[Met Performance] CID:137030
Ring Cycle  Uncut. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/29/1944.
Metropolitan Opera House
February 29, 1944
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle  Uncut
First Norn..............Margaret Harshaw
Second Norn.............Lucielle Browning
Third Norn..............Irene Jessner
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Götterdämmerung received two performances this season.
Review of Jerome D. Bohm in The New York Herald Tribune
Not often does one hear the stupendous end of Wagner's trilogy set forth with so much conviction as was the case last night. The enormous demands made by the composer on all concerned, singers, conductors, and orchestra, were met for the most part with exceptional mastery. Mr. Szell, whose conducting of the previous sections of the cycle had been truly magnificent, fittingly climaxed his achievement with this overwhelming discourse of the orchestral score, every facet of which was illuminated by his extraordinary musicianship, and incandescent intensity. It is a long time since New York opera goers have heard anything like it.
Miss Traubel's conception of Bruennhilde has grown greatly in breadth of style and inwardness. Never before has she enacted the scene of the oath on the spear with so much fire, or brought to the conspiracy trio so much brooding despair. Her delineation, if hardly the accomplishment of a great singing actress, is, nevertheless now a well-rounded telling one. Her voice rang forth with almost unflagging power throughout the evening, only occasional phrases giving evidence of effort.
Of late years Mr. Melchior has not given so satisfying an account of Siegfried's arduous music as he did on this occasion, including a brilliant high C as he greets his companions in the last act. Mr. Kipnis's Hagen is a carefully wrought characterization, brutal and sinister, and often impressively voiced. Mr. Janssen's portrayal of the vacillating Gunther was effective both in song and action, and Miss Varnay was an acceptable Gurtune, although the Metropolitan has seen more graceful ones in the not too distant past. Most satisfactory of the three Norns was Miss Harshaw and once again the shimmering voice of Miss Votipka lent its individual color to the trio of Rhine Maidens.
Review of Mark A. Shubart in The New York Times
TRAUBEL EXCELS AS BRUENNHILDE
Gives Notable Performance in 'Goetterdaemmerung' at the Metropolitan
Last night's performance of "Goetterdaemmerung," the first of the season at the Metropolitan, was a remarkable one for several reasons, but chiefly for the singing of Bruennhilde by Helen Traubel, an artistic achievement which should rank with the finest of the season.
Miss Traubel clothed this most arduous of the three Bruennhilde roles in vocal splendor and a dramatic clarity of expression that some of her previous performances in the part have lacked. In such scenes as the second-act denunciation of her betrayers and the oath sworn on the tip of Hagen's spear which follows, she brought out every ounce of energy in the furious declamation and at the same time maintained a flawless control over her voice, which precluded the necessity of forcing the tone and thus marring its natural beauty. Miss Traubel still does not move either gracefully or majestically on the stage as befits a goddess, but last night the drama of her singing and the decisiveness of her dramatic portrayal more than compensated for this lack.
In his familiar role of Siegfried, Mr. Melchior was his usual confident self. If he did not produce his most ringing high notes or strive for other bravura effects his conception of the role was satisfying and was projected with the ease and comfort that bespeak the veteran and the authoritative interpreter. In the duet in the prelude with Miss Traubel his voice was rich and full, and the music had a soaring, joyous lilt which made this section one of the evening's most poignant.
In the Hagen of Alexander Kipnis there was excellent contrast to the two leading roles. Mr. Kipnis gives a properly sinister and bitter characterization, and the naturally dark coloration of the singer's voice is well suited to the role. At times in the first act there was a certain faltering in the voice, but this disappeared as the evening progressed. Mr. Janssen's Gunther and Miss Varnay's Gutrune were somewhat less distinguished but none the less well integrated to the general contours of the production.
The orchestra, which was probably tired after playing "Aida" yesterday afternoon, played sloppily more often than was excusable, with more than a fair share of the blunders going to the trumpets and the horns. Under the dynamic direction of George Szell, however, what it lacked in accuracy and incisiveness, it at least partly made up in the rhythmic drive and power demanded by the conductor. Mr. Szell's influence was particularly noticeable in the second-act choruses, which were sung in a powerful manner, well in keeping with the dramatic outlines of the performance as a whole.