[Met Performance] CID:116510
Die Walküre {273} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/2/1935., Broadcast

(Debut: Kirsten Flagstad
Broadcast
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 2, 1935 Matinee Broadcast


DIE WALKÜRE {273}

Brünnhilde..............Gertrude Kappel
Siegmund................Paul Althouse
Sieglinde...............Kirsten Flagstad [Debut]
Wotan...................Friedrich Schorr
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 by Lawrence Gilman in the New York Herald Tribune:

A New Wagner Singer Makes Her American Debut at the Metropolitan

It is a pleasure to salute in Mme. Kirsten Flagstad, the Metropolitan's new dramatic soprano, an artist of surprising and delightful quality. Mme. Flagstad, who made her American debut yesterday afternoon as Sieglinde, has come to us without benefit of ballyhoo. Her name was unfamiliar here except to a few observers on the critical watch-towers who knew that this young Norwegian from Oslo had sung at Bayreuth during the last two seasons (Ortlinde and the Third Norn in 1933, Sieglinde and Gutrune in 1934), and that experienced observers who had heard her in Europe spoke well of her. Yesterday's audience was therefore unprepared for the disclosure that awaited them, and to which they paid frequent tributes of enthusiastic recognition.

Mme. Flagstad is that rare avis in the Wagnerian woods - a singer with a voice, with looks, with youth. She is not merely another of those autumnal sopranos who passed their prime when the Kaiser was a boy, and whose waistlines have gone to that bourne from which no slenderness returneth. I cannot swear that Mme. Flagstad is in her thirties, but the point is that she looks as if she were, and sings as if she were. The voice itself is both lovely and puissant. In its deeper register it is movingly warm and rich and expressive, and yesterday it recalled to wistful Wagnerites the irrecoverable magic of Olive the immortal. [The reference is to Olive Fremstad.] The upper voice is powerful and true, and does not harden under stress.

The singing that we heard yesterday is that of a musician with taste and brains and sensibility, with poetic and dramatic insight. It was heartening, for example, to encounter a Sieglinde sufficiently imaginative to give their due effect to such significant details as the dream-like quality of tone and phrasing which should imbue the wonderful passage in which Sieglinde gropes for her memory of her brother's voice in childhood, and finds it in the recognition of her own clear tones as they echoed back to her from the evening woods. Her acting is noteworthy for its restraint and poise. She does not indulge in those imbecile operatic gestures which Wagner detested - he called them "swimming exercises." Mme. Flagstad expresses volumes with a turn of the head of a lifting of the hand. She was at times a bit inflexible yesterday; but that may possibly have due to nervousness.

She is solacing to the eye - comely and slim, and sweet of countenance. "I still need a Sieglinde!" wrote Wagner despairingly to a friend while he was casting the "Ring" for Bayreuth sixty years ago. "That need," he added, "is a calamity - for she must be slender." Wagner knew his Germans. Yesterday was one of those comparatively rare occasions when the exigent Richard might have witnessed with happiness an embodiment of his Sieglinde. For this was a beautiful and illusive re-creation, poignant and sensitive throughout, and crowned in its greater moments with an authentic exaltation.

The rest of the cast was familiar and admirable. Siegmund is Mr. Althouse's most successful Wagnerian achievement, and yesterday he companioned responsively the new Sieglinde. The others were at their most eloquent and effective. The performance as a whole gave us a memorable "Walküre," one in the best tradition of our times, responsive to the mighty tremor of Wagner the Titan.

Photograph of Kirsten Flagstad as Sieglinde,
taken by Carlo Edwards the afternoon of her debut.



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