[Met Performance] CID:115300
Parsifal {126} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/28/1934.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 28, 1934


PARSIFAL {126}
Wagner-Wagner

Parsifal................Lauritz Melchior
Kundry..................Frida Leider
Amfortas................Friedrich Schorr
Gurnemanz...............Ludwig Hofmann
Klingsor................Gustav Schützendorf
Titurel.................James Wolfe
Voice...................Doris Doe
First Esquire...........Helen Gleason
Second Esquire..........Philine Falco
Third Esquire...........Marek Windheim
Fourth Esquire..........Max Altglass
First Knight............Angelo Badà
Second Knight...........Louis D'Angelo
Flower Maidens: Queena Mario, Irra Petina, Rose Bampton,
Editha Fleischer, Phradie Wells, Doris Doe

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

Director................Wilhelm Von Wymetal Jr.
Designer................Joseph Urban

Parsifal received two performances this season.

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

'Parsifal" Given With a Strong Cast, Melchior in title role and Miss Leider as Kundry

The performance of Wagner's "Parsifal" given last night in the Metropolitan Opera House had half the character of a devotional offering and half that of an operatic performance with the usual attendant phenomena. The audience listened devoutly and without applause to the first act. The second act, which is better theatre, brought enthusiastic plaudits. After the third act an attempt at applause was discouraged by hissing, and a very large audience, much edified by Wagner's festival play, departed homeward.
Ordinarily this opera is given on special days which have religious associations, as will be the case with the Good Friday performance tomorrow afternoon. Was it change of venue, so to speak, which robbed the performance last night of its atmosphere?

There was a good cast, one which might have been bettered in certain individual instances, but, nevertheless, a cast that would have rated as exceptional in any lyric theatre. This cast was headed by Mr. Melchior, who learned his Parsifal years ago in Bayreuth, beginning in 1924, when the theatre first opened its doors after the war. There are Parsifals who have more illusion for the eye and who in the histrionic sense project more of the atmosphere of the rôle than Mr. Melchior did last night. Yet there is no gainsaying the well-grounded and authoritative character of the interpretation and the dramatic treatment of Wagner's text. Miss Leider was the Kundry, a rôle well and carefully studied, replete with admirable detail, distinguished by the native sincerity and eloquence of the artist. On the whole, this was the most striking portrayal of the evening.

Mr. Hofmann's Gurnemanz is an admirably straightforward and sincere reading; perhaps not with all the subtleties the text implies, but one of true eloquence and feeling. Of course, this rôle, like other great Wagnerian parts, is subject to many different readings. The rôle of Klingsor, on the other hand, is one in which the interpreter may swashbuckle. Mr. Schuetzendorf's Klingsor is an experienced veteran of black magic, which he works in a style which is rhetorical rather than observant of the most conservative usages of song.

But the opera's the thing. The magic of Wagner, even when his approach is most sophisticated, exerts its imperative sway. The old magician hypnotizes us once more, whether we are willing or not. The spectacle, hieratically unfolding, casts its spell, and the pages of the great Wagner, the incomparable dramatist and tone poet, are sufficiently potent to carry to victory a work of much greater inequalities than this one.

The audience last night responded again to Wagner's stage and Wagner's music, despite an inferior orchestral performance, with bad intonation and general hardness and unresilient quality of tone. The singers went through their appointed parts, some of them with warm and earnest feeling, others with an air of so many hours of hard work. This performance was given for the benefit of the Henry Street Settlement Music School. Would a holy day have given players and audience the cue for a more impressive reading? That, perhaps, can be answered tomorrow.



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