[Met Performance] CID:137110
Parsifal {158} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/8/1944.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 8, 1944
Benefit for the Metropolitan Opera Fund


PARSIFAL {158}
Wagner-Wagner

Parsifal................Lauritz Melchior
Kundry..................Rose Bampton
Amfortas................Julius Huehn
Gurnemanz...............Emanuel List
Klingsor................Walter Olitzki
Titurel.................Nicola Moscona
Voice...................Margaret Harshaw
First Esquire...........Marita Farell
Second Esquire..........Helen Olheim [Last performance]
Third Esquire...........John Garris
Fourth Esquire..........Karl Laufkötter
First Knight............Emery Darcy
Second Knight...........John Baker
Flower Maidens: Patrice Munsel, Christina Carroll, Helen Olheim,
Marita Farell, Maxine Stellman, Lucielle Browning

Conductor...............Emil Cooper

Director................Lothar Wallerstein
Designer................Joseph Urban

Parsifal received five performances this season.

Review of Jerome D. Bohn in the Herald Tribune

"Parsifal"

Emil Cooper Conducts Wagner Work at the Metropolitan

There are operas which will survive a mediocre performance but "Parsifal" is not one of them. In fact no work in the repertoire demands such zealous preparation and such profound musical insight on the part of the conductor as Wagner's last, and in many ways most extraordinary, product. Unhappily Mr. Cooper, who had not directed this work here before, revealed no little understanding of the score that what should have been an elevated, affecting presentation turned out to be a tiresome disappointing one.

Mr. Cooper's conception was flaccid, wanting in dramatic cogency and intensity. The most poignant pages of the score completely failed of their usual moving effect. His pacing was often far too rapid, his rhythms flabby. The luminous, transparent texture of the instrumentation, one of the most remarkable aspects of this music drama, was incomprehensively treated. The ceremonial scenes were unimpressively realized. In the most stirring moments Mr. Cooper accompanied the singers like a routine conductor of a second-rate Italian opera.

Among the singers, Mr. Melchior, was the most consistently impressive, although he has been known to sing this music more tellingly. Miss Bampton's Kundry is, within its vocal and dramatic limitations, a competent delineation. Her voice has neither the power nor the range required to cope with complete success with the arduous music of the role. Her top tones, while not wanting in strength, are without the essential focus to lend them brilliancy and her lowest tones often approached inaudibility. Her best singing was done in the lyric passages of the "Herzeleide" narrative. But there was little color and nuance and insufficient dramatic power in the unsung episodes.

Mr. List was in poor vocal form, his tones being often wobbly and off pitch. Mr. Huehn's Amfortas was not without its expressive moments, although the dryness of his voice prevents it from being ideal medium for this music. As for the Klingsor of Mr. Olitzki, one cannot say that he sang his part; the noises he emitted had little connection with musical sound. The hidden chorus did not always sing with pure intonation; neither did the Esquires of the Grail, for that matter. The flickering lights during the first scene, the poor timing of the flooding of the Grail with light in the second scene, the jiggling of the surroundings of Kilngsor's Castle and the failure, as usual, to destroy the garden at the close of the second act, were among the flaws other than musical which contributed to the disaffecting aspects of the presentation.



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