[Met Performance] CID:132010
Tannhäuser {325} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 11/25/1941.

(Debut: Michael Arshansky, Alexis Dolinoff, Leon Varkas
Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 25, 1941


TANNHÄUSER {325}
Wagner-Wagner

Tannhäuser..............Lauritz Melchior
Elisabeth...............Helen Traubel
Wolfram.................Julius Huehn
Venus...................Karin Branzell
Hermann.................Alexander Kipnis
Walther.................John Carter
Heinrich................Emery Darcy
Biterolf................Mack Harrell
Reinmar.................John Gurney
Shepherd................Maxine Stellman
Dance...................Ruthanna Boris
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Lillian Moore
Dance...................Michael Arshansky [Debut]
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff [Debut]
Dance...................Alexis Kosloff
Dance...................Leon Varkas [Debut]

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert
Choreographer...........Laurent Novikoff

Tannhäuser received six performances this season.

Review of Edwin H. Schloss in the Philadelphia Record

Glittering Performance of "Tannhäuser"' Launches 54th Met Season at Academy

Against a background offering the usual social parade and sartorial splendor, the Metropolitan Opera Association opened its 54th season here last night with an almost equally glittering performance of Wagner's "Tannhäuser."

It was a grand show in the boxes and the lobbies as well as on stage, which is what a Metropolitan inaugural is supposed to be, and it was also the first "Tannhäuuser" heard here from the New York company in almost a decade.

Which is long enough to forgive and forget the opera's clichés and meet its higher moments once more with renewed delight.

Dramatic Impact

"Tannhäuser" is a pastiche, its dramatic style often descending to Biedermeir, its score interlarded with Meyerbeer and even Verdi. But it is for all that a work of genius with many moments of dramatic impact, lyric eloquence and subtlety that foreshadow the magician of "Tristan" and "The Ring."

Written in an age of romantic "spectacle operas," "Tannhäuser" is also superb theater and as such an excellent inaugural number for any season. Especially when it is as well done as it was last night - far better than it could possibly be done anywhere else in the world today.

Helen Traubel "Elisabeth"

Helen Traubel, the Met's fine, big, new American soprano, made her seasonal debut and her second Wagnerian appearance here in a major role as the evening's Elisabeth. Miss Traubel has a Wagnerian "gestalt," a voice to match, and sang superbly.

Her entrance aria is a trying one - the famous "Dich Teure Halle" which an erring compositor once (building better than he knew) referred to as a "Rupturous song."

But Miss Traubel sailed into the Wartburg last night to deliver her rapture magnificently though there was a slight nervous vibrato in her voice at the start. The following lovely aria with Tannhäuser and the celebrated "Prayer" in Act III were sung with great dignity and all the restrained eloquence of a fresh, resilient voice plus an intelligently exercised gift for musical expression.

Melchior in Title Role

Lauritz Melchior sang the title role with only average vocal distinction - for him - but gave one of the best dramatic performances of his career. As Wagner's ensorcelled knight (in an auburn wig), the great Dane was not at top voice. His high notes were tight, strained at the upper end of the scale and a bit edgy everywhere. But this is probably mere early season rustiness. And even slightly subnormal Melchior is more than adequate.

Julius Huehn's Wolfram was virile and noble and his singing of the best. His Verdian first act aria and his "O Himmel lasat jetzt erflehen" of the Sängerkrieg were finely brought out in the round and one could even hear his "Evening Star" without squirming.

Karin Branzell's dealings with Venus were acceptable; Alexander Kipnis, a sterling artist, was an admirable Landgraf, and Maxine Stellman, in a bit part as the Shepherd, disclosed an uncommonly attractive voice.

The first-act Bacchanal in the rose-lighted mists of the Venusberg scene was well managed by the corps de ballet and its solo artists as a spectacle, though authorities competent in such matters might rate it a Grade B orgy. In this scene there was a glimpse of Leda with a swan that looked like a pelican.

The later Wartburg scene, however, was superbly directed, and provided, to the familiar beer-hall music that goes with it, a mass spectacle dramatically contrived, full of movement and excitement. It was a revelation to anyone accustomed to the usual setting of this scene, which often suggests a concert in Mme. Tussaud's wax works.

Erich Leinsdorf conducted and held the evening pretty well together from the pit, though his Overture was soggy.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).