[Met Performance] CID:118800
Siegfried {168}
Ring Cycle [57] Uncut
. Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/19/1936.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 19, 1936 Matinee


SIEGFRIED {168}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [57] Uncut

Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Brünnhilde..............Gertrude Kappel
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Mime....................Marek Windheim
Alberich................Eduard Habich
Fafner..................Emanuel List
Forest Bird.............Editha Fleischer

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

Designer................Jonel Jorgulesco (Act III)

[Jorgulesco's design for Act III of Die Walküre from earlier in the season was incorporated into the Siegfried production at this performance.]

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the New York Herald Tribune

'Siegfried' Brings Third 'Ring' Opera to the Metropolitan

Much of "Siegfried's" greatness of mood and implication was realized for us at yesterday's performance, given in the course of the Metropolitan's special cycle before a houseful of engrossed and applausive Wagnerites. Save for the experienced Alberich of Mr. Habich, which is new to this season's activities, the members of the cast were old hands at the difficult task of materializing Wagner's dramatic and tonal poetry.

Mr. Melchior's exuberant Siegfried was brilliantly sung, and far more expertly acted than in earlier years at the Metropolitan; and his make-up and costuming of the part are admirable. The Wanderer of Mr. Schorr is unsurpassed in the lyric theater of our time. So, too, is Mr. Windheim's Mime, a masterpiece of make-up and characterization. Karin Branzell sang Erda with her usual authority and imagination. Miss Fleischer's Wald-Vogel proved to the hilt that Wagner was a studious and sympathetic ornithologist, and Mr. List's delivery of Fafner's "lasst mich schlafen!" reminded us that "Siegfried" is both humorous and sublime.

Mme. Kappel's bridal Brünnhilde, which I first heard a decade ago in Munich, remains a just and appealing embodiment of an intransigent role. Its grace, its dignity, its depth and tenderness and truth of feeling have lost nothing of their persuasive potency, even if the voice is less responsive than it was.

Mr. Bodanzky accomplished a performance of the score which had many impressive moments. Especially welcome and moving were the breadth of his tempi and the weighty eloquence of his phrasing in such crucial passages as the great climax of the Wanderer's interview with Erda - where the motive of the "World's Treasure" bears the music to a magnitude of utterance that has scarcely a parallel in the score, - and in the course of the interlude that plunges Siegfried and ourselves into Wagner's magnificent and engulfing tide of flames.

It is never easy to write with detachment of Wagner's "Siegfried" while one's ears and mind are still ablaze with the inebriating glory of that stupendous score. For "Siegfried" closes with a Third act which some of us are increasingly tempted to put at the head of all music that has aimed to speak with passionate and heroic greatness of tremendous things. In the three scenes of this towering Final Act of "Siegfried" the music takes on the quality of its own predominant image, and soars before us like a mountain-side in flames.

Wagner, when he completed it, was an ill and tired man, nearing his sixtieth year. Yet, as we listen to the mighty coursing of this insuperable music, one's vision of its creator, of the small, sick man, weary with strife and pain and passion and super-human labor, becomes gigantic like
the work itself, "the appearance of a god coming over it." His own creation, Siegfried the Life-giver, seems to have restored to him that superhuman power of which "Siegfried" was the issue; and this music, radiant with procreative ardor and immortal strength, assumes its place among the seven wonders of the creative mind.

No other music that Wagner wrote has quite this sky-shouldering ecstasy, this conquering and second strength, giving us the sense of some inexhaustible creative property in the sunlit woods and on the wind-swept mountain height of that incomparable world which Wagner has recaptured, some deathless and unfailing spring that has overflowed into the music, tilling it with that magical vitality and enchantment of which he alone knew the secret.

Yet this astonishing music is blent with a sense of Olympian grandeur and aloofness, of the terror and mysteriousness of Nature and of men's hearts, of those secrets of wisdom and destiny, death and rebirth and resurrection, with which the depths are charged: so that the visit of the doomed Wanderer to Erda the everlasting sibyl, luminous with hoarfrost in the mountain night, becomes that eminence on Wagner's complex and vast terrain from whence we see that the world is well designed. For through it and about it all are the miracles of Wagner the supreme magician; the tragic and enchanting poet in tones - Aeschylus and Shakespeare fused in one: Wagner the master of beautiful, exalting sound.

Listening to this music of imperishable and releasing beauty, I wondered if there might not, after all, be a touch of reason in the sublime delusion of Daniele Glauro, that "Art alone can bring men back to unity and peace."



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