[Met Performance] CID:139690
Die Walküre {344} Milwaukee Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: 04/29/1945.

(Review)


Milwaukee, Wisconsin
April 29, 1945


DIE WALKÜRE {344}

Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Siegmund................Emery Darcy
Sieglinde...............Astrid Varnay
Wotan...................Herbert Janssen
Fricka..................Blanche Thebom
Hunding.................Emanuel List
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Doris Doe
Helmwige................Maxine Stellman
Ortlinde................Irene Jessner
Rossweisse..............Lucielle Browning
Schwertleite............Margaret Harshaw
Siegrune................Thelma Altman
Waltraute...............Jeanne Palmer

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

Review of John K. Sherman in the Minneapolis Star-Journal

'Die Walküre' Is 2nd "Met" Offering

Second offering of the Metropolitan Opera season was one of those large evenings of the kind only Wagner can provide - music that is a veritable river of tone, drama that is epic, emotion in over-size scale tuned to the noble and tragic.

"Die Walküre," second drama of the "Ring" cycle, is a powerful musical drug, as most of Wagner is. Its web of impassioned tone, stretching with but two interruptions over a long evening, is a miracle of sustained creativeness in characterizations and narrative. Its mottled texture is alive with themes and implications which denote and underline the action.

In fact, much more is happening in the music than in the stage pictures, which are inescapably static, and sometimes, in the Met's old-fashioned staging and lighting, muggy and ineffective. And yet what we saw didn't jar the music but rather gave it the elbow room of the traditional unobstructive setting, whereas modern stylization might have been a distraction.

At any rate, music is still the thing in Wagner, and so long as the ash tree grows in Hunding's hut and the crags trodden by Valhallah's quarrelsome gods are demi-gods are strewn picturesquely in the proper places, the scenic receptacle suffices for music of tremendous pull and pathos and magnetism. The thrill of Siegmund's love song and the telltale spinal chill evoked by Wotan's farewell are authentic signs of Wagner's sorcery.

In the performance last night these were two thrills of many made by singing of stellar magnitude and of consistently dramatic character. Helen Traubel's Brünnhilde was s mighty characterization, her voice was a clarion call, and her second act yo-to-ho made the rafters ring.

Our own Emery Darcy, who at present is outstanding runner-up to Lauritz Melchior in Wagner's tenor roles, covered himself with glory as Siegmund. His fresh and resonant voice was used with vigor and precision, the phrases had character and conveyed the youth and the impulsive vigor one wants to see in this wielder of the sword that failed him.

Astrid Varney made a striking success as Sieglinde, and while at first she seemed a bit prim and stiff in manner, her voice projected with sure aim and with volume behind it when needed, more that made amends. Fricka was handsome visually and impressive vocally as portrayed by Blanche Thebom, who incidentally is no stranger to Minneapolis Symphony Twilight audiences.

Unknown here, Osie Hawkins sang the Wotan role with dignity and simplicity, covering well the temperamental compass between tenderness and commanding authority in his portrait of a god who made mistakes and lived to regret them.

The eight Valkyrie, waving their spears and hallooing from the cliff tops, lived up to all expectations.

Paul Breisach conducted with calm but watchful control, achieved fine variety in tempos and molded the music expressively. He did well enough, certainly, to make one forget to be sorry that George Szell, originally announced as conductor, was not on hand.



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