[Met Performance] CID:114820
Die Walküre {269}
Ring Cycle [55] Uncut
. Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/22/1934.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 22, 1934 Matinee


DIE WALKÜRE {269}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [55] Uncut

Brünnhilde..............Frida Leider
Siegmund................Lauritz Melchior
Sieglinde...............Grete Stückgold
Wotan...................Ludwig Hofmann
Fricka..................Maria Olszewska
Hunding.................Emanuel List
Gerhilde................Phradie Wells
Grimgerde...............Philine Falco
Helmwige................Dorothee Manski
Ortlinde................Pearl Besuner
Rossweisse..............Ina Bourskaya
Schwertleite............Irra Petina
Siegrune................Elda Vettori
Waltraute...............Doris Doe

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

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune

Thomas Mann, in his remarkable essay on Wagner in "Past Masters." quotes the remark of a dazed and shaken conductor who had just conducted "Tristan": "That is no longer music!" One comes from a performance of any one of Wagner's greater works with the same sense of dazed incredulity, the same feeling that one has experienced something - some capturing of essences, some unique projection or reality - that transcends art. We are in the presence of one among those few supreme artists who are interpreters of "an eternal moment in which they have rested - who have stood still with time, halted upon the threshold of night and day."

Wagner himself seems to have felt something of this while at work upon certain extraordinary pages in his scores. Writing to the Princess Caroline Sayn-Wittgenstein, during his preoccupation with the music of "Die Walkure," he told her how the thing had racked him, "I became quite ill over it several times," he said, "and had to give it up." And then he added: "I am now in Act II, at the scene where Brünnhilde appears to Siegmund to tell him he must die - one can scarcely call this kind of thing "composition!" One scarcely can. But Wagner might justifiably have said of such inexplicable achievements of the creative will as the scene he mentions, and of a dozen others that he might have mentioned, what Dante says in the" Purgatorio": "Think, Reader, if within myself I marveled when I beheld, the thing itself stand still, and in the image it transformed itself."

For we are here in a region of the imagination where our instruments of registration and assessment are too blunt to serve. Like Dante, we can only marvel, as Wagner marveled, so he tells us, again and again at the things that he found himself recording: those thoughts which, as Emerson said, proceed from 'the mind of the mind," and bring with them their own miraculous power of communication. It is the recognition that we are in the presence of some such demonstration as this that makes one's experience of Wagner so different from any other that music can give us. The scene of which Wagner spoke - that scene in which Brünnhilde the Valkyr, the Messenger of fate and of the gods, appears before the doomed Siegmund in the mountain dusk to call the chosen hero to his death: how often one has sat before it, in dozens of performances of "Die Walküre," good, bad and terrible! Yet how unfailingly, at every repetition, it masters us with its sublimity, its conveyance of all the pathos and the mysterious majesty of death!

Yesterday it conquered one again, the more so by reason of the loftiness of its performance by Mme. Leider, by Mr. Melchior, by Mr. Bodanzky and the orchestra. The performance of the opera as a whole, given under the specially favoring conditions of the Metropolitan's cyclic presentation of the "Ring," was in the right vein throughout. The concentration, absorption, devotion of the artists was as obvious as it was moving. One might have wished, it is true, for a Wotan of greater tragic force, emotional thrust, intensity, than Mr. Hofmann is able to give us (are we never to hear again the unforgettable Wotan of Mr. Schorr, who is still a member of the Metropolitan troupe?). Mr. Hofmann has dignity and intelligence, but those virtues are not quite enough to equip a great Wotan.

The musical and noble Brünnhilde of Mme. Leider, the touching Sieglinde of Mme. Stückgold, Olszewska's regal and sumptuous Fricka, Mr. Melchior's admirably vocal Siegmund, Mr. List's voluminous Hunding. These were contributive factors in a performance of affecting exaltation. It was especially moving yesterday to note how deeply and sensitively Mr. Bodanzky felt the quality of Wagner's inspiration in the greatest pages of the score. In the marvelous scene between Brünnhilde and the fated Siegmund, and in the scene of Wotan's farewell - that music, so infinitely hackneyed, brings one's heart into one's throat and dims one's eyes by the wonder of its imaginative truth and its insupportable beauty.



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