[Met Performance] CID:132890
Siegfried {194}
Ring Cycle [71] Uncut
. Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/6/1942.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 6, 1942 Matinee

Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [71] Uncut

Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Brünnhilde..............Elisabeth Rethberg
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Mime....................Karl Laufkötter
Alberich................Walter Olitzki
Fafner..................Emanuel List
Forest Bird.............Nadine Conner

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

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Set designer............Jonel Jorgulesco

Siegfried received two performances this season.

[Jorgulesco designed the set only for Act III, Sc. 2.]

Review of Howard Taubman in The New York Times

Time was when Wagner's music-dramas, especially the last great works, dominated the Metropolitan Opera repertory. But the absence of one singer and the war have made a difference. Thus yesterday afternoon's performance of "Siegfried," the third presentation in the annual Wagner cycle, was the season's first for the music-drama, and works like "Tristan and Isolde" and "Die Meistersinger" have not been done at all, with little or no likelihood that they will see production this season.

Yesterday's cast was familiar in most roles. Most important change was the assumption by Elisabeth Rethberg of the role of Bruennhilde. Give Miss Rethberg credit for being a good soldier in the ranks as well as for being an ambitious artist. She had not sung this role anywhere before, and she knew that its cruelly difficult pages offer a challenge for the most courageous sopranos. But the Metropolitan Opera is short of dramatic sopranos experienced in the great Wagner roles. Kirsten Flagstad is in Norway, and Marjorie Lawrence is ill. Miss Rethberg made a brave showing.

The Siegfried was, as almost always, Lauritz Melchior, who has the sheer stamina and vocal, powers for this longest of roles. The tenor sang with fullness of voice and with sweep and authority. His traversal of the climax of the first act was a thing of irresistible drive. As for his playing of the part-how would most of us look, accoutered in a brief bearskin, romping on a big stage and trying to look half our age?

Friedrich Schorr brought the poise and perception of his fine art to the role of the Wanderer, which remains most accessible to his current vocal estate. Karl Laufkoetter's Mime was credible and well sung, Karin Branzell gave opulence and distinction to the pages of Erda. Walter Olitzki was clipped in song and malevolent in manner as Alberich. Emanuel List gave weight to Fafner. And Nadine Conner, singing the voice of the forest bird for the first time here, managed the role with lyricism and warmth.

Erich Leinsdorf paced the performance knowingly, with the sweep, grandeur and joyousness of what has been called the massive Scherzo of "The Ring."

Review of Miles Kastendieck in the Brooklyn Eagle

For the first time this season the sword Northung was forged, the dragon killed, and the sleeping Bruennhilde awakened by Siegfried as the Wagner Cycle advanced to third opera of the "Ring" at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday afternoon. It was good to be saturated with the music of this opera again and to follow the timeless story through over four hours of performance. The work has a completeness all its own, a somewhat fortunate circumstance since the Bruennhilde, who was awakened was not the Bruennhilde put to sleep by the beautiful slumber music of "Die Walkuere." Wotan would have been surprised, and the subscribers to the "Ring" might well be annoyed, for inconsistency in casting detracts from the illusion in which even inveterate operagoers like to indulge.

While it was a good performance on the whole, there were blots on the escutcheon not easily overlooked. At no time has Friedrich Schorr's singing in the mountain scene been so inadequate, yet there is no one else now available who can impart the attributes of majesty to the Wanderer as he does. The twilight of the god was conspicuous part in this performance. The Bruennhilde of Elizabeth Rethberg has as many good moments as bad. She looked well but more as a person singing as Bruennhilde than as a goddess herself. There were top notes which called for considerable reaching and for more breadth than was readily summoned; this role was something of a tax on her vocal resources. Yet, she managed to convey some of the essence of the scene with Siegfried, which ended so happily for both. In matters of stage lighting, the afternoon was a sad affair.

Two notable portrayals carried this performance: that of Lauritz Melchior as Siegfried and that of Karl Laufkoetter as Mime. It would be difficult to imagine a better giant and dwarf act that the one they stage, both singing with distinction. The Alberich of Walter Olitzki offered admirable support. Nadine Conner distinguished herself singing the music of the forest bird. Her clear, well-rounded tones caught the ear of the audience as well as Siegfried. This voice holds much promise. Emanuel List sang Fafner and Karin Branzell Erda.

Mr. Leinsdorf conducted a sonorous performance. His faithful earnest reading of the score assured a well-coordinated interpretation with here and there moments of eloquence from the players. The audience appeared larger for this opera than the others of the cycle and was intent in its following of the performance.

Review of Grena Bennett in the Journal

The special matinees of the "Ring" cycle reached another chapter toward its finish at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday with the season's first performance of "Siegfried," the third music drama in Wagner's "Nibelungen" saga.

Interest was directed to Elisabeth Rethberg's first portrayal of Bruennhilde in the many years she has been appearing with the organization. Her characterization was individual in its enactment, stressing the more tender womanly quality than has generally been accepted. In the awakening scene she was natural, devoid of delsartian gestures, and appealingly feminine. Her singing leaned more to the lyric than to broad dramatic inference and was genuinely expressive.

Lauritz Melchior, who has sung the name part countless times, gave a compelling performance in which excellent vocalism and dramatic acting were artfully merged. The Wanderer was sung by Friedrich Schorr in much better voice than he has shown this season. Another meritorious detail of the presentation was Karin Branzell's Erda. Her tones at times were convincingly sombre in dark predictions and rising to passionate declamation in calamitous portents.

The Mime of Karl Laufkoelter was, as in seasons past, an incomparable delineation of that crafty, cringing character; and Walter Olitzki met the musical and histrionic demands of the vehement Alberech. Nadine Conner voiced the Forest Bird's music delightfully, and the sonorous plaints of Fafner were sung by. Emanuel List.

Mr. Leinsdorf conducted.

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