[Met Performance] CID:132780
Die Walküre {328}
Ring Cycle [71] Uncut
. Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/28/1942.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 28, 1942 Matinee

Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [71] Uncut

Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Siegmund................Lauritz Melchior
Sieglinde...............Lotte Lehmann
Wotan...................Friedrich Schorr
Fricka..................Kerstin Thorborg
Hunding.................Alexander Kipnis
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Mary Van Kirk
Helmwige................Maria Van Delden
Ortlinde................Maxine Stellman
Rossweisse..............Lucielle Browning
Schwertleite............Anna Kaskas
Siegrune................Helen Olheim
Waltraute...............Doris Doe

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

Review of Robert Lawrence in the New York Herald Tribune

The performance of Wagner's "Die Walküre" yesterday afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera House had its impressive movements. There were reasons, though, why the matinee did not maintain a high degree of interest throughout. First of all came inequalities in the work itself, which could have been glossed over only by a magnificent mounting. The long scene between Wotan and Fricka; Wotan's expansive second-act monologue; the "Ride of the Valkyries," when eight agitated women scurry about the surface of a rock uttering strange cries, demand ideal conditions to be projected successfully. Otherwise, these episodes are liable to mar much of "Die Walkure's" appeal for an audience.

Whether a performance of this work seems long or short depends almost exclusively upon the conductor; and the metronomic quantities of tempo have nothing to do with the case. It is intensity that will carry a music-drama of Wagner toward the effect that the composer had in mind. Intensity plus a thorough-going architectural sense, whereby the conductor-at the moment that he begins the prelude-is able to hear in his inner ear the closing bars of the opera and their relationship to what he is out to undertake. Yesterday, Eric Leinsdorf did not bring this sense of vaulting proportion to his direction of the orchestra. Quite aside from the inferior playing of the brass section for which he was in no part responsible, the instrumental performance lacked distinction. Mr. Leinsdorf has a notable conducting technique and complete command of his musicians. But this "Walküre" seemed to be a series of impromptu climaxes and recessions rather than any deliberate and masterly building in the direction of an emotional goal.

Lotte Lehmann was in admirable voice as Sieglinde. The old beauty of tone that one associates with this artist remained with her for most of the afternoon. Occasionally there were evidences of vocal strain but on the whole this ranked as a performance of memorable beauty. I found it hard, however, to take Mme. Lehmann's Sieglinde seriously from the dramatic point of view.; She overacted decisively, perhaps from an excess of enthusiasm; but the result was none the less odd.

Her twin brother of the afternoon; Lauritz Melchior, as Siegmund, sang well. Space does not permit me to discuss what passed for his acting. My chief objection to this Siegmund, in spite of his heroic tones, was the unmusicality of his approach. Mr. Melchior could simply not keep time with the orchestra. I lost track after a few bars of the first-act "Spring Song," of the many different tempi which the tenor was batting across the footlights. Their plenitude overwhelmed me. A certain rugged sincerity underlay most of his work during the afternoon. But of all the roles that Mr. Melchior assumes-and many of them are superbly done-none fits him less becomingly than Siegmund.

Alexander Kipnis was a good Hunding, acting with dignity and singing with poised tone. Too often, though, he spoke his climatic lines Instead of producing them in song. Friedrich Schorr's Wotan is familiar to all opera-goers of this generation. It did not vary yesterday. Kerstin Thorborg provided an effective Fricka, sometimes too shrill but predominantly in the vein.

At this matinee Helen Traubel sang her second Brünnhilde anywhere. She has already learned to move more gracefully on the stage and it is to be hoped that her feeling for the theater will progress even further. What was to be especially admired yesterday was the supreme beauty of her voice. Baring a regrettable crack-up on the final tone, the "Hojotoho" was brilliantly done. And during the whole performance one could cherish the warmth, fullness and technical security of Mme. Traubel's singing.

There were some passages that still need further working out. The Death Annunciation of the second act did not have enough mystery or body of tone. In general, Mme. Traubel's chief shortcoming was a constant alteration between a full voice of radiant splendor and a half-voice which although plaintive, did not serve her well enough as an emotional medium. Her general approach however, was so noble that I can foresee the development of an outstanding Brünnhilde,

The stage direction remained commendably anonymous on the printed program.

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