[Met Performance] CID:137670
Tannhäuser {343} Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 04/28/1944.

(Review)


Chicago, Illinois
April 28, 1944


TANNHÄUSER {343}

Tannhäuser..............Lauritz Melchior
Elisabeth...............Rose Bampton
Wolfram.................Martial Singher
Venus...................Marjorie Lawrence
Hermann.................Alexander Kipnis
Walther.................John Garris
Heinrich................Emery Darcy
Biterolf................Osie Hawkins
Reinmar.................John Gurney
Shepherd................Maxine Stellman
Dance...................Michael Arshansky
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff
Dance...................Elissa Minet
Dance...................Ilona Murai
Dance...................Leon Varkas
Dance...................Nina Youskevitch

Conductor...............Paul Breisach

Review of Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune

'Tannhäuser' Given a Good Performance

Last night's "Tannhäuser" was not the electrifying performance conducted a year ago by George Szell, but it was Wagner worth hearing, with Lauritz Melchior, Marjorie Lawrence, and Rose Bampton again in leading roles, with Martial Singher new as Wolfram, and with Alexander Kipnis singing the Landgrave for the first time in 14 Chicago seasons. Paul Breisach conducted with a reassuring feeling for the beauty of the score, but he did not weld it into the gleaming, exciting whole that made the opera one of last season's triumphs.

Someone said Melchior looked like a lion, and certainly his wig was a red mane that shook in the winds of passion. But this giant of a man is more than leonine. He has a true heldentenor, and last night that voice was in superb form, sounding as mellow as the hunting horn, and as resounding as an unmuted trumpet. There is graciousness about him, too, quite unconscious, but it goes deeper than stage deportment. When he enters the hall of song, his bow has the courtliness of a big man, who can afford to be gentle. That makes the growing impatience with Wolfram's tribute to love all the more vivid by contrast. When he finally leaps up for his paean to Venus, he has set the scene tingling.

This time he had an interesting adversary in the new baritone, who attracted such favorable attention in "The Tales of Hoffmann." People who had heard Mr. Singher for the first time last night did not hear him at his best. His voice has the French timbre, not quite right for the noble Wolfram, but it is a sympathetic voice, and its owner has a quality of poetic expression welcome to the opera stage. If you liked him last night, you will like him better in his own language and style.

Miss Lawrence, who truly has made that invalid's chair a throne, sang Venus with radiance that often verged on the heroic. Last season her singing of the role was touched with overtones of Isolde - last night it was pure Brünnhilde. Miss Bampton's beautiful Elisabeth sang the greeting to the hall of song adequately, but her plea for Tannhäuser was a remarkable piece of work, rich in the velvet of a voice once contralto, poignant in a purity of expression that reminded me of the finest Elisabeth I ever heard, Lotte Lehmann. It would be interesting to see her develop the whole role in that style, abandoning the early coyness that mars its dignity.

Mr. Kipnis was what he has always been, magnificent, and John Garris sang with such a fresh young tenor I hope the Met has him in mind for David in "Die Meistersinger." Emery Darcy had so little to do it was difficult to judge his future as Mr. Melchior's successor, a destination at least indicated by reports of his New York "Parsifal." The chorus men looked exceptionally rakish in their Wartburg wreaths, but sang well, and the ballet danced the Venusburg in typical style - which was very bad indeed.



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