[Met Performance] CID:123380
Parsifal {136} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/18/1938.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 18, 1938 Matinee


PARSIFAL {136}
Wagner-Wagner

Parsifal................Lauritz Melchior
Kundry..................Kirsten Flagstad
Amfortas................Friedrich Schorr
Gurnemanz...............Emanuel List
Klingsor................Adolf Vogel
Titurel.................James Wolfe
Voice...................Doris Doe
First Esquire...........Natalie Bodanya
Second Esquire..........Helen Olheim
Third Esquire...........Giordano Paltrinieri
Fourth Esquire..........Karl Laufkötter
First Knight............Angelo Badà
Second Knight...........Louis D'Angelo
Flower Maidens: Susanne Fisher, Irra Petina, Helen Olheim,
Hilda Burke, Thelma Votipka, Doris Doe

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Designer................Joseph Urban

Parsifal received four performances this season.

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

'PARSIFAL' IS HEARD AT OPERA MATINEE

Special Wagner Series at the Metropolitan is Concluded Before Big Audience

MELCHIOR IN TITLE ROLE

Flagstad Sings Part of Kundry and Adolf Vogel is Cast as Klingsor

"Parsifal" again impressed an immense audience and cast its curious spell when it was given as the last of the special Wagner matinee performances of the season yesterday in the Metropolitan Opera House. The spell is that of a sorceress; there may be black as well as white magic in it. Not for nothing has writer after writer and student after student paused, puzzled, before this singular masterpiece. Its ceremonial is so impressive, its music such a remarkable blend of the dramatic and sensuous, the modern and the medieval, that the opera never conveys the same impression or estimate of its musical values.

What we have to admit is that the old magician of Bayreuth, as Nietzsche calls him, fascinates and controls us. He may also, at moments, irritate us by the staginess of certain places. If we sit long enough (as God wot we do) under his occult ministrations we succumb to his voice. There is certainly Orientelism as well as mysticism in the thing; and profound pity and exaltation and that which is hieratic and symbolic-the quality in the music that reminded Nietzsche of the heraldings on a shield.

An Effective Opera

For some the opera is simpler. A majority, awed by the theme and spectacle, accept without question. To the true believer it stands as the pure symbol of the religious ideal. For others it is ancient legend and beauty. There are those who find in it only a skillful and deceptive theatricalism. Certainly the music is not consistent in its style, or unflagging in inspiration But try to decide what should be omitted. This music may not be a one and indivisible idea, like "Tristan" or "Meistersinger" or "Walkuere." But there' is nothing negligible. And many will say why question in the presence of genius that will not be denied? As usual, Wagner has his way. The composer has yet to arise who can dispute him.

The performance yesterday had its accustomed vocal splendors in the hands of Mr. Melchior and Mme. Flagstad and a new Klingsor in the person of Adolf Vogel who sang, and did not merely bark in a melodramatic manner, the lines of that embodiment of evil. Then there was Mr. Schorr's Amfortas, so nobly conceived, but vocally imperfect, and the sonorous and dignified Gurnemanz of Mr. List.

Kundry Singing Pleases

Mine. Flagstad's Kundry becomes more authoritative and clear in detail as she absorbs the part. Vocally it is what one has come to expect of this singer. Interpretively it does not as yet plumb the heights and depths of the most difficult woman's character that Wagner conceived: It is not sensuous, even admitting that the projected seduction of Parsifal is a rather intellectual affair, with a touch of Freudian maternalism involved. But this is too honestly maternal-this scene of the second act- while the mocking, sardonic, demonic element which is so strong in the part is conspicuous mainly by absence. The glory of the song is one thing; the psychology and dramatic delineation of the character another.

Perhaps it is enough - what the gods have given, with this superb singer and artist. Yet there is more to be found in the Kundry part. Mr. Melchior absorbed the Bayreuth tradition of Parsifal's role early in his career, and it has pre-eminently the stamp of authority and understanding, if also of heftiness. Things could be said of the Parsifal scenery, but they shall be deferred, in deference to Mr. Bodanzky's eloquent presentation of the score and the prevailing excellence of the chorus, ensemble and orchestra. For this performance the house was packed and the applause permitted after the second act was punctuated by cheering.



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