[Met Performance] CID:101600
Der Freischütz {19} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/23/1929.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 23, 1929 Matinee


DER FREISCHÜTZ {19}
C. M. Weber-Kind

Max.....................Rudolf Laubenthal
Agathe..................Maria Müller
Caspar..................Michael Bohnen
Ännchen.................Editha Fleischer
Ottokar.................Gustav Schützendorf
Hermit..................Léon Rothier
Kilian..................Arnold Gabor
Cuno....................Louis D'Angelo
Samiel..................James Wolfe
Bridesmaid..............Charlotte Ryan
Bridesmaid..............Dorothea Flexer
Bridesmaid..............Philine Falco

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

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Choreographer...........August Berger

[The recitatives were composed by Bodanzky.]

Der Freischütz received three performances this season.

Review of Francis D, Perkins in the New York Herald Tribune

'Der Freischutz' Revived After 3-Year Absence

Weber Opera at Metropolitan Again Captures Interest Despite Outmoded Features

Bohnen Excels as Caspar

Mme. Müller Gives Pleasing Performance as Agathe

Weber's "Der Freischutz" had its first production at the Metropolitan Opera House since April 3, 1926 yesterday afternoon with Mmes. Müller and Fleischer, Messrs. Laubenthal and Bohnen as the principals in a generally praiseworthy effort.

While yesterday's production is a revival of the work, in that it was heard again after two seasons' lapse, it could also be considered as the twelfth performance of Mr. Gatti-Casazza's second production of this German classic - his first was launched in 1910. The present production was first offered on March 23, 1924 with Mmes. Rethberg and Mario, Messrs. Taucher and Bohnen in the major roles. Besides Mr. Bohnen, Miss Ryan and Messrs. Schützendorf, Wolfe, Rothier and Gabor were the members of that initial 1924 cast heard yesterday afternoon, while Mme. Müller and Mr. Laubenthal appeared in later performances. Whereby Miss Fleischer who sang Aennchen with the German company at the Lexington Theater in March 1923, Mr. D'Angelo and Mmes. Flexer and Falco were the only members of yesterday's cast singing their roles for the first time in this house.

Opera Retains Freshness

"Der Freischutz" passed the hundredth anniversary of its premiere eight years ago, and, among the operas of the present Metropolitan repertoire, yields seniority only to "The Barber of Seville," and to "Fidelio," which may not be heard this season. The essential Germanism of "Der Freischutz," the fact that "the world over "Der Freischutz" is looked upon as peculiarly the property of the Germans" as Mr. Krehbiel phrased it, has been often emphasized before this, but even for non-German ears, this century-old music retains a remarkable amount of greenness and freshness. Its generally persuasive tunefulness and spontaneity are still able to please and the effectiveness of Weber's suggestions of a sinister atmosphere by notably economical means still calls for admiration.

But, not unnaturally, this Weber opera, while a work of genius in its way, has features which are outmoded and some that are no longer interesting. Certain elements, presumably intended to be impressive, now seem naive. The naïveté, indeed, often is an asset in the fresh and verdant atmosphere of the work, but there also are positive drawbacks. The opera often moves slowly, one or two arias are, for us, repetitiously drawn out and the prolonged close, while it may be edifying, is anti-climatic and distinctly lengthy. The macabre element is more likely to cause amusement than shudders, though still able to furnish enjoyment of an external type. But the story as a whole is no longer convincing; it is not easy to take it seriously and the music a century and more after its composition has not always, for contemporary ears, the potency needed to offset its drawback.

Mme. Müller gave a well characterized and effective performance of Agathe. Her representation of the heroine was very pleasing to see, while her singing marked an advance over three years ago. Certain stronger passages brought out a slight metallic timber in her tone, but generally it was clear and praiseworthy in quality, she sang for the most part with musicianship and excellent vocal style. Mme. Fleischer did good work as Aennchern, the inevitably optimistic confidante who has the not easy task of cheering up Agathe. Mr. Laubenthal's Max was well portrayed and satisfactory to the eye, while his voice was often, but not always, in its best estate.

Bohnen Excels as Villain

As before the most striking impersonation in the production was Mr. Bohnen's Caspar; he gave a vivid portrayal of that heavy villain, strong-voiced, very melodramatic, in a role calling for melodrama. Mr. Schützendorf's Ottokar, Mr. Rothier's Hermit, Mr. D'Angelo's Cuno, Mr. Gabor's Killian and Mr. Wolfe's Samiel were satisfactorily performed, while Miss Flexer was in the best voice among the three bridesmaids.

The staging was mainly as in 1924-26, although there appeared to be some modification in the Wolf's Glen scene. It might be suggested that early in this scene, where a double walked across the bridge while the tenor sang behind the scenes, Max's voice should seem to come from some point less remote from Max's person than it did yesterday. Mr. Bodanzky, whose recitatives composed for the 1924 revival are well wrought and Weberian, led a well-played, spirited and expressive performance. and the ballet, as before, danced agreeably to the interpolated strains of Weber's "Invitation to Dance."



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