[Met Performance] CID:122800
Tannhäuser {299} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/3/1938.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 3, 1938 Matinee


TANNHÄUSER {299}

Tannhäuser..............Lauritz Melchior
Elisabeth...............Irene Jessner
Wolfram.................Lawrence Tibbett
Venus...................Karin Branzell
Hermann.................Ludwig Hofmann
Walther.................Karl Laufkötter
Heinrich................Max Altglass
Biterolf................Adolf Vogel
Reinmar.................James Wolfe
Shepherd................Marita Farell

Act I Bacchanale - Arranged by George Balanchine
Rabana Hasburgh, Charles Laskey, American Ballet Ensembel
Three Graces: Kathryn Mullowny, Daphne Vane, Elise Reiman

Conductor...............Maurice Abravanel

Review of Samuel Chotzinoff in the Post

Matinee Audience Hears "Tannhäuser" at the Met

First of Wagner Cycle for Afternoons Leaves Something to Be Desired

At the Metropolitan yesterday afternoon the devout sat down to "Tannhäuser," their first portion of the current matinee Wagner Cycle. Undoubtedly there must be something to the word "cycle." For while yesterday's performance of "Tannhäuser" differed from the preceding ones in the last-minute substitution of Mme. Irene Jessner for Mme. Lotte Lehmann in the part of Elisabeth, there was that attitude of absorption and reverence on the part of the customers that seems to obtain at a "cycle" representation alone.

Although disappointment over Mme. Lehmann's absence must have been keen, Mme. Jessner succeeded in dulling the edge once she had put behind her the "Dich Theure Halle," an air which she delivered without exciting one to share her rapture at the sight, once more, of the Wartburg auditorium. That nervous moment over - for the aria is delivered "cold," as they say on the stage - Mme. Jessner faced the erring Tannhäuser with evidence of the emotions proper to a meeting after an estrangement, and sang her music feelingly.

As Venus Mme. Branzell accomplished some excellent singing, yet it cannot be said that the characterization was one of an irresistible wanton. A singer and a poet, Tannhäuser was not the man to be easily beguiled by a woman, even of a goddess, of ordinary sex allure. Then, too, the pull of the saintly Elisabeth must also be taken in account, so that, adding up everything, Venus must needs have been an extraordinary enchantress, a combination, perhaps of Helen, Cleopatra and our own Miss West. Mme. Branzell's Venus did not approximate this combination. Nor was Mr. Melchior, the Tannhäuser, as perturbed as he should have been when he struggled to free himself from Mme. Branzell's chaste spell. As a result, the end of the first scene appeared rather tame and put one in mind of the parting of bourgeois lovers in a high-class atmospheric apartment on Central Park West.

The men in the case were generally sonorous and effective. Mr. Hofmann making an impressive Landgraf and Mr. Tibbett a sincere and picturesque Wolfram. Perhaps a minor flaw was the Young Shepherd of Mme. Marita Farell, whose voice was unsteady and whose musicianship was not above suspicion. Mr. de Abravanel's conduct of the music hardly met the demands of a festival performance. If it lacked anything, it was an insight into the musical and dramatic aspects of the score. Surely "Tannhäuser" is a more significant work than it was made to appear yesterday.



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