[Met Performance] CID:10880
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {41} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/2/1892.

(Debut: Pierre Delasco, Mr. Furst, Mr. Claus, Mr. Mira, Theodore Habelmann
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 2, 1892
In Italian


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {41}
Wagner-Wagner

Hans Sachs..............Jean Lassalle
Eva.....................Emma Albani
Walther von Stolzing....Jean de Reszke
Magdalene...............Mathilde Bauermeister
David...................Sebastian Montariol
Beckmesser..............Agostino Carbone
Pogner..................Enrico Serbolini
Kothner.................Pierre Delasco [Debut]
Vogelgesang.............Mr. Grossi
Nachtigall..............Giuseppe Cernusco
Ortel...................Antonio De Vaschetti
Zorn....................Antonio Rinaldini
Moser...................Mr. Furst [Debut]
Eisslinger..............Mr. Claus [Debut]
Foltz...................Mr. Mira [Debut]
Schwarz.................Lodovico Viviani

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

Director................Theodore Habelmann [Debut]
Set Designer............Henry E. Hoyt
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian
Lighting Designer.......James Jr. Stuart

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg received four performances in Italian this season.

Unsigned review in The New York Times

"I MAESTRI CANTORI"

The first performance in this country in Italian of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg," given at the Metropolitan Opera House last night, provided more food for thought than can be digested within the limits of a midnight's criticism. One thing, however, can be said without deliberation, and with unrestrained heartiness, Messrs. Abbey, Schoeffel & Grau deserve the warm thanks of all sincere music lovers for an honest and painstaking endeavor to give a faithful presentation of Wagner's immortal comic opera. There was every evidence of a genuine desire on the part of the managers to please the public taste by giving a good performance of the work and adhering as closely as possible to the designs of the composer. If their production did not reach ideal perfection, the shortcoming was due to circumstances over which managers have no control.

Before going further it is a pleasure to say that the performance contained some most notable excellences. Indeed, these excellences were of such a gracious and engaging kind that the duty of pointing out such defects as existed becomes doubly disagreeable. But art is long, and individual efforts are fleeting. The interpreter comes and goes, but the work remains; and the critic's first and most important duty is that which he owes to the creator of the opera.

The faults of last night's performance may be summed up in the statement that unless an Italian singer be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of Wagner. The traditions of the Italian stage place pure beauty of vocal utterance above all else. The traditions of the Wagnerian drama are based upon the demand of the "art work of the future," that poetry, painting, and music shall each to some extent sacrifice their egotism in order that all may work equally and together for a common end. Leaving out of consideration the often discussed question whether this is the true lyrico-dramatic art or not, it is obvious that no work conceived and constructed according to this idea is fairly presented when the traditions of the so-called Italian stage govern its performance.

To dwell on certain tones with that lingering caress which harmonizes so well with the spirit of the music of Donizetti or Bellini, to broaden the tempo of certain phrases in order to admit the sweet, sensuous effects of the messa di voce and the smorzando to distort certain representative themes for the sake of obeying customs of vocal delivery sanctioned by the usage of a school diametrically opposed to Wagner's theories - this is to attempt to read the meaning of the Baireuth master by a false and misleading light. It is impossible to Latinize the Teutonism of Wagner. The endeavor to do this was the cause of the failure of the best artists in last night's performance to reach an ideal plane of excellence. Their most conspicuous shortcomings were precisely at the points where they plainly believed themselves to be achieving the greatest success.

To sing Wagner's music as it ought to be sung is not to sing it badly. When the leading artists of the company now at the Metropolitan learn this, they will give a more faithful performance of "Die Meistersinger," though it is doubtful whether they can give an absolutely true one, for the intensely national spirit of the work is not easily grasped by any mind but that of a born German.

Laying aside further consideration of this feature of the presentation and accepting as inevitable the vocal treatment, warm praise can be freely bestowed on those two truly great artists, Jean de Reszke, who was the Walther, and M. Lassalle, the Hans Sachs. Both were sincere, thoughtful, and fervent in their work, and one could get a large measure of enjoyment from the finish of their vocal style, if he shut his senses against its frequent inappropriateness. It would probably be a very difficult, if not impossible, task to find two other singers trained in the French or Italian methods who would approach the performance of these parts with such wholesouled earnestness.

Mme. Albani's Eva was an interesting and painstaking performance, but she erred in sacrificing the gentle dignity of Pogner's daughter to a desire to be archly engaging. Mlle. Bauermeister deserves credit for careful work as Maddalena, and M. Montariol's David, while lacking the freedom that will come with greater familiarity with the rôle, was more than acceptable. Signor Serbolini was a dignified Pogner, and Signor Carbone, who was also laboring under the restraints of a new part, sang the music of Beckmesser far better than it has ever been sung here before.

The smaller parts were not so well performed, but they present great difficulties to an Italian company. The chorus sang its music excellently and the orchestra, save when it was tampered by the ritardandi of the singers, did its work admirably. It is hardly necessary to praise the conducting of Anton Seidl, without whose superb generalship the performance of "Die Meistersinger" would have been an impossibility.



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