[Met Performance] CID:120210
Der Fliegende Holländer {37} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/7/1937.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 7, 1937 Matinee


DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER {37}
Wagner-Wagner

Dutchman................Friedrich Schorr
Senta...................Kirsten Flagstad
Erik....................Charles Kullman
Daland..................Emanuel List
Mary....................Kerstin Thorborg
Steersman...............Hans Clemens

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Designer................Serge Soudeikine

Der Fliegende Holländer received four performances this season.

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

Metropolitan Revives Early Wagner Opera

'The Flying Dutchman' Is Presented After 5 Years With Schorr in Title Role

Flagstad Heard as Senta

Benefit Matinee Is Given for Crittenton League

Five years to the day since he had last set sail from the neighborhood of Seventh Avenue and Fortieth Street, Wagner's "Flying Dutchman," as memorably impersonated by Friedrich Schorr, disembarked on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House to meet a new Senta. Kirsten Flagstad, who was singing the role publicly for the first time in her career, gave a performance which probably can be regarded as one of the Metropolitan's best efforts thus far in behalf of Wagner's fourth opera.

Except for Hans Clemens, who had sung the musically-minded Steersman in the last performance here of "Der Fliegende Hollander" on January 7, 1932, when Maria Jeritza was the Senta, the other principals were singing their respective roles for the first time in this house, and Erik proved to be Mr. Kullman's first Wagnerian assignment here. The settings, however, were those designed by Sergei Soudeikine for the production of 1930 to 1932.

Heard Here First in 1877

Yesterday's revival might almost have been considered as an observance of the sixtieth anniversary of the first hearing of "Der Fliegende Hollander" in New York, at the Academy of Music on January 26, 1877. It first reached the Metropolitan on November 27, 1889, and has been revived there in 1899-1900, 1907-08 and on November 1, 1930, but has never stayed in the repertoire for more than two consecutive regular sessions.

There are reasons for this. The twenty-eight-year-old Wagner, who finished "Der Fliegende Hollander" in the early 1840's, had still to write "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin" before his distinctive epoch of musical genius was fully developed, and it is not surprising that a considerable part of the score should reflect the influence of its own time and its antecedents. Some of it is conventional opera of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, not disdaining customs and clichés of the period; some of it looks forward to "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin," and some of it offers anticipations of the still later Wagner. Mr. Gilman warned his readers in reviewing the 1930 production that there are a few measures that actually are the work of the late Wagner, as he rewrote the close of the overture and the opera in 1862 and revised the overture in 1860.

Contrasts and Sentiment

And yet, with its contrasts of conventionality with genius, occasional sentimentality with propulsive power, platitude with eloquence, the positive elements, as in 1930, seemed to outweigh the negative in the present production. "Der Fliegende Hollander" has its tlongueurs, it's perilous when the action is naive rather than dramatically convincing; its features which tend to tax the listener's imagination - operatic navigation is hard to manage effectively - but yet much of the score can speak freshly and eloquently after not much less than a century, and the work as a whole can surmount its obvious and undeniable drawbacks and impress its hearers as music and drama.

It was able to do so yesterday to a greater extent than six years ago, possessing the major asset of the previous production, the incomparable Dutchman of Mr. Schorr, and a new one in Mme. Flagstad's Senta, plus an orchestra that has made a marked improvement over the work of the ensemble which played under Mr. Bodanzky when the opera was last heard here, It would be pushing enthusiasm too far to say that Mme. Flagstad's first impersonation of a role of her own nationality is yet entirely on a par with her Isolde or her Brünnhilde, in which she has set a standard, hard for any one, even herself, to emulate. Yet it was a memorable impersonation, vivid and intent, delighting a listener's ears and strongly appealing to his imagination, Senta, indeed, such as Wagner himself might have had in mind.

Ballad in Second Act

There were times, as in the ballad In the second act, when Mme. Flagstad's voice seemed not entirely oblivious of intensive concert and operatic activity, strength and clarity and concentrated expressiveness, The Norwegian soprano's essential musicianship was strikingly indicated in the duets of the second act, in an intensity of force and expressiveness reaching its culmination at the point where the music and the situation called for the climax. And her final proclamation, "Hier steh ich, treau dir bis zum Tod!" had an unforgettably stirring magnificence. There were moments when it seemed that she had not yet entirely grown into the role, but the intensity of feeling which is its major characteristic was reflected with full conviction.

Yet, as before, the focus of the drama and the outstanding feature of the performance as a whole was to be found in the superb Dutchman of Mr. Schorr, whose voice, fortunately, had overcome the fatigue which has been noticeable once or twice during the last fortnight, and had the power, volume and quality which marks it in its best estate, while the style, phrasing and vocal coloring of his singing were those of a thorough artist, thoroughly understanding and completely realizing the music and the drama. His costume and appearance, somber and imposing, again reflected the dominating atmosphere, and his musical utterance was potently convincing. As an instance, one might cite the overwhelming despair of his cry "Verloren! Verloren!" in the final scene, when he is struck with a doubt of Senta's fidelity.

List in Role of Deland

Mr. List, not always in his best voice, gave an effective impersonation of the hearty, affectionate, yet designing, father, Deland. Mme. Thorborg did good work, rather better dramatically than vocally, as Mary, and Mr. Kullman sang very commendably, after disposing of some initial huskiness, and pronounced the text with unusual clarity, while he made the not very grateful role as credible as it allows. Mr. Clemens sang agreeably, with some tonal unevenness as the helmsman.

Mr. Bodanzky merited much praise for the general spirit and expressiveness of the performance, considered as a whole, and the orchestra continued in the much improved form which has given devout Wagnerians recent reasons for thanks. The chorus was in good form. The stage direction was generally intelligent. In the scenery one could note improved cloud effects, while the ships were about as convincing as operatic ships generally are. From the left front of the parquet it could not be told whether or not the Dutchman's ship, sank at sea or whether the apparitions of the two protagonists rose heavenward, although there was the prescribed sunset. Still it would be ungrateful to stress this difficult scenic point in a generally praise-worthy revival.



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