[Met Performance] CID:120680
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {212} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/12/1937.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 12, 1937 Matinee


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {212}
Wagner-Wagner

Hans Sachs..............Friedrich Schorr
Eva.....................Lotte Lehmann
Walther von Stolzing....Charles Kullman
Magdalene...............Karin Branzell
David...................Karl Laufkötter
Beckmesser..............Eduard Habich
Pogner..................Emanuel List
Kothner.................Julius Huehn
Vogelgesang.............Hans Clemens
Nachtigall..............Louis D'Angelo
Ortel...................Arnold Gabor
Zorn....................Angelo Badà
Moser...................Max Altglass
Eisslinger..............Giordano Paltrinieri
Foltz...................James Wolfe
Schwarz.................John Gurney
Night Watchman..........George Cehanovsky

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Choreographer...........George Balanchine

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg received three performances this season.

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the New York Herald Tribune

The Smith College Club Gives an Opera Party as a Benefit for Its Scholarship Fund

The Smith College Club of New York gave an opera party yesterday at the Metropolitan. The evident guests of honor were President Nielson of Smith College, and Mrs. Nielson. But there was another guest of honor wandering about the Opera House. He wasn't visible to anyone. But he could be heard singing - not in that queer, harsh voice with Saxon twang that is described by those who knew him in the flesh, but in the sublimating voices of many instruments and many singers uttering the most enchanting and blithest tunes that ever welled from a musician's mind.

The name of the invisible guest was Richard Wagner, and he had sent his loveliest and gayest and humanest score, "Die Meistersinger," to represent him for those who did not know that he was present - since he is no longer (as it is quaintly said) "alive."

There were some four thousand other persons in the house; and though the affair was a party, almost everybody had paid for the privilege of being present - almost everybody except those unrepentant deadheads, the music critics.

The opera party, a special matinee performance of "Die Meistersinger" was given for the benefit of the scholarship fund of the Smith College Club of New York. Fourteen students now in Smith have been aided by this fund.

It was an odd coincidence that the singer in yesterday's performance who sang the most important of the music's songs (for this opera about a prize-song is in itself an extended song in praise of song) was formerly, we understand, a teacher of music at Smith College. He was the Walther of the cast, Charles Kullman, a native of New Haven, and some of the Smith's alumnae in the audience probably remembered him as a member of the faculty at Northampton in 1928-29.

It is not every collegiate music teacher who is able to blossom forth in the space of seven or eight years as one of the principal tenors at the Metropolitan Opera, and who takes in his stride, during the summer interlude, the job of singing a major role under Toscanini at the Salzburg Festival. For Mr. Kullman sang Walther last year in the Maestro's already legendary production of "Die Meistersinger"; so that he entered the Metropolitan's Church of St. Katherine yesterday afternoon trailing dim but identifiable clouds of Arthurian glory.

This was Mr. Kullman's first appearance as Walther in New York; and although it would be excessive to hail him as the ideal and long-desired embodiment of Wagner's impetuous Franconian Knight, "frei und edler Ehe," nevertheless Mr. Kullman made Eva's lover an attractive and salient figure in the great poetic comedy. He lacked the grace and ease and distinction of bearing that would signalize the ideal Walther. He was a boyish figure, hesitant in bearing, a little timorous and awkward. But he was simple and unaffected, and he held the eye. One liked him. He had charm and dignity, despite his awkwardness, and his singing was agreeable and musicianly.

There was also a new David in yesterday's cast. Mr. Karl Laufkötter, whose Mime is observable in the current "Ring" Cycles at the Metropolitan. Mr. Laufkötter is one of the most engaging and veritable Davids I have encountered in many a year. He gives point a value to many things in the role which have been neglected recently at the Metropolitan. He is vital, magnetic. His enunciation of the text is clear and telling. And his makeup is admirable. He was an excellent foil yesterday to the Magdalena of Karin Branzell, who is among the few singing actresses I can recall who have been able to make credible the devotion of David - though she did not quite explain the remark of the lady behind me who was overheard to ask her companion, "Is this the Act when Venus appears?"

The other principals of the cast were in varying degrees familiar. Mr. Habich's Beckmesser, made known to us last season, is an expert characterization and his make-up is a comedic triumph. But some of us are still unreconciled to the loss of Gustav Schützendorf, the most irresistible Beckmesser of the present generation in America.

Mr. Bodanzky, when he wasn't in a hurry, deserved the outburst of applause which greeted him at the beginning of the Third Act.

Finally, we had the inimitable Sachs of Mr. Schorr, without whom a Metropolitan "Meistersinger" is now quite inconceivable. And there was Lotte Lehmann's unmatched Eva, which gives us the spiritual essence of a role that is often slighted, for it is most moving and true at precisely those moments when Wagner's music in the Third Act takes us suddenly and surprisingly below the shining surfaces of the comedy and shows its poignant humanity and its hidden depths.



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