[Met Performance] CID:115220
Götterdämmerung {120} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/22/1934.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 22, 1934


GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG {120}

Brünnhilde..............Frida Leider
Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Gunther.................Friedrich Schorr
Gutrune.................Dorothee Manski
Hagen...................Ludwig Hofmann
Waltraute...............Maria Olszewska
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
First Norn..............Irra Petina
Second Norn.............Phradie Wells
Third Norn..............Dorothee Manski
Woglinde................Editha Fleischer
Wellgunde...............Phradie Wells
Flosshilde..............Doris Doe
Vassal..................Max Altglass
Vassal..................Arnold Gabor

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

Review of Samuel Chotzinoff in the Evening Post

A Final "Götterdämmerung" Is Sung at Metropolitan Before Rapt Audience

Mr. Gatti-Casazza presented the last "Götterdämmerung" of the season at the Metropolitan last night. The cast included Melchior, Schorr, Hofmann, Schutzendorf, Leider, Fleischer, and Olszewska. Mr. Bodanzky conducted.

For the student of Wagner, "Götterdämmerung" is a workshop where he can actually see the transformation of the original themes. Here, before your eyes (or ears), age and sophistication suddenly seize upon a once simple leitmotif like the Rhinegold. Hagen sings it, calling his men together, and at once the short motto of two notes is weighed down by an oppressive malevolence. Sometimes the tail end of a familiar motive is made the beginning of a new one, as with the Friendship theme, which springs out of the final descending fifth in the Siegfried horn call. Everything changes constantly, and the transformations never cease until the final curtain. Even the remembrance of things past, as the characters recall them, is presented in a new guise. The "magic fire" burns with a new rhythm, and the love of Sieglinde appears deeper and more fateful in retrospect. Unlike the other "Ring" dramas, there is no stencil work in "Götterdämmerung."

The student can, of course, follow Wagner's creative manner at any kind of performance of "Götterdämmerung." But how much more thrilling it would be for him if the presentation equaled Wagner's tragedy in beauty, in grandeur and in subtlety. The perfection of a whole performance depends on the perfection of every detail. A couple of ailing trombonists can shatter the intended effect of a noble page in "Götterdämmerung," Kettle drums that sound like indistinct, heavy objects crashing through the roof can ruin the tremendous impressiveness of the male chorus in the second act. A Brünnhilde who emits shrieks when she has anything above F to sing cannot help destroying for us, for the moment, Wagner's musical line. Last night one was yanked out of one's heroic feeling for Brünnhilde and Siegfried when the latter led an unprepossessing cab horse across the stage. Never could the name of that horse have been Grane.

It is claimed that Wagner is better given at the Metropolitan than anywhere else in the world. That may be so. But there is such a thing as an ideal performance, the kind of which Wagner visions for us in his scores. In this ideal performance the Brünnhildes have voice like Rosa Ponselle and act like Olive Fremstad in her prime. The Siegfrieds look like Siegfrieds and sing, sometimes, like Melchior; the Hagens look and sing like Ludwig Hofmann, and the Woglinde is always Editha Fleischer. The ideal performance is, obviously, founded on a great orchestra with solo players of the first rank. And it is always directed by a great conductor.

But to get back to reality. Mr. Gatti's final "Götterdämmerung" seemed good enough for the great audience that filled every seat of the opera house. I suppose it was good enough for anybody, since there appear to be no finer proponents of the music drama than those who acted and sang its principal roles.



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