[Met Performance] CID:136790
Das Rheingold {89}
Ring Cycle [73] Uncut
. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/8/1944.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 8, 1944


DAS RHEINGOLD {89}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [73] Uncut
Wagner-Wagner

Wotan...................Herbert Janssen
Fricka..................Kerstin Thorborg
Alberich................Frederick Lechner
Loge....................John Garris
Erda....................Christine Johnson
Fasolt..................Nicola Moscona
Fafner..................Emanuel List
Freia...................Jarmila Novotna
Froh....................Kurt Baum
Donner..................Osie Hawkins
Mime....................Karl Laufkötter
Woglinde................Thelma Votipka
Wellgunde...............Lucielle Browning
Flosshilde..............Helen Olheim

Conductor...............George Szell

Director................Lothar Wallerstein
Set designer............Hans Kautsky

Das Rheingold received two performances this season.


Review of Oscar Thompson in the New York Sun

'RHEINGOLD' UNDER SZELL BEGINS RING

They all sang. That, at least, can be said of the cast of last night's "Rheingold," which opened the Metropolitan's fifty - eighth "Ring des Nibelungen." There was a minimum of barking, shouting and bleating. Some of the voices were too light or otherwise unsuitable, judged by ordinary Wagnerian standards. Not every note was heard and not every one was true to pitch. But on the stage this remained a singing "Rheingold."

It sang also-and notably-in the pit. George Szell conducted with his heart in his task. The orchestra did not always play well, but its blemishes were quickly forgotten in the prevailing eloquence and expressiveness with which the score was interpreted. So far as the instrumental ensemble was concerned, it has been a long time since we have had a "Rheingold" as alive, as adroitly balanced and as superbly clear as this one. The ear jubilantly took note of details that have been under-emphasized or clouded over in the run of past performances.

Less can be said of the staging, which was under Lothar Wallerstein's direction. If ever there was a work that can do without any suggestion of ballet technique it is "Rheingold." And some of the new principals, particularly the Alberich, did not seem to be quite sure of their surroundings. For those on the reviewer's side of the house, Fafner was out of sight during the prodigious thuds that signify the cudgeling of Fasolt. But those who sat over the way reported that he was to be seen peering about, when, of course, it is he that is supposed to be slaying his fellow giant offstage thud on thud.

This time the curtain rose at the right moment on the scene at the bottom of the Rhine. Last season Mr. Wallerstein tried out on us his Vienna notion that the audience should view the Rhine at the outset, thereby robbing the famous Prelude of its entire significance.

Two Good New Impersonations.

Among the principals, two of those who were new to their roles here were particularly praiseworthy. Jarmila Novotna was a gladsome sight as Freia and she sang, and acted distinctly well. John Garris, doing Loge for the first time, was an agreeable surprise. He can give the part more variety of utterance, but it already is a highly creditable impersonation.

Herbert Janssen was a dignified and able Wotan, who sometimes lacked the resonance to make himself heard. The Mime of Karl Laufkotter was its familiar and competent self. Kerstin Thorborg's Fricka, too, was what it has been in the past, with perhaps an added fretfulness in its stridings and gesturings. Kurt Baum was a sufficiently lyrical Froh; and Frederich Lechner a rather too songful Alberich. The curse of the ring was particularly ineffectual. Nicola Moscona's Fasolt left one to surmise that he was still immersed in Italian opera. Fafner was elsewhere in the keeping of Emanuel List.

There was a debut-that of Christine Johnson as Erda. Though nervousness may have contributed to her unsteadiness of tone, she was not happily cast. Osie Hawkins slung the sledge for Donner; and Thelma Votipka, Lucielle Browning and Helen 0lheim chaired for the Rhine Maidens. The house was full.


Photograph of Jarmila Novotna as Freia in Das Rheingold.



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