[Met Performance] CID:125860
Lohengrin {433} Metropolitan Opera House: 05/2/1939.

(New York World's Fair Season

Metropolitan Opera House
May 2, 1939

New York World's Fair Metropolitan Opera Season


Lohengrin...............Lauritz Melchior
Elsa....................Elisabeth Rethberg
Ortrud..................Kerstin Thorborg
Telramund...............Friedrich Schorr
King Heinrich...........Emanuel List
Herald..................George Cehanovsky

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

Note: The nine performances given between 5/2 and 5/23 were designated a New York World's Fair Season.

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


Crown Prince and Princess Hear Danish Compatriot, Melchior, in Title Part


Ovation Is Extended to Royal Couple at Performance in the Metropolitan

The New York World's Fair Metropolitan Opera season opened in a singularly festive and brilliant manner last night with a performance of Wagner's "Lohengrin" attended, as a closing event of Denmark's [inaugural] day at the Fair, by Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Ingrid, and with the distinguished Danish singer, and leading tenor of the Metropolitan, Lauritz Melchior, in the title part.

The popularity of the opera and the nature of the occasion drew an immense and highly representative audience. The house was packed, with a throng of standees back of the brass rail, and the boxes aglitter as at the height of the Winter season. There was the excitement and enthusiasm of a gala night. Between the first and second acts the orchestra played the Danish and Icelandic national hymns, and followed these with the "Star-Spangled Banner." From the Box One side of the haloed horseshoe the Prince and Princess, their hosts and their entourage rose with the audience, and the ovation they received was more eloquent than many words of the cordiality entertained toward the royal visitors.

Royalty Respectful to Music

It is to be added - and the occasion is eagerly seized to remark upon it - that these eminent guests, both of them cultivated music lovers, afforded an example which many a subscriber and boxholder might heed, of the respect due great music. For the Prince and Princess, unlike nearly a quarter of the audience, and despite a preceding dinner held in their honor, were seated in the box, adorned with the Danish national colors, twelve minutes before the time set for the beginning of the performance. The Princess, fatigued with a long day of hospitality and sight-seeing, left shortly before the fall of the final curtain. The Prince remained till after its last note had sounded. It would be worthwhile for boxholders and the public of a great democracy to take to heart this tradition, which is that of supreme consideration for a composer and his audience.

The cast of the performance, in all its essentials, is known and has been warmly approved by the New York public. Last night there was fresh vitality in the interpretation, under the direction of Erich Leinsdorf, the Metropolitan conductor nearing the close of his second opera year in the Broadway house. Certain of the artists have been heard in better voice. Collectively they sang with the most intelligent and evocative response to the music, and with regard to dramatic values. Mr. Melchior, especially inspired, as it seemed, by the circumstances of the evening, sang with unusual dramatic impulse and variety of color. His Lohengrin needs at this time no detailed description. Enough that it took full account of the traditions of the part, yet made them personal and communicative to the listener.

Kirsten Thorborg Sings

Another Scandinavian in the cast was the Swedish Kirsten Thorborg. Her Ortrud was dramatically one of the distinctions of the entire presentation. She has power that is held always somewhat in reserve; intensity without hysteria; deep feeling conveyed with no suggestion of exaggeration. Mme. Rethberg's Elsa received ample recognition, both during the performance and after the drop of the curtain.

Mr. Schorr's Telramund, Mr. List's sonorous and dignified King Henry, George Cehanovsky's delivery of the lines of the Herald - all these elements, small as well as great, became part of a spirited and well-drilled ensemble for the great climax of the second act, characterized by impressive spectacle as well as concerted singing. And how one realizes, even today, long after the opera astonished Europe of the Fifties and Sixties, Wagner's magnificent scoring, not only for the orchestra but for singing!

In these ways there was launched, under the most favorable auspices, the New York World's Fair opera season, inaugurated with the signal honor of the presence of the chosen representatives of a great foreign nation.

It may here be added, in response to numerous inquiries, that the Wagner cycle arranged by the World's Fair with the Metropolitan's collaboration continues with "Meistersinger" next Thursday evening; "Das Rheingold" next Saturday evening; the other three operas of the "Ring," "Walküre," "Siegfried" and "Göetterdämmerung," on the evenings of May 8, 10 and 12, respectively; with a first "Tristan" on May 15, "Parsifal" on May 17 and a final "Tristan" on the 23d of the month, ending the season.

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