[Met Performance] CID:120650
Das Rheingold {75}
Ring Cycle [59] Uncut
. Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/9/1937.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 9, 1937 Matinee


DAS RHEINGOLD {75}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [59] Uncut
Wagner-Wagner

Wotan...................Friedrich Schorr
Fricka..................Gertrud Rünger
Alberich................Eduard Habich
Loge....................René Maison
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Fasolt..................Ludwig Hofmann
Fafner..................Emanuel List
Freia...................Dorothee Manski
Froh....................Hans Clemens
Donner..................Julius Huehn
Mime....................Karl Laufkötter
Woglinde................Stella Andreva
Wellgunde...............Irra Petina
Flosshilde..............Doris Doe

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

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

Das Rheingold received three performances this season.

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the New York Herald Tribune

'Rheingold' Begins the 'Ring' Cycle Before a Sold-Out House at the Opera

It is always, for some of us, an awe-inspiring adventure no matter how often one has had it, to sit before "Das Rheingold" at the beginning of a '"Ring" Cycle. One sees, from the foothills, the nearer peaks of the great mountain range, knowing that the further summits tower beyond the shoulder of the neighboring hill, lifting their soaring immensities into the blue.

Greatness of dimension. said Burke, is a powerful cause of the sublime, But in the music of "Der Ring des Nibelungen" there is not only greatness of dimension, but an organizing capacity of enormous power and resourcefulness. The art of music offers nothing to compare with the vastness and intricacy of design and the sustained power of organization that Wagner achieved in the structure of the "Ring." The sheer immensity of the thing is enough, in itself, to stop one's breath - this quadruple dramatic symphony which requires some fourteen hours to traverse, in which the web of music is cumulatively spun for as long as it would take to play twelve symphonies of the length of Beethoven's Ninth.

But the musical immensity of the "Ring" is turned into a miracle by the fact that all its parts are coordinated elements of an incredibly intricate and unified pattern of tones, that the end is seen in the beginning and the beginning in the end. What musician, living or dead, would not have drawn back in dismay from the task of undertaking a fourteen-hour composition achieved throughout with the closeness and continuity of texture and the formal logic of the polyphonic Bach and the symphonic Beethoven, and with a richness and variety of substance unequalled in any enterprise that music has elsewhere adventured?

The "Ring" is far and away the most gigantic product of the creative imagination and the organizing will that was ever achieved by any artist. Admittedly the hand of its creator has faltered for a moment here and there; but so, it will probably be conceded, has the mightier hand that shaped humanity and the flawed and treacherous earth.

This amazing cosmos of the musico-dramatic mind, this "Ring" of Wagner's, is not only the hugest thing ever attempted by any creative will, but it is also, in the ultimate sense of the word, the greatest. Only the "Divina Commedia" and Goethe s "Faust" and some of the Greek plays can be compared with it. But they exist in one dimension only; the "Ring" exists in two. And for range and power of expression, Wagner's Tetralogy stands alone.

No wonder the sense of this transcendent greatness overwhelms us as we sit again in the presence of "Das Rheingold," and hear the stirring of the immemorial river's twilit depths
and know that at the close of "Götterdämmerung," with the vast tragedy played to its predestined end, the timeless river will be flowing quietly beneath the blazing stronghold of the gods - a symbol, if you choose, of man's supremacy over destiny and time.

"Das Rheingold" has its own peculiar character and strength and beauty as an utterance of Wagner's genius. Nowhere else in his greater works is he as elemental and direct. Wagner in this score is more obviously than elsewhere Beethoven's spiritual son. How the responsive Ludwig would have rejoiced in this score with different and unique music, which he would have understood and loved!

The Metropolitan has habitually done well with "Rheingold." It has often given zestful accounts of the difficult work; and Tuesday was, in most respects, a spirited and full-bodied performance. Mr. Schorr, as usual, was its dominating figure, as he should be. It is still a moving experience to hear him, as Wotan, greet the setting sun that pours its splendor on Valhalla's treacherous walls and lights the gods and goddesses to their approaching doom, with the climax of the sublime Abendlied over the great chords of the tubas at "Folge mir, Frau! In Walhall wohne mit mir!"

But Fricka could not quite fellow him, in any but the most obvious sense. For this Fricka (the Metropolitan's recent acquisition, Mme. Gertrud Ruenger) was not, one would have said, of royal lineage. She was commonplace in pose, in bearing, in aspect, in lyric speech - a plebeian among divinities, oddly dressed in an orange-colored kimonos. Has the Metropolitan's new stage director a prejudice, one wonders, against the appropriately regal cloaks that its Frickas used to wear? And why is Miss Manski, as Freia, allowed to garb herself in what appeared to the male eye to be an accordion-pleated chiffon gown, about as appropriate for Freia as a tail-coat for Alberich? The time is coming when the Metropolitan will find it desirable to pay some controlling attention to the costuming of its principals.

But these things. and others, may be forgiven - disrupting to illusion though they were - when one remembers the veracious and authoritative Loge of Mr. Maison, Mr. Habich's superbly impassioned and malevolent Alberich, the Erda of Karin Branzell, the well sung Donner of Mr. Huhen and Mr. Bodanzky's affectionate conducting of the magical, endearing score.



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