[Met Performance] CID:119190
Parsifal {132} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/20/1936.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 20, 1936 Matinee


PARSIFAL {132}
Wagner-Wagner

Parsifal................Lauritz Melchior
Kundry..................Kirsten Flagstad
Amfortas................Friedrich Schorr
Gurnemanz...............Emanuel List
Klingsor................Eduard Habich
Titurel.................James Wolfe
Voice...................Doris Doe
First Esquire...........Helen Gleason
Second Esquire..........Helen Olheim
Third Esquire...........Marek Windheim
Fourth Esquire..........Max Altglass
First Knight............Angelo BadÓ
Second Knight...........Louis D'Angelo
Flower Maidens: Josephine Antoine, Irra Petina, Helen Olheim,
Hilda Burke, Thelma Votipka, Doris Doe

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

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

Parsifal received three performances this season.


Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

'PARSIFAL' IS GIVEN AT METROPOLITAN

Sovereign Pulse of Drama Has Audience Enthralled at Season's First Hearing

FINE BALANCE ACHIEVED

Principals, Ensemble, Sets and Orchestra Contribute to Magic of Legend

The eloquent and very impressive performance of Wagner's "Parsifal" yesterday afternoon in the Metropolitan Opera House held a numerous audience for long hours under its spell. Here is a music drama which is outside the present day and which violates most of the precepts of effective theatre. Its tempo is that of another age, or rather of another world. Generations of commentators have found fault with its confusion of philosophic elements and it demands much of the listener if he desires to penetrate very deeply into the intricate meanings of the text and the expressive symbols of the music. It is all beside the mark when the character and the genius of the work are felt as a whole. Perhaps no one of Wagner's creations is more debatable from certain points of view than this one and no one a more conclusive manifestation of the sovereign power of genius.

The performance was beautifully conceived and coordinated in its factors. Not only the tempi of the conductor, but the tempi on the stage were those demanded by music and situation. One might except a detail such as the quick marching of the boys in the cathedral scene, which some would find relief and logical contrast with the graver movements of the men, while others would consider this a disturbing rhythm. The performance in its entirety had a beauty and feeling that placed it among the highest achievements of the season.

The Parsifal of Mr. Melchior, studied at Bayreuth, is one of the Wagnerian parts which he understands most profoundly. Every meaning of the text is projected in the tone. Mme. Flagstad's Kundry has ripened and gained in fullness and significance of expression since last season, when it was already a remarkable achievement.

As Gurnemanz, Mr. List has provided grounds for astonishment on the part of his many admirers. Here and there he orates the text and clips his consonants. In general, and especially in the final scenes, he gives the whole character a gentleness and wisdom not often achieved. The magnificent voice can sound with a purely physical resonance; yesterday, in the Good Friday scene, it took on a luminousness, radiance and carrying power in soft passages which compassed the heights of the art of song. The whole tableau in this scene, and the contribution of each of its several exponents, with Mr. Bodanzky's exceptional treatment of the orchestra, became one of the great moments of the season.

Mr. Habich's Klingsor is not as dramatic as his Alberich, for example, of the "Ring." It is a little conventional, but is wholly in place, and, at least, suitable foil for the presences of Parsifal and Kundry. The smaller parts were admirably taken. Each knight and esquire gave his full measure of meaning, but without obtrusiveness and always with the conception of the scene as a whole. Fresh voices were heard in the scene of the flower maidens.

There were some slight changes in stage business, although in general the old and excellent action was adhered to. The custom at the Metropolitan of letting the curtain fall when Gurnemanz and Parsifal walk through the forest is actually much more effective than the Wagnerian direction which involves moving scenery. There is a finer picture, while the orchestra plays, in the imagination, and Wagner's orchestra bridges the distance from the forest glade to the halls of Montsalvat better than any theatrical device could do.

Final and comprehensive compliments of the occasion go to Mr. Bodanzky and his admirably prepared orchestra. The fusion and balance of tone, the expressiveness of individual passages as well as ensemble effect were a treat to the ear, but the quality of the tone was the vehicle of feeling which suffused the whole occasion. The audience was seized by this interpretation. Following tradition, there was no applause after the first and last acts, but enthusiasm made itself audible in unmistakable fashion after the Klingsor and Kundry scenes, when the soloists came before the curtain.




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