[Met Performance] CID:121390
Siegfried {174}
Ring Cycle [61]
Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/7/1937.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
April 7, 1937


SIEGFRIED {174}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [61]

Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Brünnhilde..............Kirsten Flagstad
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Doris Doe
Mime....................Karl Laufkötter
Alberich................Eduard Habich
Fafner..................Emanuel List
Forest Bird.............Stella Andreva

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

Review of Redfern Mason in the Boston Evening Transcript

Flagstad Receives Ovation

Audience is Roused to Enthusiasm by Fine Performance of "Siegfried"

The final scene of "Siegfried" as played by Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior last night will remain engraved on the minds of Bostonians who saw it as one of the greatest artistic experiences of their lives. It did not seem like an episode of the drama; we did not think of the artists as opera singers; we seemed to be the witnesses of one of the greatest chapters in the history of human kind.

Clad in her Valkyr mail, Brünnhilde lay on the rock where Wotan had left her, wrapped in an age-long sleep. Siegfried, gazing down from the blood-red cliff, looked upon the first woman his eyes had ever beheld. Silently, reverently, he drew nigh, as a worshiper might approach a goddess. He removed her helmet, took away her spear and, with his sword Nothung, he severed her corset. One divined from Melchior's attitude and manner that all the hero had imagined of the mother he had only known in dreams was embodied in the recumbent figure before him,

He leaned over and kissed her and remained for a space in a trance of rapture. Like a priestess awakened to the fulfillment of some high sacerdotal office, Brünnhilde rose to the half sitting posture and her first words were a greeting to the sun as the source of light and being. Her movements were sculptured hieratic. So, you thought, the Pythian might act when possessed of the god.

Her utterance was not diffident or tremulous, but rang like a triumphant salutation. I felt as if the Viking and Druid ancestors of a hundred generations were speaking through her. Well she knew that the man standing before her was the predestined hero, the one who with her was to overthrow an order that outlived its usefulness and, in its place, upbuild an order more august, more ideal.

It was like witnessing a lovemaking when the world was young. Flagstad did not let you forget that she was Valkyr and had in her veins the ichor of the gods. The divine and the "eternal womanly" strove together, and gradually, with a growing revelation of joyous surrender, Brünnhilde trembled into the arms of her mate.

This may not sound like what we are accustomed to regard as criticism. It is a dithyramb. But the highest duty, as it is the highest privilege of the writer about art, is to recognize genius, and in this love encounter that sent reserved Bostonians into a frenzy of enthusiasm, the duty and the privilege were plain to be seen.

America has seen many Brünnhildes; but this "King's Daughter of Norway" is for me the greatest of them all. And Melchior moved with nobility in her exalted presence. In the earlier acts, especially in the episodes with Mime, I could have wished he had shown more of the athlete, with chipcordy sinews and tense muscles but in the crowning glory of the final scene, we forgot all save his radiant gladness and the noble propriety of his attitude towards the heroine.

The gnarled and deceitful Mime of Karl Laufköter was a fine study of sheer perversity and Edward Habich's Alberich was own brother to it. The pair were like beings "unkindly knit"; George Bernard Shaw would see in them an illustration of the blighting effect of greed. Whatever the explanation, they belong to the mythology of the race.

The Wotan of "Siegfried" is Wotan in his decline and fall. But there is a grandeur of defeat and Friedrich Schorr portrays it with the art of a master limner of character. His staff shattered by the hero, he left the scene a broken god, but one recalls the lines of Milton about Satan and may say of the ruler of Asgard: "Nor did he seem less than archangel fallen."

Now, we reflected, he will consent to his own annihilation and leave the overlordship of the world to beings more exalted than himself.

In Wagner every part is important and it is a pleasure to be able to bear witness to the grave beauty of Karin Branzell's singing of the Erda discourse and to note that Emanuel List put a sorrowful dignity into the concluding utterances of Fafner.

Under Artur Bodanzky's direction the great music evolved from beauty to beauty. Indeed our debt to the orchestra is great, for in the "Ring" the instruments are a sort of conscience, reminding the audience of what underlies the words and giving pregnant hints of what is to follow.



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