[Met Performance] CID:141620
Tannhäuser {353} Cleveland Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/23/1946.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
April 23, 1946


TANNHÄUSER {353}

Tannhäuser..............Torsten Ralf
Elisabeth...............Helen Traubel
Wolfram.................Martial Singher
Venus...................Kerstin Thorborg
Hermann.................Alexander Kipnis
Walther.................John Garris
Heinrich................Emery Darcy
Biterolf................Osie Hawkins
Reinmar.................Wellington Ezekiel
Shepherd................Maxine Stellman
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Peggy Smithers
Dance...................Elissa Minet
Dance...................Ilona Murai
Dance...................Natasha Tzvetcova
Dance...................Stephen Billings
Dance...................Josef Carmassi

Conductor...............Fritz Busch

Review of Elmore Bacon in the Cleveland News

"Tannhäuser" Provides Gala Evening of Wagner

A most inspired and brilliant performance of "Tannhäuser" last evening by the Met Opera at Public Hall revealed a new Wagnerian twosome - Helen Traubel and Torsten Ralf. And a Wagnerian conductor, Fritz Busch, whose flashing baton provided us a superb performance of this great music drama. The largest Wagnerian crowd in the history of Met Opera here attended.

It was the first appearance here of Miss Traubel in opera, and our first hearing of Swedish tenor Ralf. And with a supporting cast that was excellent in every way, the Wagnerian story of the struggle between good and evil not only pointed up the emotional intensity -the dramatic vividness of this contest - but evoked such a spell of musical conjuring as to give reality to its supernatural implications.

There was full-throated Wagnerian singing. And an orchestral performance that was a notably fine complement of the brilliance and the beauty of the vocal achievement.

Matching in splendor the Traubel Elisabeth and the Ralf Tannhäuser, Akexander Kipnis was an authoritative and outstanding Landgrave, and Martial Singher a fortunate substitution for the ailing Herbert Janssen, was a fine-spirited and virile Wolfram. Kerstin Thorborg was a voluptuous and dramatic Venus.

The opera about a youth's devotion to sin and his final redemption runs the gamut of human emotion. Its novelty and the brilliance of the music helped in its early days to delay its success. These very qualities - the showy spectacle of the Venusberg episode, the ingenuity and genius revealed by the music score as well as the opportunities afforded for vocal display - have made it the second most popular opera in the Wagnerian repertory.

It was conductor Busch who carried his performance through with such vivid results. Starting out with an Overture given at just the right tempo he swept through the gorgeous Venusberg scene with its dazzling ballet display, maintained a balance that gave the Pilgrim's Chorus real piety, kept the song festival scene with all its drama molded together with authority, provided a discrete accompaniment for the "Evening Star" song and the "prayer" and revealed himself a Wagnerian conductor of full stature.

The Traubel Elisabeth was convincing, dignified, and acted with a well-restrained emotional intensity. The Traubel voice fulfills all the demands made upon it, is of golden texture and of Wagnerian power. Her "Dich, Teure Halle" was given with fine emotion. She was dramatic in a dignified way in her intercession of Tannhäuser after he had halted the song festival with his advocacy of Venus and touching in her final prayer.

The Ralf Tannhäuser was beautifully sung. His clear warm tenor, while not overly robust, was sufficiently so to cope with the orchestral background. He made a fine appearance, and gave to the part the subtle aspects of a young man under a spell.

Kipnis made of the Landrave a fine commanding figure. His duet with Elisabeth was well done, although there are rather rough spots in the lower reaches of his voice. The fine baritone Martial Singher as Wolfram was used with fine artistry and especially so in the hall scene. John Garris was an excellent Walther. Maxine Stellman was an attractive and nicely voiced shepherd, and Osie Hawkins, Emery Darcy, and Wellington Ezekiel were excellent as Bitterolf, Heinrich and Reinmar.

Again the chorus, under the direction of Kurt Adler, made a major contribution to the success of the evening, with Lothar Wallerstein as stage director. And the ballet display in the Venusberg scene was a marvel of color and brilliance…

The scenery was excellent, the only slip of the evening being the running up of the lights too soon in the First Act, with the consequent bobbing up and down of part of the Scene II forest until it reached its proper level.



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