[Met Performance] CID:115120
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {202} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/15/1934.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 15, 1934 Matinee


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {202}

Hans Sachs..............Friedrich Schorr
Eva.....................Lotte Lehmann
Walther von Stolzing....Max Lorenz
Magdalene...............Doris Doe
David...................Hans Clemens
Beckmesser..............Gustav Schützendorf
Pogner..................Emanuel List
Kothner.................Arnold Gabor
Vogelgesang.............Marek Windheim
Nachtigall..............Louis D'Angelo
Ortel...................Paolo Ananian
Zorn....................Angelo Badà
Moser...................Max Altglass
Eisslinger..............Giordano Paltrinieri
Foltz...................James Wolfe
Schwarz.................Arthur Anderson
Night Watchman..........Arnold Gabor

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

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the New YorkHerald Tribune

"Die Meistersinger with Lotte Lehmann"

The Metropolitan brought its matinee Wagner Cycle to a close with yesterday's performance of "Die Meistersinger," played before an immense congregation of the faithful followers of Richard the First. It was the fifth performance this season of the great comedy. But a Wagner Cycle performance is quite a different affair from those given in the ordinary course of the regular subscription: it proceeds in an atmosphere of its own, and its effect is different. For its special audience is creatively reactive, and contributes that responsive and essential element upon which Wagner so implicitly depended.

In addition to these factors, yesterday's occasion offered special features. Chief of these was the opportunity to witness Lotte Lehmann's first appearance in New York as Eva. Those of us who had known Mme. Lehmann's Eva abroad - in Munich and elsewhere - were scarcely surprised to find that this impersonation added an element of extraordinary salience to yesterday's performance. Mme. Lehmann, as a singing-actress, has the rare and priceless gift of bringing to the rôles that she interprets an inexplicable power of vitalization. She subjects them to that baffling process of musical and histrionic synthesis whose results we can recognize, but whose operations are, as mysterious to us as they doubtless are to the artist who exerts them.

It would be difficult to say exactly why it was that Mme. Lehmann, at her first entrance yesterday and with her [first] words, made one exclaim involuntarily to oneself, "But this is the real thing! This is Eva and the way she would have turned her head, and would have gone forward toward the eager young knight with whom she had been irrubrically flirting; and thus she would have sent the obliging Magdalene away on those transparent pretexts."

Mme. Lehmann is an adroit and resourceful actress; a singer who sings with brains and temperament and imagination; but the essential thing which she brings to her re-creative energies is not easily to be seized upon end pigeon-holed. It is something that transcends equipment. One remembers the answer of Diaghilev to a friend who asked him if he could explain in words the exact thing which enabled him to bring about his subtle synthesis of flesh and light and tonal vibration: "Je ne sais pas, je ne sais pas!" he answered. "Un tout petit peu de la connaissance, peut-être, et beaucoup de l'amour….Je ne sias pas." Perhaps Mme. Lehmann masks an answer as modest as that, and as deeply suggestive.

The other outstanding feature of yesterday's performance was the appearance in the cast for the first time this season of Mr. Schorr as Hans Sachs, for Mr. Schorr has not his equal in this part today, so far as I am aware. This is a magistral embodiment. Here unmistakable, is the matchless character of Wagner's play and music - the poet, the dreamer, the tragedian with a sense of humor; home-spun, yet fine-fibered; a being of fathomless tenderness, yet one who holds a birchrod over sentimentalism; a man of sorrows who has mastered his grief and does not take too seriously his resignation; who is mellow without softness, noble without offensiveness; tolerant, philosophic; a liberal and a modernist, yet a lover of that which is abiding in the past.

What a character Wagner has given us here, and how Mr. Schorr has learned to make it live for us. I doubt if he had ever before, at least in New York, delivered so beautifully as he did yesterday that monologue in which the music permits us to look so deeply into the spirit and the mind of Sachs - that which must always be the despair of any artist who is not at once an instinctive poet and a master of song, "Wie duftet doch der Flieder." And here, in yesterday's performance, Mr. Schorr was fittingly companioned by Mr. Bodanzky, who not only found the inevitable pace and phrasing for these unapproachable pages, but achieved the miracle of extracting poetry from those hard-boiled and dubious instrumental eggs, the members of the Metropolitan Orchestra.

Most of the other principals in the cast bad been heard in the season's earlier performances of "Die Meistersinger." Mr. Lorenz is an acceptable Walther, even he does occasionally do violence to Wagner's vocal line. The Pogner of Mr. List is more than acceptable - it has moments of being very good indeed. As for Mr. Schutzendorf, his Beckmesser has long been Metropolitan classic, though Mr. Schutzendorf exhibits a tendency to guy the part rather more than is justifiable. Mr. Clemens could not quite make us forget the David of the lamented George Meader, nor could Miss Doris Doe as Magdalene quite make us forget Miss Doris Doe. …mattered little in the sum total of yesterday's performance, which on the whole was moving and memorable, filled with the essential spirit of the marvelous work and conveying it influentially. Its deficiencies were obvious - perhaps, in happier days, they may be remedied. But the greatness of "Die Meistersinger" was brought home to us once more, and irresistibly.

We heard, recognizably, the great golden laughter that Wagner releases in this music. We felt the morning sun shine out of it and flood us with its warmth and kindliness and sweet serenity. And when, at the close of the second act, the rioters dispersed and the tumult died down, and the doors were closed and the lights put out, leaving the stage quite empty and still and dark, we saw the Night Watchman arrive on the scene with his lantern and his cow-horn, rubbing his eyes, a little frightened by what he had heard from a distance, and chanting his quavering call. The moon rose above the roofs of old Nuremberg sleeping in the heart of a forgotten Germany, while the murmuring orchestra reminded us of the brooding loveliness of the summer night; and once again, we realized that there is no such blend of humanity and tenderness and poetry in all music as this magical and deathless score, with its beauty and its wisdom, its incredible recapturing of the hue and fragrance of a vanished day, its perfect veracity and transcendent art.



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