[Met Performance] CID:130020
Die Walküre {320} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/4/1940.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 4, 1940


DIE WALKÜRE {320}
Wagner-Wagner

Brünnhilde..............Kirsten Flagstad
Siegmund................Lauritz Melchior
Sieglinde...............Helen Traubel
Wotan...................Julius Huehn
Fricka..................Karin Branzell
Hunding.................Emanuel List
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Irra Petina
Helmwige................Maxine Stellman
Ortlinde................Irene Jessner
Rossweisse..............Doris Doe
Schwertleite............Anna Kaskas
Siegrune................Helen Olheim
Waltraute...............Pearl Besuner

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Set designer............Jonel Jorgulesco

Die Walküre received six performances this season.

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

"WALKÜRE" IS SUNG AT METROPOLITAN

Second Performance of the Season Presents Kirsten Flagstad as Brünnhilde

MELCHIOR IS SIEGMUND

List Appears in Hunding Role of Wagner Creation, With Leinsdorf Conducting

The second performance of the current Metropolitan season, last night, was that of Richard Wagner's "Walküre," with a cast consisting of well-known figures who had made many or a few previous appearances in their roles.

The results suggested it would be well to have as fresh a cast as possible for "Walküre," even though singers of the quality of Mme. Flagstad could not be replaced. Or at least some grueling rehearsals all along the line. As a matter of fact, Mme. Flagstad maintained most consistently her customary high standards of performance. For the greater part the interpretation was tame, undistinguished and of a flaccid routine.

Flagstad Singing Praised

Mme. Flagstad's entrance in the first act and her Valkyrie cry came off as well as usual, or better, and her technical poise and authority carry her nobly through such passages as the great final scene. Mr. Melchior produced tones of a fine brilliance and heroic impact, and some that were like blotting paper. Mr. List's Hunding has never had iron in it, and it was especially tame last night, because of the lack of any suggestion of the sinister or the powerful in Mr. Leinsdorf's conducting at this point. The brass was pretty and rather timid as he drew near. And why black Hunding should wear a reddish wig is beyond us, and we believe, Wagner's intention.

Miss Traubel might be better cast as Brünnhilde than as Sieglinde on account of the dramatic quality of her remarkable vocal organ. She has gained in authority on the stage and her serious study of her role is evident, but last night her upper tones inclined to shrillness and she should beware of an unsteadiness which sometimes characterized them. Miss Branzell had plenty of tone when she sang as Fricka, but the music for its best estate requires a nobler and less explosive style than she gave it, with the result of a portrait of Fricka which designated her as a shrewish wife rather than an outraged goddess.

Huehn Work Commended

Mr. Huehn's intelligent Wotan is commendable, especially in the narrative of Act II, but the voice has not the body or the action, the inherent power and majesty of the god. It is a small scaled and as yet unauthoritative Wotan, and it was as a whole a small-scaled performance, with poor stage lighting and very indifferent stage management, and an orchestral reading which had little of the sweep and passion of the score.

Mr. Leinsdorf misses the long line and the ecstatic flight of the love duet of the first act, as he does the profundity and eeriness of one of the greatest scenes in all Wagner - that in which the Valkyrie appears to Siegmund to warn him of his end. The tempo is here too fast for the fate motive to be significantly enunciated and the mystical atmosphere of the whole passage is lost. Even the ride of the Valkyries was routine - routine on the stage and in the orchestra, which was technically as well as interpretively second class. As for romantic illusion, perhaps that is too much to ask of the dramatis personal of a Wagner opera.

There were the customary curtain calls for the artists and a hand for the conductor as he came to his desk for the third act.



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