[Met Performance] CID:138700
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {229} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/30/1945.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 30, 1945


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {229}

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

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

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

"Die Meistersinger" is Presented by Metropolitan Opera Co.

The musical apex of the 1944-45 season was reached at the Academy of Music last night when the Metropolitan Opera Association presented Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" before a sold-out house.

"Meistersinger" is not only one of the greatest masterpieces in all music, it is also one of the greatest single achievements in the entire world of artistic expression.

Who except Wagner has so deftly recaptured the flavor of a bygone period; the atmosphere, psychology and heartbreak of a whole town; the inevitable attraction of a pair of spring-like lovers; the serene, almost, sublime resignation of an aging man; the laughter, the little things of life?

The Metropolitan last night presented an interpretation of the huge and detailed canvas of 16th century Nurnberg that was in every way worthy of its subject.

George Szell conducted a performance of infinite delicacy and nuance, a performance that was ever aware of the human element in the story, of the breadth and scope of Wagner's art. It would indeed be hard to find a more satisfactory orchestral account of this score. If one were to single out a single moment, one might think back with gratitude to the perfection of the playing of that supreme piece of music - the prelude to the third act.

The opera was excellently cast. Herbert Janssen's voice may lack some of the weight and depth for the music of Hans Sachs, but his singing is so beautiful in quality, his style so noble and distinguished, just to hear him was a constant pleasure. Mr. Janssen's interpretation of what is the opera's central character was also a matter for rejoicing. Sach's human and affectionate traits were vividly portrayed. The character was never heavy or stale.

Eleanor Steber and Charles Kullman were in every way satisfactory as the lovers. Miss Steber's Eva has a dewy, fragrant touch that well becomes it; her singing of the thrilling passage, "O Sachs, mein Freund!" and the wonderful quintet were managed with a tone that was youthful in its strength, steadiness and freshness. Mr. Kullman's Walter is very lyric, but it is ardent and chivalrous in deportment and charming to listen to. Certainly this is a far preferable impersonation than those sometimes give by the aged-barrels with stentorian tones whom we have occasionally seen and heard as the stalwart knight.

There was an excellent Beckmesser by Gerhard Pechner and a capital Magdelene in the person of Kerstin Thorborg, who is always the artist no matter what she undertakes.

It is a matter of regret that John Garris had to be replaced by Karl Laufkötter in the role of David. The later was merely competent and not always reliable vocally.

For some reason difficult to explain, that wonderful moment at the close of the second act - when the hubbub has suddenly subsided and the lonely street flooded with moonlight is traversed by the night watchman - was not as effectively achieved as it might have been.

One came from the Academy with a deep sense of privilege, a sense of gratitude that "Die Meistersinger," after five years' absence, was brought to us once again.



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