[Met Performance] CID:128020
Tannhäuser {315} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/15/1940.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 15, 1940


TANNHÄUSER {315}

Tannhäuser..............Lauritz Melchior
Elisabeth...............Helen Traubel
Wolfram.................Herbert Janssen
Venus...................Kerstin Thorborg
Hermann.................Emanuel List
Walther.................John Carter
Heinrich................Anthony Marlowe
Biterolf................Douglas Beattie
Reinmar.................John Gurney
Shepherd................Maxine Stellman
Dance...................Ruthanna Boris
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Lillian Moore
Dance...................Beatrice Weinberger
Dance...................Doris Neal
Dance...................Ruth Harris
Dance...................Grant Mouradoff
Dance...................George Chaffee

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

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

An American Elisabeth

Helen Traubel, singing the second Wagnerian role of her career at the Metropolitan Opera House, hailed Landgraf Hermann's hall of song for her first time in this theater last night, soon after the rising of the curtain for the second act of "Tannnhäuser." In assuming a part sung by Lotte Lehmann and Kirsten Flagstad in the season's two earlier performances of Wagner's fifth opera, the Missouri soprano gave an interpretation which well deserved its enthusiastic reception by the evening's sizeable audience.

Her voice again impressed its hearers as an exceptional musical medium. The volume of tone is generous throughout the vocal range, the firmness and substantiality of its tone is not limited to any particular register. Resources of vocal color are employed with intelligence and imagination to achieve a desired expressive result.

As to her earlier appearances as Sieglinde, her voice was less consistently revealed at its best last night than it had been in her recent Town Hall recital. In "Dich theure Halle" she sometimes produced her tones with a hint of an effort that was unnecessary in view of her natural vocal power. This seemed to be the cause for occasional ruffling of the vocal surface, or for notes which had a certain edge. Such matters came to notice from time to time later on, but in general, after the [first] aria, she sang with a more normal freedom. There were top notes of impressive strength and well focused proclamativeness, as in her halting of Hermann's resentful cohorts; notably voiced and phrased and sustained passages as in the prayer.

In appearance and demeanor Miss Traubel's Elisabeth was sympathetic and convincing; not overacted, but indicating this character in its dramatic aspect. Emotional shading proved to be an asset in her singing, the eloquence of Elisabeth's wondering question, "Heinrich, was tatet Ihr mir sin?" was a notable example. The impersonation as a whole suggested that she should become an increasingly consequential and valuable member of the Metropolitan's artistic roster.

Kerstin Thorborg sang Venus for the first time this season. Her singing was expressive, while uneven in quality; some measures of the role seemed to lie rather high for her, although the top notes were strongly voiced. The characterization was intelligent, but did not always suggest the temptress of the Horselberg. Mr. Melchior's Tannhäuser was generally representative of his best voice; his expression of penitence in the second act was praiseworthy for its dramatic persuasiveness. Herbert Janssen, after a not particularly auspicious start in the first act, sang well in Wolfram's summary of his rather austere views on the subject of love. Mr. List was dignified in appearance and mien, while not always steady in voice, as Hermann. Mr. Beattie was satisfactory as the choleric Biterolf, the nature of Walther's music gave little opportunity for an appraisal of Mr. Marlowe's singing in his first appearance in this role.

Mr. Leinsdorf's interpretation merited, in general, much commendation. The warning "Nicht uberellen" at the beginning of Tannhäuser's untimely praise of Venus in the second act seemed to be overlooked, and there were certain over-accelerated measures elsewhere. But the general impression made by his direction was one of increasing expressive understanding of the score.



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