[Met Performance] CID:118300
Götterdämmerung {124} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/11/1936., Broadcast


Metropolitan Opera House
January 11, 1936 Matinee Broadcast


Brünnhilde..............Marjorie Lawrence
Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Gunther.................Friedrich Schorr
Gutrune.................Dorothee Manski
Hagen...................Ludwig Hofmann
Waltraute...............Kathryn Meisle
Alberich................Eduard Habich
First Norn..............Doris Doe
Second Norn.............Irra Petina
Third Norn..............Dorothee Manski
Woglinde................Editha Fleischer
Wellgunde...............Irra Petina
Flosshilde..............Doris Doe
Vassal..................Max Altglass
Vassal..................Arnold Gabor

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Set designer............Hans Kautsky

Götterdämmerung received four performances this season.

[The Act III setting from Jorgulesco's new production of Die Walküre, introduced into Siegfried on February 19, was not incorporated into Götterdämmerung during the Prologue and Act I, Scene 2.]

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune

Brünnhilde and Grane Take a Ride in 'The Dusk of the Gods'

The spirit of adventure is abroad in the Metropolitan Opera House this season; and watchful observers among the audience at yesterday's "Götterdämmerung" began to suspect that something unusual was in store for them when they noticed that Miss Marjorie Lawrence, the new Brünnhilde of the cast, wore a divided skirt when she appeared at the beginning of the Immolation Scene. If they were by nature exceptionally suspicious, they sat up a bit straighter when Brünnhilde, standing beside the slain Siegfried, spread her cloak upon his body- an expressive but unusual bit of business. But probably not even the best guessers among the audience suspected what Miss Lawrence was going to do at the end of the scene. What she did was to make a brave attempt at carrying out Wagner's stage directions at that point; and every perfect Wagnerite who knows his "Götterdämmerung" will realize that Miss Lawrence undertook a large order.

At the close of Brünnhilde's sublime soliloquy, she prepares to join her dead hero on the funeral pyre, in order that she may fulfill the last requirement which shall make her sibylline vision a reality. She draws the Ring from Siegfried's finger, and puts it on her own, to be recovered from her ashes by the waiting river and the Rhine Daughters, who will cherish forever the cleansed and purified gold. She turns toward the back, where Siegfried's body has already been laid upon the flower-strewn pyre. She seizes a great firebrand from one of the staring vassals, and hurls it among the logs, which break into sudden flame. Two young men bring forward her horse. She goes to it, quickly unbridles it, bends to it affectionately, addressee it. In rising exultation, she cries aloud their joint greeting to the dead Siegfried, in music that almost stills the heart by the sweep and splendor of its transfigured ecstasy. Then, says the pathetically trusting Wagner in his stage directions: She has sprung onto the horse, and with one leap he takes her into the burning pile of logs [the funeral pyre is at the back of the stage, in full view of the audience]. The fire immediately blazes up, so that the flames fill the whole interior of the hall."

Confronting those instructions, stage directors and Brünnhildes at the Metropolitan, and in most other opera houses, have simply thrown up their hands. Even at Bayreuth, and in recent years at the Metropolitan, the problem has been solved by the brilliant expedient of having Brünnhilde lead Grane gingerly away into the wings after her final "Selig grüsst dish dein Weib!" - which, of course, is no solution at all. But obviously Miss Marjorie Lawrence and Herr Leopold Sachse, the Metropolitan's new stage director have small patience with such timorous evasions; and they proceeded to make history yesterday afternoon by fulfilling Wagner's wishes in this instance at least so far, in all likelihood, it is humanly possible to do so. The audience, exalted by Wagner's tremendous crescendo of mood and action, were startled to see that Brünnhilde had mounted Grane and was riding him fearlessly across the stage.

It is true that Miss Lawrence and Grane did not completely follow Wagner's instructions. They did not leap into the blazing pyre: Miss Lawrence turned her faithful steed sharply to the audience's left and disappeared through the wings in the general direction of Mr. Edward Johnson's office - where, no doubt, they were duly thanked and comforted by a lump of sugar and a beaker of mead. But what would you? It may be said that, since the blazing pyre was within easy leaping distance of Grane and Brünnhilde, it must have been a bit difficult to explain afterward to Siegfried, over the nectar and ambrosia, why she and Grane had not taken the straightaway course to their flaming destination instead of turning left to Mr. Johnson's office. But let us deal with one obstacle at a time. It is something to fulfill even half of Wagner's most preposterous stage direction: and, after all, we do not want to part with Miss Lawrence just yet. She is much too vivid and promising an artist.

For it should be said without further ado that this newest singer of Wagner's greater heroines is discerning and vital and alert. She has temperament and brains. She has a beautiful profile. She has an admirable sense of costume, a feeling for the stage, for the meaning of words and notes. Her voice, as I heard it yesterday, did not have quite the quality that I had hoped for. It is not precisely a beautiful voice, nor a deeply expressive one. But Miss Lawrence is scandalously young. She is said to be only twenty-eight. And great Brünnhildes of twenty-eight are as rare as Arctic nightingales.

Neither Miss Lawrence nor Grane will take it amiss, I hope, if it is noted here, for the sake of the record, that once upon a time Brünnhilde and a horse did make it. That was at Munich, in 1881, when the great Therese Vogel staggered the audience at a "Götterdämmerung" performance by leaping upon the back of Grane (who had been a favorite charger of the Emperor Maximilian), galloping straight across the stage, and riding - apparently - into the very heart of the flames. There is more that might he said of yesterday's "Götterdämmerung" performance. But there will be other opportunities. It is not every day that Brünnhilde goes bareback-riding in full view of a Metropolitan audience.

Rebroadcast on Sirius Metropolitan Opera
Available for streaming at Met Opera on Demand

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).