[Met Performance] CID:101750
Tristan und Isolde {184} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/5/1929.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 5, 1929


Tristan.................Lauritz Melchior
Isolde..................Gertrude Kappel
Kurwenal................Friedrich Schorr
Brangäne................Karin Branzell
King Marke..............Michael Bohnen
Melot...................Arnold Gabor
Sailor's Voice..........George Meader
Shepherd................George Meader
Steersman...............Louis D'Angelo

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

Review (unsigned) in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin


Metropolitan Cast Sings in Inspired Manner at Academy

Richard Wagner's immortal epic of love and death was heard again at the Academy of Music last night with a superb cast of the Metropolitan Company in a performance that seemed truly inspired.

An intensity of feeling, sounded in the first act by that well-balanced trio of dramatic singers, Kappel, Melchior and Branzell, at the exact pitch of emotion, pervaded the tremendous work throughout its mazes of passion, restraint and heartbreak, rising in gradual waves of perfect dramatic values until the last act, when Lauritz Melchior, as Tristan, and Gertrude Kappel, as Isolde, attained heights of vocal and poignant expression that were more than personal triumphs, adding, as it were, even greater significance to the opera itself and rendering homage to the sprit of art.

Rarely is a capacity audience as still during a Wagnerian performance as was last night's. despite the fact that many came late and the veteran coughers were present. A breathlessness broken only by the enthusiastic applause between acts, was a marked tribute to the entire cast. Artur Bodanzky handled the orchestra with magnificent ability, subduing the instruments to allow the utmost vocal delicacy when necessary, and attaining powerful climaxes.

Every member of the cast was in excellent voice, Karin Branzell, as Brangäne, was outstanding, especially in the last act, her warning offstage in act two being done with a bell-like quality of tone that lent distinct ominous atmosphere. Both Madame Kappel and she acted and sang with a balance rarely attained in such roles which require absolute understanding one of the other.

The love duets in Act 2 became perfect tonal blendings under the marvelous and delicate control of Madame Kappel and M. Melchior, while the "Liebestod" of the former and Tristan's delirious death song climaxed the evening.

Friedrich Schorr, as Kurvenal, achieved a powerful portrayal of knightly loyalty, singing with his usual rich and sonorous clarity of tone, while Michael Bohnen's King Marke mingled the dignity of kingship and the sorrow of betrayed friendship with a human touch that made his singing all the more expressive. Arnold Gabor as Melot, George Meader as the Shepherd and the voice of the sailor, and Louis d'Angelo as the Steersman, sang their brief roles with the utmost finish. The sailors' chorus, in rhythmic swing and intoning song, was also a delightful feature, and, as always, one desired more of this brief […] after its end.

Costumes and settings were sumptuous, in design and coloring, the later being some of Joseph Urban's best. The ship in the first act disclosed mounting in rich yellow against a vivid blue sky; the whole suggestive of massive hull and far-spread rigging. The rose and brilliant blue robes of Mesdames Kappel and Branzell contrasted with Tristan's blood red uniform, the highlight of the picture. The moonlit castle surrounded with a sheen of blues and greens from water trees and stars, was another stage masterpiece.

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