[Met Performance] CID:124660
Die Walküre {302}
Ring Cycle [64]
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/10/1939.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 10, 1939


DIE WALKÜRE {302}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [64]

Brünnhilde..............Kirsten Flagstad
Siegmund................Lauritz Melchior
Sieglinde...............Elisabeth Rethberg
Wotan...................Hans Hermann Nissen
Fricka..................Kerstin Thorborg
Hunding.................Emanuel List
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Irra Petina
Helmwige................Dorothee Manski
Ortlinde................Pearl Besuner
Rossweisse..............Lucielle Browning
Schwertleite............Anna Kaskas
Siegrune................Helen Olheim
Waltraute...............Doris Doe

Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf

Review of Henry Pleasants in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

Music in Review

Metropolitan "Ring" Cycle Continues With "Die Walküre"

The Metropolitan Opera Company's "Ring" Cycle continued at the Academy of Music last night with a generally rewarding "Die Walküre." The performance was given special distinction by the presence of Mr. Melchior as Siegmund and Mme. Flagstad as Brünnhilde, but the dominant figure of the proceedings was Erich Leinsdorf who took over the duties usually assigned to Mr. Bodanzky.

Mr. Leinsdorf has been assisting Mr. Bodanzky for several seasons, and appeared here a year or so ago to conduct the last act of "Tristan und Isolde", which had run the first two-thirds of its course under the senior conductor's direction. This season Mr. Leinsdorf has not been limited to third acts. He has had charge of several productions in the Wagnerian repertoire in New York and is undoubtedly destined to have charge of many more. He is a splendidly equipped conductor.

His direction of last night's "Die Walküre" was admirably informed and shrewdly paced, and its authority was beyond question. Not the least of the young conductor's attributes is an exceptional "stick" technique. He conducts each phrase in a manner intelligible to everyone concerned. The capacity audience was not inclined to overlook Mr. Leinsdorf's contribution to the performance, and the second and third acts were preceded by ovations for the conductor and orchestra.

Otherwise the performance revolved around the justly admired characterizations of Mme. Flagstad and Mr. Melchior. The latter was in exceptionally good form. As usual he sang best when he sang loudest. Then the voice was firm and resonant and there was no suggestion of pushing. When the tenor affected a "mezzo voce" he produced a rather husky, tenuous tone, but this has always been a shortcoming of his vocal style and it is not hard to overlook in favor of the glorious upper notes of the "Wintersturme" and the ringing conviction of the whole first act duet. Mme. Flagstad's Brünnhilde is most convincing in it impulsive youthfulness and in its plentitude of vocal resource. The "Ho-jo-to-ho" was sung with an exuberant confidence altogether becoming a warrior maiden. This, with the simplicity and sincerity of the address to Wotan after Fricka's tongue-lashing, etched a characterization splendidly sustained from that point on.

The evening's Wotan was Hans Hermann Nissen who continued the character he inaugurated in last week's "Das Rheingold" with rather less success. Mr. Nissen found the music of the "Die Walküre" Wotan uncomfortably high and the "Die Walküre" orchestra uncomfortably competitive. His voice has its good notes, but they do not cover a sufficiently wide range. Mr. Nissen is a well-routined performer, however, and he handled the assignments with the requisite assurance. Kerstin Thorborg was again the Fricka, delivering her second act lecture with the authority and the interpretive insight one has come to expect from this fine artist. Elisabeth Rethberg's Sieglinde was pleasant to the eye and sometimes pleasing to the ear, but the voice took on an unwonted shrillness when pressed, which it often was. Emanuel List's Hunding was gruff and guttural and not particularly musical. The performance was greeted with much enthusiasm, each of the principals coming in for a generous share of the applause.



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