............Merle Alcock

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky

Review of William Spier in the December 22, 1928 issue of Musical America

By way of making an initial genuflection of the season in the direction of the Trilogy of Wagner, the revered Metropolitan dug out the properties and personages which ornament its current survey of "Die Walküre" last Saturday afternoon. It was performed under conditions and in approval local patterns that have elicited our pained wonderment on previous occasions. Not often, however, have we been permitted to wallow in such fidgety misery as was our allotment on the occasion under discussion.

The "Walküre," we plead, is not the most difficult opera in the world's history. Not nearly so much hinges upon the nice qualities of its performance as is the case with "Lohengrin," for instance. Given a decent amount of directorial consideration, good but not necessarily transcendent vocal utterance, and a batonist who is reasonably interested in the matters at hand, the work will, to a considerable degree, take care of itself. It has neither the snare of transparent simplicity that betrays many an assayal of "Das Rheingold," nor the aspect of cosmic heroism that must enter into "Götterdämmerung." It is outright and straightforward in spirit and its subtleties are only those which musicianship instinctively dictates.

It was therefore by rather a determined effort of will that those who were concerned in last week's affair, generally speaking, were able to dissipate the illusions that were ready-made for them. This was made possible in some measure by the glorious decrepitude of scenic delights which have been striving desperately to present some form of conviction these many years. The Rock of the Walküren, as it was exposed by the lighting staff on Saturday, was a pretty ungodly treat for optics which had just finished gazing upon something that the program pretended was a "Wild. Rocky Height."

Of the human beings who were involved in the proceedings, Mme. Margaret Matzenauer, the Fricka, was the principal survivor after the wreckage had been cleared away. Her effortless and vibrant delivery infused a magical touch of truth and dramatic verity that should have communicated itself to those about her. As a stage presence she was completely in the picture-she would have been had there been any picture. Miss Florence Easton won second place among the counter irritants. She has never been and it is hardly possible that she ever will be the Brünnhilde of Wagner's demand; that she should find it within her powers to sing the laughing Valkyr at all is a constant surprise. Yet, with this detail disposed of, there is much to admire in the intelligent sincerity of Miss Easton's conception. On this occasion, as always, she was dependable and alert, though earlier encounters with the role have found her more searchingly impressive.

Mme. Maria Jeritza, as Sieglinde, was the afternoon's prime offender. Not content with making an unsavory mess of some of the smoothest vocal lines that were ever written by Richard the First, she took it upon herself in addition to make the Wälsung wench one of the most forward creatures we have seen in some time. Unlike Mme. Matzenauer, this lady was in the picture for what she could get out of it. Her unabashed usurping of every possible scene through pure force of physical gesture, her flagrant labors for the benefit of the eye minded, were an anomaly of the word Artist.

The Wotan was Mr. Clarence Whitehill, rather more professionally noble and deified than usual, but a stirring figure withal. Admittedly, he was spent and demoralized in tone almost from the outset of his duties. But we long ago gave up imagining that voice and brains could find lodging in the same head; and the exceptions are few enough to bear us out. Mr. William Gustafson was an undistinguished Hunding and Mr. Rudolf Laubenthal was his customary self in the habiliments of Siegmund, though he exhibited vocal form that was superior, for him.

Mr. Bodanzky sat at the helm, drawing forth citrous sounds from a yawning orchestra that went its own sweet way untroubled by details of form, phrase, nuance, opulence or climactic effect. And still we like the "Walküre!"



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