[Met Performance] CID:12120
New production
Tannhäuser {64} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/29/1894.

(Debut: Olga Pevny
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 29, 1894
In Italian
New production


TANNHÄUSER {64}
Wagner-Wagner

Tannhäuser..............Francesco Vignas
Elisabeth...............Nellie Melba
Wolfram.................Mario Ancona
Venus...................Olga Pevny [Debut]
Hermann.................Pol Plançon
Walther.................N. Mastrobuono
Heinrich................Antonio Rinaldini
Biterolf................Lodovico Viviani
Reinmar.................Antonio De Vaschetti
Shepherd................Olimpia Guercia

Conductor...............Luigi Mancinelli

Director................Armand Castelmary

Tannhäuser received three performances in Italian this season.

Unsigned review in The New York Times

"TANNHÄUSER" AT THE OPERA.

The Parisian Version of the Wagner Music-Drama Presented.

"Tannhäuser," as prepared for the edification of the Parisians in 1861, was attempted at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. It was a very heavy undertaking, especially for a theatre whose company is organized on a plan antagonistic to the best artistic achievements in the Wagnerian music-drama. The first scene of the Paris version calls for all the resources of an established stock Opera House, and demands for its proper interpretation a ballet composed of accomplished pantomimists and a stage manager capable of comprehending and carrying out the intensely poetic ideas of the poet-composer. To add that the correct performance of "Tannhäuser" requires a company of singing actors, not mere masters and mistresses of the charming art of bel canto, is to repeat an axiom of art which has often been published in these columns.

In last night's performance of the work there was only one person who had thoroughly mastered the spirit of the evening's task, and she, unfortunately, was a German. It would have pointed the moral and adorned the tale much more effectually had she been French or Italian: for in "Tannhäuser" certainly nationality has nothing to do with the correctness or the performance. This was demonstrated by Mme. Melba's close approach to fitness for her part. However, the shortcomings of the performance were not so much individual as general. They were shortcomings of conception and were founded beyond doubt in ignorance of Wagner's proclaimed purposes. It is wholly unnecessary to presume that if all persons concerned in last night's production, including ballet master and stage manager, had been fully acquainted with Wagner's own directions as to the manner of performing "Tannhäuser," there would have been careless or intentionally neglectful treatment of his ideas.

It would be both unprofitable and uncharitable to enter upon a detailed account of the matters in which the production betrayed ignorance of the master's purposes. The treatment of what should have been a significant and interesting choreographic display in the first scene, the meaningless way in which the finale of the first act was handled, the general management of the minor personages, and the action of the chorus showed that all things were not working together for the good of those who loved Wagner. In the scenic background, in the costumes, and in the number and pictorial effectiveness of the supernumerary masses the managers evinced an earnest desire to do justice to the work. Failure was due to the lack of knowledge already referred to, and in some cases to individual temperament.



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