[Met Performance] CID:132550
Lohengrin {446} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/9/1942.

(Debut: Lothar Wallerstein

Metropolitan Opera House
January 9, 1942


Lohengrin...............Lauritz Melchior
Elsa....................Astrid Varnay
Ortrud..................Kerstin Thorborg
Telramund...............Herbert Janssen
King Heinrich...........Norman Cordon
Herald..................Leonard Warren
Noble...................Emery Darcy
Noble...................John Dudley
Noble...................Wilfred Engelman
Noble...................Gerhard Pechner

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

Director................Lothar Wallerstein [Debut]
Designer................Joseph Urban

Lohengrin received nine performances this season.

Review of Jerome D. Bohm in the Herald Tribune

Melchior Heard in "Lohengrin" At Metropolitan

Mme. Thorborg Is Ortrud; Astrid Varnay is Elsa and Janssen, Telramund

The season's first performance of Wagner's "Lohengrin" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night had certain elements of novelty to set it apart from those of recent seasons. There was a new Elsa in Astrid Varnay; Lauritz Melchior, who assumed the title role, had donned new costumes, the stage direction was for the first time in the hands of Lothar Wallenstein, and Mr. Leinsdorf restored to the score the scene between Telramund and the four conspiring nobles, sung by Messrs. Darcy, Dudley, Engelman and Pechner, Telramund was sung by Herbert. Janssen. Kerstin Thorborg was the Ortrud and Leonard Warren, the Herald.

Although excellent work was vouchsafed by all the male principals, the dominating feature of the presentation was the Ortrud of Mme. Thorborg. I have never heard this Swedish contralto sing with such consistent tonal splendor in any of the many Wagnerian performances in which she has participated here. The taxing "Fluch," in the second act, she delivered with unforced, gleaming tones and throughout the scenes with Telramund and Elsa she suggested the poetic, and musical content of her part with greater subtlety than I have ever heard her employ before. Seated on the steps of the Munster, clothed in solid black, she presented a truly sinister figure. Her delineation of Ortrud's many faceted character, its pride and hypocrisy, its scornfulness and malignance, was the accomplishment of a remarkable singing actress and one which would lend distinction to any cast.

Mr. Melchior's first-act costume lent him the appearance of a Brobdingnagian jack of spades. In the second act, on the other hand, he was transformed into a huge, glistening pink and white bonbon. However, he was in fine vocal trim.

Mr. Janssen's' sincerely and often richly voiced Telramund, Mr. Cordon's King Henry, dignified in action and superbly sung, and Mr. Warren's resonantly intoned Herald contributed to an often impressive evening under the orchestral guidance of Erich Leinsdorf. Mr. Wallerstein's changes in the stage business consisted mostly of making more space for the principal figures to move about in.

Unsigned review in the World Telegram

Lohengrin Presented At the Met

Miss Varnay Sings Elsa Role with Keen Awareness

Young Astrid Varnay last heard as Sieglinde and Brünnhilde, enrolled Elsa of Brabant on her Metropolitan score-card in last night's "Lohengrin.," the first of the season. Fresh-voiced and otherwise in fine control of the role's requirements, the troupe's latest Wagnerian recruit earned a fully deserved ovation.

Miss Varnay inflected the part with keen awareness of all vocal and emotional nuance. Tones emerged with unsullied purity, sounding even freer and weightier than on both earlier occasions, and the phrasing was musicianly in detail and contour.

The acting side came as naturally as to a veteran, probably a sign that when in doubt the company's new star lets her own good intuition be her guide. Anyway, from Elsa's piteous plea through the whole heaving cycle of moods, the portrait built up life-size to poignant reality. In fact. Elsa of Brabant and Astrid Varnay were artistically made for each other.

As the Swan Knight Lauritz Melchior barged in wearing one of the season's most dazzling costumes, all silver and topped by a winged helmet that looked ready to take off. Beside it all else paled into tawdry raggedness. Mr. Melchior's tones matched the sliver with gold, apart from one or two glints of baser metal.

The Ortrud of Kerstin Thorborg grows with the passing seasons. Barring faint traces of shrillness. Ortrud's conniving came in for ringing speech, and the full impact of balked villainy was in the portrayal. Herbert Janssen's Telramund tallied closely in vocal richness. The all-voice cast included Norman Cordon, nobly intoning King Henry, and Leonard Warren, whose Herald had trumpets for vocal chords. Erich Leinsdorf brought his reading of the score to cohesive unity, though it still lacked vim and polish in spots. Lothar Wallenstein's stage direction kept things in smooth co-ordination.

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