[Met Performance] CID:140100
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {236} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/6/1945.

(Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 6, 1945


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {236}
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.................Kenneth Schon
Vogelgesang.............Anthony Marlowe
Nachtigall..............Hugh Thompson
Ortel...................Osie Hawkins
Zorn....................Richard Manning
Moser...................Lodovico Oliviero
Eisslinger..............Karl Laufkötter
Foltz...................Lorenzo Alvary
Schwarz.................Wellington Ezekiel
Night Watchman..........Louis D'Angelo

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

Director................Herbert Graf
Set designer............Hans Kautsky

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg received seven performances this season.

SZELL CONDUCTOR OF WAGNER OPERA

Leads 'Die Meistersinger' in Season's First Performance - Orchestral Work Good

Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" received its first presentation of the season last night at the Metropolitan Opera House. The performance moved smoothly, but though the familiar personnel on stage worked with a will, it was only the conducting of George Szell and the playing of the orchestra under his splendid leadership that arrived at real distinction.

For some peculiar reason the first third of the overture had a dispersed sound and was rather uncertain in rhythm. From then on, however, the musicians in the pit were in exemplary form and meticulously followed every behest of the conductor, whose interpretation of the score was not only deeply comprehending and sympathetic, but extraordinarily sensitive. With his guidance, the orchestral support was extraordinarily transparent even in the most complicated contrapuntal passages, and remarkable for richness of texture, sensitivity of detail and emotional impact.

Had the singing on stage been worthy of such superlative instrumental backing, the performance as a whole would have been memorable, indeed. But, unfortunately, with the exception of John Garris in the role of David, none of the members of the familiar cast happened to offer a completely admirable vocal account of the music assigned them.

Mr. Janssen as Hans Sachs failed, on the whole, to make his singing more than merely competent, Something of the profoundly human and expansive nature of the cobbler-poet was captured in the first monologue, "Wie duftet doch der Flieder," but elsewhere the portrayal lacked vitality and vividness of the sort the part asks.

Mr. Kullman's Walther and Miss Steber's Eva had youthful spontaneity in their favor. But neither came near envisaging the vocal demands of the respective roles. Mr. Kullman did some of his best singing in the first-act, "Am stillen Herd," Here the voice acquired considerable amplitude, but most of the time his tones had little volume and were defective in quality, so that it was impossible for him to make himself fully audible in vociferous pages like the ensemble at the close of the [first] act.

If Miss Steber made a charming Eva to the eye, her voice was too light for the leading soprano role, which was accurately delivered, but with a dearth of the color and inner warmth awaited. Miss Thorborg's envisagement of Magdalene was of a pedestrian order, so that the distaff side of the personnel did not arise to the occasion with brilliance.

Mr. Garris gave the outstanding portrayal of the evening, singing David's music cleanly and with full understanding of its vocal and histrionic needs and Mr. List gave an impressive account of Pogner. But Mr. Pechner's Beckmesser, though better sung than this role usually is, instead of depending on the sort of dignity and waspishness that can make the part overwhelmingly humorous, was mostly a matter of exaggerated clowning and exaggerated antics.

New to the cast was Kenneth Schon, who acted Kothner in a stiff, stolid manner and, despite capable vocalization, gave but a straightforward and meaningless delivery of the reading of the Tablature.


Review of Miles Kastendieck in the Brooklyn Eagle

Rossini's "Barber of Seville" Given First Seasonal Hearing at the Met

Time was when the Metropolitan could take Rossini's "Barber of Seville," in its stride. The first performance of the season last night struggled bravely through, giving a great deal of entertainment because of the horse-play used to carry it but leaving the Metropolitan with another problem on its hands. "The Barber" can be done as high comedy without overplaying for the sake of effect alone.

Where the performance limped was in the unbalanced cast, a situation that could have been remedied within the present company. It was carried by two men: Ezio Pinza as Don Basilio and Salvatore Baccaloni as Dr. Bartolo. They had the voices and the stage business to give an excellent show. Unfortunately they exaggerated unnecessarily, turning the work into a farce ably seconded by others in the cast. It was, helped by Martial Singher as Figaro. He gave the best account of a role because of his knowledge of style. What, happened in his case was over-stylization in the French rather than the Italian tradition. Nor is his voice quite heavy enough for the part.

Aside from these singers, the remainder did not contribute enough in vocal strength or conviction to bring the performance into focus. Bidu Sayao was pert and pretty but inaudible for far more of the show than was desirable. Within her small compass, her performance had its good points. Bruno Landi was adequate as the Count, hardly more. Thelma Altman's Berta was acceptable.

Cesare Sodero conducted a fair performance, struggling with the difficulties which the lack of proper balance in the voices presented. He could have asked a crisper performance from the orchestra, the stage direction appeared to be singularly inept since it spilled out of the bounds of comedy. The fun that the audience had was at the expense of the opera as an opera.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).