[Met Performance] CID:130560
Tannhäuser {321} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/17/1941.

(Debut: Elsa Zebranska
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 17, 1941


TANNHÄUSER {321}

Tannhäuser..............Lauritz Melchior
Elisabeth...............Lotte Lehmann
Wolfram.................Herbert Janssen
Venus...................Elsa Zebranska [Debut]
Hermann.................Emanuel List
Walther.................John Dudley
Heinrich................Emery Darcy
Biterolf................Mack Harrell
Reinmar.................John Gurney
Shepherd................Maxine Stellman
Dance...................Ruthanna Boris
Dance...................Lillian Moore
Dance...................Helen Longacre
Dance...................Elissa Minet
Dance...................Mary Smith
Dance...................Grant Mouradoff
Dance...................Josef Levinoff

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

Elsa Zebranska Makes Debut in "Tannhäuser"

Sings Venus at Metropolitan in Season's Second Performance of Wagner Work

This was a far less impressive presentation of "Tannhäuser" than the previous one, in which all the leading singers were in excellent form. The Venus of Mme. Zebranska proved disappointing both from the vocal and dramatic aspects. Her contralto voice, while it has the wide range essential to encompassing the high tessitura of the part, has little of the sensuous quality demanded to convey the alluring music Wagner has penned for his temptress. Perhaps because of nervousness, her tones were unsteady at first. They gained in firmness as she progressed, but not in persuasiveness. Her method of production is one which precludes well focused singing and her tones above the staff issued forth in attenuated fashion. There were moments when Mme. Zebranska's knowledge of her part seemed insecure. But here again one must allow for the exigencies of a debut.

Visually she suggested that the Venusberg chef provide an ample table. In her envisagement of the character, certain hieratic gestures gave the impression that Mme. Zebanska thought that she was impersonating Amneris. Her poses and movement were consistently graceless and inept.

Mme. Lehmann, whose Elisabeth has been in the past one of her most engrossing delineations, sang with obvious effort. It was quite evident, from her difficulties with "Dich theure Halle," which ended distressingly with a high B which overshot its mark, that this was not her evening. Certain measures which lie in her middle register were delivered with something of their old magic, and Mme. Lehmann's intensity and inwardness are still invaluable assets in her interpretation. But her most ardent admirers, among whom I count myself, could not but notice that she was exerting herself to the utmost to attain her objectives.

There was a good deal of off-pitch singing, not only by the offstage sirens in the [first] scene, but by the pilgrims in the second scene, and by Miss Stellman as well. Mr. Leinsdorf had his troubles trying to vitalize the rather sluggish chorus in the second act march, and the trumpeters behind the scene had a different idea of the tempos than he.

Mr. Melchior was not in such splendid vocal condition as in the earlier "Tannhäuser" of two weeks ago, but much of his work carried conviction. Both Mr. Janssen and Mr. List sounded about as usual.



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