[Met Performance] CID:132080
Tannhäuser {326} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/1/1941.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 1, 1941


TANNHÄUSER {326}

Tannhäuser..............Lauritz Melchior
Elisabeth...............Helen Traubel
Wolfram.................Julius Huehn
Venus...................Kerstin Thorborg
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
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff
Dance...................Alexis Kosloff
Dance...................Leon Varkas

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

Trauermusik (Mozart)
Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf
[Mozart's Trauermusik was performed before Act III in memory of Gennaro Papi, who died on November 29.]

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

"Tannhäuser" Opens Second Week of Opera

First Wagner Performance Given at Metropolitan; Helen Traubel Is Heard

After the first Wagner-less [first] week in many years, the season at the Metropolitan Opera House entered its second week last night with Wagner's "Tannhäuser." The cast, including Helen Traubel as the forgiving Elisabeth and Lauritz Melchior in the title role, was the one which had opened the Metropolitan's Philadelphia season last Tuesday, except for the Venus, Kerstin Thorborg replacing her indisposed compatriot, Karin Branzell, as the ultimately unsuccessful temptress. Julius Huehn was the benign Wolfram and Alexander Kipnis the Landgrave.

The vocal roster offered no new impersonations, but many wondered how well Mme. Traubel would begin a season in which she will play a particularly important part as the Metropolitan's principal Wagnerian dramatic soprano. It was gratifying to note that the Missourian singer was beginning it very well. Her fine voice displayed the power and volume which characterizes it as its best. There was some unevenness of quality; a few notes which gave a hint of effort or incomplete focus, but otherwise her singing was clear in tone and well produced, and able to give a sense of expressive concentration and incisiveness in outspoken passages without prejudice to its tonal timbre.

Her singing was generally very convincing from an emotional point of view; vocal color and well wrought dynamic shading contributing to the realization of the wide expressive range which the character is called upon to represent from her first joyous greeting to the Hall of Song to the devout resignation of the Prayer. It could not be said that Mme. Traubel presented the same gamut of emotions to the eye, but her performance as a whole merited the warm applause which it received.

Melchior in Good Form

Once away from the Venusberg, Mr. Melchior was in good vocal and dramatic form, singing with fluency and elan when he first met Elisabeth and when he proclaimed Tannhäuser's unorthodox views of love, and communicating Tannhäuser's grief and repentance vividly in the tone and color of his voice in the closing scene of the second act. Mme. Thorborg's interpretive abilities are not best suited to a role such as Venus, but she provided expressive singing in a scene which seemed to have less of the vitality which the performance gathered later on. Mr. Huehn provided some good and some less meritorious singing, and Mr. Kipnis, not always in his best voice, was a duly dignified Hermann. Of the ballet, with presumably new choreography by Laurent Novikoff, more can be said later in the season. Mmes. Boris, Arshansky, Dolinoff, Koslofff and Varkas were the leading dancers. A first impression suggested good intentions incompletely carried out.

Erich Leinsdorf Conducts

John Carter, Mack Harrell, Emery Darcy and John Gurney as Walther, Biterolf, Heinrich and Reinmar were Tannhäuser's and Wolfram's fellow singers in the abruptly ended vocal competition, and Maxine Stellman was the young shepherd. The musical interpretation was generally well co-ordinated and vitalized under Erich Leinsdorf's leadership. The conductor seemed to overlook the caution "Nicht eilen" that proves a cause of grief, but elsewhere the tempi seemed well taken.

Before the beginning of the third act, the Metropolitan paid an appropriate tribute to its late conductor, Gennaro Papi, who died last Saturday. Mr. Leinsdorf conducted the orchestra in Mozart's stately "Trauermusick" (K. 477), while the audience and members of the artistic and house staffs stood in silence.



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