[Met Performance] CID:138490
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {228} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/12/1945.

(Debut: Julius Dove
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 12, 1945
Revised production


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {228}
Wagner-Wagner

Hans Sachs..............Herbert Janssen
Eva.....................Eleanor Steber
Walther von Stolzing....Charles Kullman
Magdalene...............Kerstin Thorborg
David...................John Garris
Beckmesser..............Gerhard Pechner
Pogner..................Emanuel List
Kothner.................Mack Harrell
Vogelgesang.............Donald Dame
Nachtigall..............Hugh Thompson
Ortel...................Osie Hawkins
Zorn....................Richard Manning
Moser...................Lodovico Oliviero
Eisslinger..............Karl Laufkötter
Foltz...................Lorenzo Alvary
Schwarz.................John Gurney
Night Watchman..........Louis D'Angelo

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

Director................Herbert Graf
Set designer............Julius Dove [Debut]
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Choreographer...........Laurent Novikoff

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg received eight performances this season.

[The sets for Acts I and III, designed by Julius Dove, were borrowed from the Chicago Grand Opera Association.]

Review of Virgil Thomson in the Herald Tribune

Fairytale About Music

Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg," which was given again at the Metropolitan Opera House last night after an interval of five years, is the most enchanting of all the fairy-tale operas. It is about a never-never land where shoemakers give vocal lessons, where presidents of musical societies offer their daughters as prizes in musical contests and where music critics believe in rules of composition and get mobbed for preferring young girls to young composers.

It is enchanting musically because there is no enchantment, literally speaking, in it. It is all direct and human and warm and sentimental and down to earth. It is unique among Wagner's theatrical works in that none of the characters takes drugs or gets mixed up with magic. And nobody gets redeemed according to the usual Wagnerian pattern, which a German critic once described as "around the mountain and through the woman." There is no metaphysics at all. The hero merely gives a successful debut recital and marries the girl of his heart.

And Wagner without his erotico-metaphysical paraphernalia is a better composer than with it. He pays more attention to holding the interest by musical means, wastes less time predicting doom, describing weather, soul states and ecstatic experiences. He writes better voice-leading and orchestrates more transparently, too. "Die Meistersinger" is virtually without the hubbub string-writing that dilutes all his other operas, and the music's pacing is reasonable in terms of the play. The whole score is reasonable. It is also rich and witty and romantic, full of interest and of human expression.

The first of the successful operatic comedies for gigantic orchestra, like Verdi's "Falstaff" and Strauss's "Rosenkavalier," it is the least elephantine of them all, the sweetest, the cleanest, the most graceful . For the preservation of these qualities in performance George Szell, the conductor, and Herbert Graf, the stage director, are presumably responsible. For the loan of some new scenery, which enhanced the final tableau, the Chicago Civic Opera Company merits our thanks, For careful singing and general musical good behavior all the artists deserve a modest palm.

Charles Kullman, who sang the tenor lead, did the most responsible and satisfactory work altogether, I should say. John Garris, as David, Herbert Janssen, as Hans Sachs, and Gerhard Pechner, as Beckmesser (and he didn't ham this role, either) were highly agreeable. Eleanor Steber's Eva was pretty to look at but vocally satisfactory only in the difficult moments. Elsewhere there was a careless buzz in her voice. Emanuel List, as Pogner, sang well but a little stiffly, keeping his voice down to match the others, who are all small-volume vocalists. Mr. Szell kept the orchestra down, too, so that everybody could be heard. The performance all through was charming, intelligible and a pleasure to this usually anti-Wagnerian opera fan.



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