[Met Performance] CID:131550
Parsifal {151} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 04/11/1941.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
April 11, 1941 Matinee


PARSIFAL {151}

Parsifal................Lauritz Melchior
Kundry..................Kirsten Flagstad
Amfortas................Herbert Janssen
Gurnemanz...............Alexander Kipnis
Klingsor................Walter Olitzki
Titurel.................Nicola Moscona
Voice...................Doris Doe
First Esquire...........Marita Farell
Second Esquire..........Helen Olheim
Third Esquire...........Karl Laufkötter
Fourth Esquire..........John Dudley
First Knight............George Cehanovsky
Second Knight...........Mack Harrell
Flower Maidens: Eleanor Steber, Irra Petina, Helen Olheim,
Marita Farell, Maxine Stellman, Lucielle Browning

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

Review of Miles Kastendieck in the Brooklyn Eagle

"Parsifal" Presented for Good Friday

Singing of Flagstad, Melchior and Kipnis Brings Distinction to Festival Performance

At no other time does Wagner's "Parsifal" attain its true significance as a "dedicatory festival play" than in its performance on Good Friday at the Metropolitan Opera House. The time is right, and the audience is peculiarly disposed to regard the performance as something unique for that day. It is said that people come to hear "Parsifal" who never attend any other opera performance. For them, it probably transcends opera and becomes the consecrational work that Wagner intended it to be. Such, indeed, was the case at yesterday's performance, thought it was more than the great scene in the temple or the Good Friday music that set this performance above many of recent years.

What made this hearing specially memorable was the singing of Kirsten Flagstad as Kundry, Lauritz Melchior as Parsifal, and Alexander Kipnis as Gurnemanz. It would be difficult to imagine the roles better sung or better acted. Incredible as it may seem, Flagstad has never sung Kundry so magnificently. Only recently has she completely mastered the role; in other years she has always courted reservations in the second act. Now her Kundry is the equal of her Isolde and her third Brünnhilde, an achievement not readily duplicated in the annals of opera.

Melchior has always excelled as Parsifal, though it has been in the third act that he touched greatness. This was the case yesterday. The second act found him not quite up to form; he has realized the moment of "Amfortas, die Wunde" more dramatically.

The artistry of Kipnis adapts itself readily to the role of Gurnemanz. He conveyed the character's depth of understanding with profound insight into the old man's humanity. There has been no finer realization of the role in years.

As for the rest of the singers, Herbert Janssen sang the role of Amfortas well but hardly made him the central figure that some think Amfortas to be. Walter Olitzki was only an adequate Klingsor, as was Nicola Moscona, Titurel. The supporting cast was quite acceptable, while the follower maidens were the most comely yet to be seen on the Metropolitan stage. They actually offered reasons to attract even a guileless fool.

Mr. Leinsdorf conducted a good performance which sounded best in the Good Friday spell - a not unusual circumstance in any hearing because of the nature of the music. The inherent intensity in the music remained for the most part untouched. The production was sloppy. Possibly it has reached the point where nobody cares, but five years ago there was much more incisiveness to the action, much more effectiveness to the staging because of more accurate timing. Perhaps it is vain repetition to state that the whole presentation should move together and be all of a piece. Yesterday it was sadly disjointed. The music and the singing of course made up for all these shortcomings, but that fact is no excuse.



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