[Met Performance] CID:127380
Die Walküre {311} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/28/1939.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 28, 1939


Brünnhilde..............Kirsten Flagstad
Siegmund................Lauritz Melchior
Sieglinde...............Helen Traubel
Wotan...................Friedrich Schorr
Fricka..................Kerstin Thorborg
Hunding.................Norman Cordon
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Irra Petina
Helmwige................Dorothee Manski
Ortlinde................Irene Jessner
Rossweisse..............Lucielle Browning
Schwertleite............Anna Kaskas
Siegrune................Helen Olheim
Waltraute...............Doris Doe

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

Review of Pitts Sanborn

Superb Cast Presents Wagner Here

Mme. Traubel Acclaimed in Sieglinde Role

Presented with a cast of considerable artists, Die Walküre crowded the Metropolitan Opera House last evening. The feature of the occasion was the appearance there of Helen Traubel of St. Louis in her second local operatic role, Sieglinde.

Such seasoned Metropolitan singers as Kirsten Flagstad, Kerstin Thorborg, Lauritz Melchior and Friedrich Schorr appeared as Brünnhilde, Fricka, Siegmund, and Wotan respectively. Norman Cordon and Erich Leinsdorf reintroduced the neophyte class in discharging their earnest obligations to Hunding and the conductor's desk,

Mme. Traubel, who possesses the physical stature and the voice for Brünnhilde, can't be said exactly to have humbled herself to be reborn as Sieglinde, but the yearning Volsung woman might perhaps not be the ideal attribution for her Wagnerian debut in opera here. Still, her superb voice and her excellent command of it compelled attention and admiration. Her achievement was of a very high order.

In Good Voice.

Mme. Flagstad sang gloriously, except that she hadn't a vestige of a trill for the Valkyr cry. Mr. Schorr was in uncommonly good voice, but he still sported the wild cherry velvet mantle. Mme. Thorborg also clung to her crushed apricot negligee. However, her Fricka was more the outraged goddess and less the common shrew than formerly. Mr. Melchior remains the most satisfactory Siegmund we have heard here in years.

Once more Mr. Leinsdorf, who has his own notions about tempi, circused the Ride of the Valkyrs, and the stage direction clung to the immutable land of ineptitude.

Review of Oscar Thompson

Viewed as a first assumption of the role, the Sieglinde of the American soprano, Helen Traubel, took its place worthily beside the Brünnhilde of Kirsten Flagstad and the Fricka of Kerstin Thorberg in last night's representation of "Die Walküere" at the Metropolitan Opera House. This is not to say that it was their equal in poise, finish or finality of detail. There was some awkwardness in the acting and some miscarriage of good intentions in the singing.

It would be surprising if Miss Traubel, singing her first Wagnerian role, had escaped the blemishes that nervousness brings on for even the best-regulated vocal technic. Her tone was not as free or as solid as it was in her recent appearances as soloist with the Philharmonic-Symphony. But the voice was again disclosed as one of exceptional quality and power. It is a voice for opera and a voice for Wagner.

The soprano ought to be able to cultivate a wider range of vocal color. At present there is a tendency toward a too-uniform brightness of frontal resonance. But Miss Traubel proved again that she can sing softly as well as in the heroic frame. Last night she had the low notes as well as the high ones that the role demands. There were no holes between. Her singing had line and was accurate in pitch. It was a pleasure to hear such freshness of quality from a vocalist who is scarcely to be
classed as either inexperienced or immature.

Though Miss Traubel's operatic, performances have not been many, this was not, of course, her Metropolitan debut. Some clue to the gifts that her first Wagnerian essayal went far to confirm had been given by her appearances as Mary Rutledge in Walter Damrosch's opera, "The Man Without a Country." Further appearances must decide the issue as to her adaptability to the repertory of a house that has never been celebrated as a training school.

Besides Mme. Flagstad and Mme. Thorborg, both of whom lived up to their reputations as among the foremost Wagnerians of the day, Miss Tranbel's associates included Lauritz Melchior as Siegmund and Friedrich Schorr as Wotan. These are characterizations that vary chiefly according to whether the interpreters are in better or worse voice than obtains in the run of such performances. The communiqué for last night may read '"Not better." Nor will it be argued that Erich Leinsdorf set a new high mark for himself or for the score in hand. There were many standees and many curtain recalls, with Miss Traubel certainly not neglected.

Photograph of Helen Traubel as Sieglinde by James Abresch.

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