[Met Performance] CID:138930
Götterdämmerung {156}
Ring Cycle [75] Uncut
. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/20/1945.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 20, 1945


GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG {156}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [75] Uncut

Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Gunther.................Herbert Janssen
Gutrune.................Astrid Varnay
Hagen...................Emanuel List
Waltraute...............Kerstin Thorborg
Alberich................Frederick Lechner
First Norn..............Margaret Harshaw
Second Norn.............Martha Lipton
Third Norn..............Jeanne Palmer
Woglinde................Thelma Votipka
Wellgunde...............Mona Paulee
Flosshilde..............Hertha Glaz
Vassal..................Richard Manning
Vassal..................Osie Hawkins

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


Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

'TWILIGHT OF GODS' AT METROPOLITAN

Szell Conducts Uncut Score of Wagner Opera. Fourth in the Special Cycle

The "Goetterdaemerung" performance of the special cycle of Wagner operas took place last night in the Metropolitan Opera House. The effect was compelling between the completeness of the uncut score, revealed with no particle of its meaning or dramatic significance missing, the high general excellence of the performance on stage and the commanding brilliancy of Mr. Szell in the orchestra pit. In the musical sense, at least, the occasion was one to rejoice in and, for that, an enormous audience was present.

The performance was marred by one of Mr. Wallerstein's most officious and ill-judged distortions of stage business. He is apparently one of those regisseurs who just cannot let well enough alone and must if possible obfuscate the plain dramatic intention of a music-drama by fussing it up with superfluous and distracting detail.

In order to be doing something, and no doubt with the intention of proving that that "something" is new and original, Mr. Wallerstein has his Hagen down before the footlights in the episode of the Hagen chorus, patting his retainers on the shoulders as if to say "Call me all." Part of the time Hagen stands in front, facing the choristers with his back to the audience, which seems to be one of the fascinating new ideas of modern middle European stagecraft.

Invisible Siegfried

The effect of the tremendous moment of the oath on the spearhead is almost entirely lost because when Siegfried advances for this purpose the chorus clusters around and almost in front of him, in such a way that many in the audience cannot see him; then these same choristers have to distract the audience again by being obliged suddenly to move back in order to throw disproportionate emphasis and limelight upon Brunnhilde.

The action is cluttered up with superfluities almost through this act; the impact of the final moment is lost by Mr. Wallerstein's overloading with detail the last tableau. The lightning flashes in this act are unnecessary and are a relic, we believe, of bad German tradition! As for the costumes and color schemes of the stage, the less said the better. These could be corrected in such a way as to give the stage plenty to do without bamboozing the dramatic scheme. But of course they are unimportant.

By compensation there was very good singing and there was an uncanny dramatic and effective Hagen-when he was not hiked around the stage by the regisseur, on the part of Mr. List. It is a long time since we have seen the role done at the Metropolitan as he does it, starkly, powerfully, and always with sinister import.

Miss Traubel Brilliant

One admires Miss Traubel's singing of Brunnhilde the more when one realizes how she has learned this opera and most of the other Wagnerian rôles on the Metropolitan stage and with no European background for her achievement, and how few females on either side of the ocean today can meet its requirements. Mr. Melchior was again in excellent voice and again impressed his listeners by his virility and brilliancy. Every solo part was properly filled. Then there was the singing of the savage Hagen chorus, an episode which Mr. Szell emphasized splendidly, so that it sounded really wild, tribal, primitive. One would like to go farther into the matter of the orchestral interpretation but there will be other occasions for that. There was immense enthusiasm between the acts and at the end of the opera.



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