[Met Performance] CID:101540
Siegfried {144} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/19/1929.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 19, 1929


SIEGFRIED {144}

Siegfried...............Rudolf Laubenthal
Brünnhilde..............Gertrude Kappel
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Mime....................George Meader
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................William Gustafson
Forest Bird.............Thalia Sabanieeva

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

Review signed S. S. L. in the Philadelphia Public Ledger

OPERA'SIEGFRIED' WELL SUNG HERE

Kappel and Schorr Head Pleasing Program - Serafin's Conducting Featured

The Metropolitan Opera Company again showed its Philadelphia patrons what it can do in opera when it really tries. The vehicle selected for this demonstration by Mr. Gatti-Casazza was Wagner's "Siegfried" one of the most beautiful of all operas - and one of the most difficult to present effectively, as it is full of pitfalls, vocally, scenically, dramatically, and above all, orchestrally.

Some of the scenes are impossible to stage according to directions, and even Wagner himself, who hesitated at very little when it came to impossible obligations upon singers, stage managers or orchestral players, felt constrained to make an exception of the "ascent of the burning mountain" and leave it in perfervid imaginations stimulated by some of the finest music of the entire "Ring" operas.

Bring Strong Cast

The cast was just about the strongest the artistic resources of the Metropolitan could provide, and Mr. Serafin took care of the unities and of the orchestral end of the performance.

Rudolph Laubenthal, as the hero, did the best work he has ever done here. He was in splendid voice and utilized to the full the fact that physically he is an ideal Siegfried, not having attained certain eccentricities of figure which seem to be indigenous to most German tenors. His acting was more natural than he has ever exhibited here and, all in all, he gave about as satisfactory a rendition as has been seen and heard in Philadelphia for many years.

All the members of the cast were equally good. Mr. Schorr's rich voice and excellent acting were demonstrated in every measure of his finest role, "The Wanderer." And he gave a magnificent portrayal of the despairing Wotan as he saw the end of everything draw near. His silent exit at the close of the first scene of the last act was full of pathos and the entire development of the role was little short of perfect.

George Meader again showed himself to be a Mime of the first order, in voice and in dramatic work, while his enunciation was decidedly the most clear of any member of the cast.

Kappel Wins Praise

The smaller roles of Alberich and the Voice of the Dragon were well taken by Gustav Schützendorf and William Gustafson, respectively.

"Siegfried" is essentially an opera of male roles. Only two female characters appear. Gertrude Kappel was a magnificent Brünnhilde in the only scene in which she appears, but one in which the composer has given the character plenty to do, especially vocally. Mme. Kappel, like all other members of the cast, was in superb voice and the great music following the "awakening" and the ensuing duet with the hero was very beautiful in its immense power.

Karin Branzell was the Erda and, although a few of the lowest notes might have had a little more power, it was a splendid piece of vocalization. She carried out the intense drama of the scene with Wotan very finely, although this is rendered more difficult by reason of there being absolutely no action.

Thalia Sabanieva was excellent as the Voice of the Forest Bird, although she might have sung a trifle louder against the generally heavy orchestration of this part of the opera.

The stage settings were excellent and there seemed to be a new dragon of more fearsome demeanor and better general stage behavior than the last one which the Metropolitan brought to Philadelphia. The "fight" between this awesome beast and the hero was about as convincing as it can be made.

Mr. Serafin again showed himself to be a thorough master of the art of conducting German opera, at any rate, of "Siegfried." It was the second time that this great conductor has led this opera in Philadelphia, and it was even better last evening than upon the first performance two seasons ago,. Mr. Serafin, in some manner, gets all of the essentially Wagnerian effects according to the German tradition, which cannot be said of any other conductors except those of German or Austrian birth - and not all of these.

The usual "foreign" conductor of Wagner almost always takes the tempi too fast and allows the orchestra to play too loud. But Mr. Serafin's tempi last evening were beautifully in accord with the emotional content of the music and his reading of the score was a masterpiece of sympathetic comprehension and musical feeling.



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