[Met Performance] CID:110300
Siegfried {156} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/9/1932.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 9, 1932


SIEGFRIED {156}

Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Brünnhilde..............Gertrude Kappel
Wanderer................Michael Bohnen
Erda....................Doris Doe
Mime....................Hans Clemens
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................Siegfried Tappolet
Forest Bird.............Thalia Sabanieeva

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

Review of Henry Starr Richardson in an unidentified Philadelphia newspaper

MELCHIOR A REAL HERO AS SIEGFRIED

Dominates in Excellent Performance With Kappel and Bohnen

BODANZKY CONDUCTS

Bright and buoyant, radiating melody and romanticism far beyond the usual Wagner music drama, "Siegfried," the scherzo of the "Ring" trilogy, was given a notable performance by the Metropolitan Company on last night, dominated by Melchior's fine Siegfried, which filled the large audience with enthusiasm.

The cast differed greatly from the usual one, but the appearance of Lauritz Melchior, the dark toned Danish tenor of the German school as Siegfried, lent much to the romanticism and heroic character of the performance, while the Brünnhilde of Gertrude Kappel insured an authoritative and brilliant Brünnhilde. Michael Bohnen, also, as Wotan, made for authority and finish, although Friedrich Schorr, who usually sings this role, could hardly be excelled, if equaled. Scheutzendorf, another of the regulars, did the utmost for a dramatic Alberich, but the appearance of Hans Clemens, the Flemish tight tenor as Mime, could hardly be expected to efface memories of the redoubtable Albert Reiss, or the more recent George Meader, who is now away in lighter "legitimate" work. Doris Doe was making her local debut as Erda, so gloriously sung January 13 of last year by Karin Branzell, and in 1925, 1927, I928, 1929 when this company previously did "Siegfried," by the same artist, although time was when Ernestine Schumann-Heink sang it and also Louise Homer.

Artur Bodanzky in the conductor's chair meant much to the performance. His masterly authority gave lustre to the entire evening and revealed the symphonic score in its highest estate. His understanding of the detail of content and his manner of projecting the vital thematic material in proper proportion and relative position, as well as his feeling for the lyric beauty hidden in the complex music, its omantic and poetic qualities, added the final touch necessary to make the performance distinguished.

Melchior was singing the title role for the first time here, although he has been heard frequently in other of the Wagner heroic roles. Rudolf Laubenthal has been the protagonist in recent years, excepting March 1, 1927 when Walter Kirchoff sang it. Melchior gave a gratefully manly performance, the color of his voice adding to that effect, although it did not seem quite so dark as heretofore. He is a good actor, and he made the youthful hero boyishly active and alert, while his entire performance was marked by superior intelligence, grasp of the part, and the buoyant spontaneity so essential to it. His scene at the forge went with great vigor and romantic appeal, while he gave the right touch to adventurous romanticism, to the forest scene and to the fight with the dragon. His Last Act scene with Wotan, the ascent of the mountain and awakening of Brünnhilde were done with authority and dramatic effectiveness, He sang robustly, as the part demands, but with full regard for the finer nuances of good vocalism. He presented the most heroic figure of the epic hero that we have had in years - since Ernest Kraus-and his acting throughout was boyishly ebullient. He easily dominated the performance and received call after call at the conclusions of the first two Acts.

Gertrude Kappel did not appear until the Last Act where she brought all her artistry, vocal and dramatic, to the making of the scene of the awakening and the love music with Siegfried, notable. With Melchior as a very effective wooer the love scenes went with unusual gusto and success. Michael Bohnen's basso gave depth and color to the several scenes of the Wanderer, while his thorough grasp of the role and its significance enabled him to invest it with dignity and importance. His rich and resonant voice gave organ quality to all Wotan had to do. Clemens was only fair as Mime, but it is hardly to be expected that he would quite come up to the high standards set by his predecessors, Reiss and Meader. He is not quite at home in the role and had to face the prompter most of the time in the scene with Siegfried leading up to his death.

Doris Doe, the new contralto, an American girl, revealed a big toned and darkly colored voice, which is true contralto. She sang with breadth and authority, fluently, coloring expressively. She delivered the music of her scene very effectively and it is evident that she is a welcome addition to the company. Scheutzendorf's Alberich was the same excellent dramatic and sinister performance we have often had from him, and Siegfried Tappolet delivered the sleepy phrases of Fafner with sonority and rich tone. Thalia Sabanieeva fluently, but with rather small volume, sang the music of the wisely warning bird.



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