[Met Performance] CID:122970
Siegfried {178} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/15/1938.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 15, 1938


Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Brünnhilde..............Kirsten Flagstad
Wanderer................Ludwig Hofmann
Erda....................Anna Kaskas
Mime....................Karl Laufkötter
Alberich................Adolf Vogel
Fafner..................Emanuel List
Forest Bird.............Natalie Bodanya

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

Review of Linton Martin in the Philadelphia Inquirer


Not until late last night did an enraptured Siegfried, and an equally enraptured - as well as overflowing - audience first behold and hail Brünnhilde sleeping serenely beneath her fir tree on the stage of the Academy. It was along about the time the ordinary opera would be over.

But this was no ordinary opera, and no ordinary occasion, with the incomparable Kirsten Flagstad making her first Brünnhilde appearance here, and Lauritz Melchior as the outstanding artist of today in the title role, when the Metropolitan Opera Association presented Richard Wagner's "Siegfried" as the sixth of its eight offerings here for the current season.

The house had been sold out for days and even weeks in advance of the event. And not without reason. For though this was Flagstad's first Philadelphia appearance in any of the three Brünnhilde roles in Wagner's tremendous and towering Tetralogy of the Nibelungen Ring cycle, opera enthusiasts here knew what to expect and garnered gorgeously of her artistry.


Madame Flagstad and Mr. Melchior have been Wagner's tragic victims and dramatic exponents of romantic passion four time before in Philadelphia on the occasion of Flagstad's debut in this city in "Tristan und Isolde" on March 3, 1936, when she sang Sieglinde to his Siegmund, in "Die Walküre" on January 26 last year, and the following March in "Lohengrin," and last December 21, again in the "Tristan und Isolde." But the "Siegfried" Brünnhilde, brief though it was offered new and exciting evidence of the superb splendor of her singing, her spaciousness of style and epic eloquence of emotional expression.

Before Madame Flagstad was awakened from her enchanted slumber of years by Mr. Melchior's prolonged if pure kiss in the ultimate episode of the opera, and for that ecstatic love duet, the evening had not been without its thrills and excitements. For "Siegfried," in its Olympian majesty of the Wanderer's godhood, the grotesque humor of the Mime and Alberich scenes, the lusty vigor of the forging scene, such engaging exhibits of the Nibelungen zoo as the Dragon, the forest bird and the bear, the mystic Erda scene, and the awe and rapture as Siegfried tops the flaming mountain - in these and other episodes "Siegfried" occupies a place apart in the Wagnerian dramas, and they were made alive and illuminated last night.


Mr. Melchior was no less than magnificent dramatically and vocally, in the forge scene, in the fight with Fafner, and in the awakening of Brünnhilde, and the immediately ensuing love duet at the end of the opera. But he was by no means alone in earning honors among the male members of the cast.

Ludwig Hofmann, who deeply impressed when he first sang the Wanderer here when "Siegfried" was last given in Philadelphia on January 17, 1933, with Rudolf Laubenthal in the title role, again made the most of that role last night. Karl Laufkötter, a newcomer as Mime, capitally combined mirth with malice as the dwarf, and Adolf Vogel, also new as Alberich, was fearsome and effective. There was a substitute but fairly satisfactory Erda, with Anna Kaskas suddenly replacing Karin Branzell in that role. Natalie Bodanya was the garrulous forest bird, and Emanuel List sonorously megaphoned the music of Fafner.

Artur Bodanzky conducted in inspired fashion that brought out the glow, glamour, and greatness of this transcendent score.

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