[Met Performance] CID:128680
Tannhäuser {317} Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/9/1940.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
April 9, 1940


TANNHÄUSER {317}

Tannhäuser..............Lauritz Melchior
Elisabeth...............Kirsten Flagstad
Wolfram.................Herbert Janssen
Venus...................Kerstin Thorborg
Hermann.................Alexander Kipnis
Walther.................John Carter
Heinrich................Anthony Marlowe
Biterolf................Arnold Gabor
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 Elmore Bacon in the Cleveland News

Huge Audience Turns Out To Applaud War-Touched Met Stars in 'Tannhäuser'

A cast much disturbed by war news gave a thrilling performance of "Tannhäuser," last night, the first Wagnerian music-drama in the current Metropolitan Opera season at Public Hall.

Kirsten Flagstad headed the list of internationally famous stars featured in this immortal work. Despite the fact that her homeland, Denmark [sic], is now in the hands of the Nazis, and the fate of her mother and others of her family is not known, she sang the role of Elisabeth as only she can sing it. It was perfection itself.

Her delivery of Elisabeth's Prayer in the final act was given with an emotion, a fervency and an artistic purity that might well have transformed it into a prayer for her country and her loved ones.

Lauritz Melchior, famed Wagnerian star who had the name role, was not up to his usual high standard in some respects. There was a tenseness and constriction in his high notes that are unusual with him. This might have been due to his falling victim to the current Metropolitan throat ailment, or to the back-stage agitation over the present war news.

However he was in top form for the rest of his singing. His portrayal of the errant minstrel knight who came under the spell of Venus, was a highly artistic exhibition.

Jansen Gets Ovation

Herbert Janssen, replacing the ailing Tibbett, was given an ovation for his performance as Wolfram, and deservedly so. We thought he fitted the role better than the dashing Tibbett. He sang the famous "Evening Star" song beautifully.

A notable feature of the evening too, was the artistic work of Alexander Kipnis making his Cleveland bow as the Landgrave. His singing in the hall scene was quite in the tradition. His fine voice was displayed to much better advantage than in his recent concert appearance here.

The capacity audience gave this Wagnerian cast a fine ovation in which the youthful Maestro Erich Leinsdorf and the orchestra shared. And speaking of the orchestra the overture under Leinsdorf's direction was marvelously well done, as was the beautiful prelude to the third act. Twice the orchestra was called to take a bow for its fine work.

Another fine Wagnerian singer was revealed in Kersten Thorborg's portrayal of the role of Venus, possessed of a well-rounded yet powerful soprano, she acted the part with notable artistry. A bit more epidermic Venus perhaps would have been in better keeping with the seductive music and the tumultuous dancing and orgies of the Bacchanale.

The Venusberg scene, in which Tannhäuser seems to be dreaming amid the wild riot of Bacchantes, satyrs, fauns and nymphs, was a gorgeous choreographic presentation in which Ruthanna Boris, Monna Montes, Lillian Moore, Grant Mouradoff, Georege Chaffee and the corps de ballet gave a remarkably fine exhibition.

The Three Graces, Beatrice Weinberger, Doris Neal and Ruth Harris, were graceful and highly artistic in their stately dance following the Bacchanal.

Flagstad is Thrilling

One of the most thrilling and beautiful features of the performance was Mme. Flagstad's singing of the familiar "Dich Teure Halle," a gorgeous aria in which her magnificent voice soared to new heights of artistry.

Melchior, too, was highly artistic in his singing of the "Yearning for Pardon." John Carter as Walther, Arnold Gabor as Biterolf, John Gurney as Reinmar and Anthony Marlowe as Heinrich were particularly fine in the forest scene with Janssen, Melchior and Kipnis. Maxine Stellman sang beautifully as the part of the Shepherd.

The often-heard "Pilgrim's Chorus" was an impressive feature, although the chorus of wayfarers at one time sang slightly off pitch.

While the costumes in general were up to the usual standard of excellence, the scenery in the Valley scene in the first act showed signs of wear. And we recommend to Landgrave Hermann that he call a meeting of the Wartburg board of trustees and do a bit of spring house cleaning in the singer's hall. The Venus cave scene, too, was rather bare, although the Europa and Leda visions went off without a hitch.



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