[Met Performance] CID:119030
Fidelio {58} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/7/1936., Broadcast


Metropolitan Opera House
March 7, 1936 Matinee Broadcast


Leonore.................Kirsten Flagstad
Florestan...............René Maison
Don Pizarro.............Ludwig Hofmann
Rocco...................Emanuel List
Marzelline..............Editha Fleischer
Jaquino.................Hans Clemens
Don Fernando............Julius Huehn
First Prisoner..........Max Altglass
Second Prisoner.........Arnold Gabor

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Designer................Joseph Urban

[The dialogue was performed with orchestral accompaniment composed by Artur Bodanzky.]

Fidelio received three performances this season.

Review of B. H. Haggin in The Brooklyn Eagle

As the dust kicked up by the dozens and dozens of new singers has settled, it has become apparent that Mr. Johnson's most important acquisition this year is not a singer but a stage manager, Leopold Sachse. Mr. Sachse has the task of making the German operas dramatically intelligible and effective-to put very simply what, by the very nature of the operatic form, is difficult and complex. There have been indications-most notably in the first act of "Fidelio," he has given the Metropolitan one of its notable productions-one in which everything that happens on the stage is part of a progression that is not only coherent in itself but perfectly adjusted to the music-which is the difficult and complex part of the task.

On Saturday afternoon the production was deprived by accidents of the complete effectiveness that will come with repetition and complete security. There were one or two minor accidents in stage business, there was a major accident in Kirsten Flagstad's lapse of memory in the Allegro portion of her first act aria-only a momentary lapse, but one that left her insecure and tentative in the climax that called for the utmost assurance and intensity. Until then, however, she had sung with characteristic loveliness of tone and richness of feeling; and once she had recovered from the accident her singing rose to breathtaking heights of tonal splendor. And her dramatic realization of her role-admirably wrought by Mr. Sachse in terms of her individual qualities-I found extremely effective and moving.

There was excellent work by other principals, all of it fitting into the single progression of Mr. Sachse's conception-a Rocco of Emanuel List that was all simplicity and goodness, a Don Pizarro of Ludwig Hofmann that was the veritable embodiment of malignancy, the delightful Marzelline of Editha Fleischer and Jacquino of Hans Clemens. But Julius Huehn's face was left much too youthful for his role of Don Fernando, and Rene Maison's peculiarly metallic voice did the role of Florestan no good.

The production also gave evidence of careful preparation by Artur Bodanzky in the quality of the ensemble, but the playing of the orchestra was vastly inferior to the singing of principals and chorus. This was one inadequacy in the performance of the "Leonora" No. 3 Overture between the two scenes of the second act; the other was Mr. Bodanzky's conception, which was now over-deliberately dramatic, now uncontrolled. As for the recitatives that he substituted for Beethoven's spoken dialogue, I can see possible reasons for them-the fact that music holds the attention of an audience in a way that words spoken in a foreign language might not, and permits words to be emphasized by spacing and distention in time. Nevertheless I think they were for Beethoven to introduce or not; and he chose not. Of the music itself-the greatest in any opera outside of Mozart's-I will have more to say at a later time.

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