[Met Performance] CID:128760
Die Walküre {319} Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas: 04/16/1940.


Dallas, Texas
April 16, 1940


Brünnhilde..............Marjorie Lawrence
Siegmund................Lauritz Melchior
Sieglinde...............Lotte Lehmann
Wotan...................Julius Huehn
Fricka..................Kerstin Thorborg
Hunding.................Norman Cordon
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Irra Petina
Helmwige................Dorothee Manski
Ortlinde................Irene Jessner
Rossweisse..............Edith Herlick
Schwertleite............Doris Doe
Siegrune................Helen Olheim
Waltraute...............Maxine Stellman

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

Review of Graydon Heartsill in the Dallas Times-Herald

"Die Walküre" Gives Its Large Audience a Workout

The Southwest had its champagne in "Lakmé" Monday. Tuesday night, it went back to Fair Park Auditorium for a musical feast. And the Metropolitan laid out such a repast of sensational vocalism and broad histrionics as could only bear the genius trademark of Richard Wagner and as could only be served by the great stars of the world's greatest opera company.

It was a "Die Walküre" storm-lashed and moon-drenched passion-ridden and beauty-laden - a performance after which an almost capacity audience remained to cheer when the last curtain fell, the last measure of the haunting fire-music flickered out at midnight. Surely the echoes of the thrilling "Ho-yo-to-ho!" are still reverberating out in the vast auditorium and nothing short of the satanic power of Pinza's Mephistopheles can dispel them Wednesday afternoon.

Since every principal was in top form of what is known as "good voice" and since these principals assembled from the famed German wing of the company, included such seasoned troupers as Melchior, Lehmann and Thorborg and such worthy relative newcomers as Huehn and Cordon, it is foolhardy to select the evening's star.

But here goes anyway - for into the galaxy of favorites flashed, for these parts, a new Brünnhilde, Marjorie Lawrence, looking like a Valkyre should with her flashing helmet shield and sword and sounding like a goddess of song, was not satisfied to meet with no changes in score and with amazing facility the vocal requirements of one of the most difficult of operatic roles. She must also act the part. So we had an armed warrior maid leaping with agility over the crags, waving her weapon with such exuberance that the repair crew had a rush assignment to reclamp its glittering head. Then we had a woman, tender in her sympathy for the love of Siegmund for Sieglinde. And, finally we had Wotan's daughter, sorrowful and proud. It was a radiant Brünnhilde which Lawrence gave us, one of enormous vitality and dramatic artistry, and, from her first exultant Ho-yo, Wagner's dull and heavy moments were never present when she was on the stage.

Takes Wagner Straight

Lauritz Melchior, like the young Australian soprano, Lawrence, takes his Wagner straight. Those who last year prophesized that the Great Dane was on the way out ate those words Tuesday night. Barrel-chested, gargantuan-girthed Melchior still has the powerful voice to match that mammoth frame. Still he can sound the stentorian "Wälse Wälse" without bursting a blood vessel. When Melchior uses his rich full lower register to make the Spring Love Song and his second act aria to the sleeping Sieglinde things of palpitating sweetness, one thinks that perhaps the world has been doing without a great baritone. But when he lifts off the lid for high notes which shake the rafters, one knows that his magnificence lies in heroic tenor.

For his rotund Siegmund, Lotte Lehmann made a buxom Sieglinde - and his vocalism she matched with a beautiful soprano. It took Lehmann one of the German wing veterans, a time to "warm up" but once she did she seasoned her role with vocal color and intensity.

A veteran, too, whose performance denied neither by weak characterization nor rich music her top deck place in the Metropolitan troupe was Kerstin Thorborg, an imperious Fricka.

Hunding Enlivened

Norman Cordon's Hunding was as somber and dour as his orchestral entrance music heralds him, but the young Carolinan is too much the actor to leave him just a wooden figure with a deep voice. Hunding spouted vengeance and malevolence Tuesday night via some extremely capable vocalism. But Wagner left some of the most exquisite music for another of the younger singers, baritone Julius Huehn, who made of Wotan a giant king of the gods, and who imbued the role with a generous allotment of the tender, storm, impulsive potentialities which are its heredity.

"Die Walküre" has, of course, a small cast, and none could be rightly counted as "minors" - not when Brünnhilde's eight sisters must have the voice of Jessner, Votipka, Stellman, Oelheim, et. al., to sound the rousing, weird cry above the ride of the Valkyres' stirring music.

If it was a performance which fell short of the ultimate in Wagnerian grandeur, the difference was slight, and certainly it was marked by perfect harmony between the artists on the stage and the artists in the pit. Apparently the publicized discord was buried successfully, and both the vocal and instrumental musicians responded to the ever vigorous, clean direction of Erich Leinsdorf, a young conductor who knows what he wants from Mr. Wagner and Mr. Wagner's performers.

Pictorially, the crags and mountains of the second and third acts made striking sets for the virile activities of the gods, and although the first act's interior scene of Hunding's house with its imposing ash tree was a bit moth-eaten, the voices of Melchior, Lehman and Cordon colored the faded drops.

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