[Met Performance] CID:101360
Siegfried {143} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/7/1929.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 7, 1929


Siegfried...............Rudolf Laubenthal
Brünnhilde..............Elena Rakowska
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Mime....................Max Bloch
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................William Gustafson
Forest Bird.............Editha Fleischer

Conductor...............Tullio Serafin

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Hans Kautsky

Siegfried received four performances this season.

Review of Irving Weil in the Evening Journal


Tullio Serafin, although nominally the chief conductor of only the Italian repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera, has taken one of the Wagnerian music dramas under his wing with striking, and not altogether unexpected, results. His lone German fosterling is "Siegfried," the third of the "Nibelung's Ring" tetrology and he directed its first performance of the season last night.

This "Siegfried," disclosed here for the first time last year, is one of the best performances of the work that the opera has had in many a day. It is so good, indeed, one regrets that the tripartite division of affairs at the Metropolitan cannot, seemingly, be made over into some sort of triple entente by which Mr. Serafin might be permitted to dip into more of the German repertoire, to say nothing of the French.

His illuminating presentation of the score of 'Siegfried" is peculiarly welcome since this one of the "Nibelung" dramas needs both more virile and more delicate handling than any of the others. It is, as a fact, the poorest "theatre" of them all, and mediocre treatment of it has the effect of making its absurdities dominate the action.


It is the great livestock opera of the repertoire, what with the stage bear in the first act and prophetic talking bird and snorting dragon the second. Moreover, in other respects, Wagner was here by the progress of his epic tale forced into a number of altogether unviable dramatic devices that all too easily become apparent for just what they are.

When, however, the music of the piece is given its head, as Mr. Serafin so vigorously and beautifully contrived to do, Wagner rises eloquently above the stage handicaps he set himself, and the listener is swept along on the flood of it without enough thought for anything else to bother about. Mr. Serafin managed to get a supple responsiveness from the Metropolitan orchestra that is rare enough with it nowadays. He brought out vividly the power and beauty of the score and he restored certain essential parts of it that in late years had usually been cut out.


Nor was this all he managed to do. He really directed the performance - he wasn't merely satisfied to conduct the orchestra. He devised a unified dovetailed presentation of the opera in which the singers carried out their appointed parts and no longer went their own sweet way. The singers, therefore, were doing something with a definite purpose and as always under the circumstances of such direction, they sang and acted far better than they ordinarily do.

The Young Siegfried of Rudolf Laubenthal is one of the best things he has done since has been here. Elena Rakowska, who is Mrs. Serafin, made an excellent Brünnhilde, whilst Editha Fleischer handled the difficult music of the Forest Bird most ably and Karin Branzell was in impressive Erda. Max Bloch's Mime was a carefully elaborated piece of work, and Friedrich Schorr's Wotan the Wanderer was first class.

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