[Met Performance] CID:124830
Siegfried {184}
Ring Cycle [64]
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/24/1939.

(Debut: Herbert Janssen

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 24, 1939

Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [64]

Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Brünnhilde..............Kirsten Flagstad
Wanderer................Herbert Janssen [Debut]
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Mime....................Erich Witte
Alberich................Adolf Vogel
Fafner..................Herbert Alsen
Forest Bird.............Natalie Bodanya

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

Review of Henry Pleasants in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

Melchior and Flagstad Dominate Metropolitan "Siegfried"

The Metropolitan's "Siegfried" was brought to an affecting conclusion at the Academy of Music last night by some of the most brilliant singing the season has offered.

Mme. Flagstad was in especially good voice and sang as if rejoicing in the apparent limitlessness of her resources. The voice soared above Wagner's impassioned orchestration gloriously, in a manner more close to the Wagnerian ideal than is often considered humanly possible. Mr. Melchior, of course, came upon his last act bride with an evening of considerable vocal activity behind him, but the man's voice never seems to tire. He assaulted the high tessitura of this tremendous scene as if two hours of more or less continuous singing were nothing more than a warm-up. The orchestration of this episode makes it pretty much a full voice affair, and both Mr. Melchior and Mme. Flagstad sound best when going the limit. The entire closing scene was, therefore, vocally magnificent. The electricity of the occasion was not lost on the capacity audience. Both the tenor and the soprano were applauded again and again in an ovation as spontaneous as it was sincere.

The performance had other agreeable features, not the least of these being Mr. Leinsdorf's direction of the orchestra. There was a new Wanderer in the person of Herbert Janssen who was making his American debut and who seems to be about the best German baritone to have trod the boards of the Academy since Friedrich Schorr's voice lost its glow. Mr. Janssen rejoices in a mellow instrument not extraordinary in size but rather more extensive in range than is customary in German baritones and easily, if not faultlessly, produced. His conception of the part was along conventional lines and suggested a good deal of previous experience.

Erich Witte, who has appeared in smaller parts earlier in the season, was a new Mime. His development of the role was along broad and rather familiar lines, but it was consistent and well sustained. In comparison with the characterization offered last season by Mr. Laufkötter his Mime was more comical, less malevolent and much less musical. So far as the singing of the part was concerned, the tenor affected a line of sprechstimme which would have delighted the heart of Arnold Schoenberg, and might conceivably have delighted the heart of Richard Wagner. The latter is no longer available for an opinion on the degree to which the part should be sung or the degree in which it should be declaimed. A similar speculation could be indulged in regarding Adolf Vogel's Alberich and Herbert Alsen's Fafner. Mr. Alsen was, incidentally, making his Philadelphia debut, but the cavernous and megaphoned utterances of the dragon scarcely afford a basis for appraisal of the newcomer. One of the distinctive pleasures of the evening was the return of Karin Branzell, an uncommonly invisible but also uncommonly lyrical Erda. The beauty of this voice and the artistry of its use have been absent too long. Natalie Bodanya's forest bird was as fresh and woodsy as one could wish.

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