[Met Performance] CID:143880
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {243} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/1/1947.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 1, 1947


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {243}
Wagner-Wagner

Hans Sachs..............Herbert Janssen
Eva.....................Astrid Varnay
Walther von Stolzing....Set Svanholm
Magdalene...............Margaret Harshaw
David...................John Garris
Beckmesser..............Gerhard Pechner
Pogner..................Dezsö Ernster
Kothner.................Mack Harrell
Vogelgesang.............Thomas Hayward
Nachtigall..............Hugh Thompson
Ortel...................Osie Hawkins
Zorn....................Leslie Chabay
Moser...................Lodovico Oliviero
Eisslinger..............Emery Darcy
Foltz...................Lorenzo Alvary
Schwarz.................Philip Kinsman
Night Watchman..........Philip Kinsman

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

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

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg received three performances this season.


Review of Robert A. Hague in the newspaper, PM

The Met Does Its Duty By "Die Meistersinger"

The news concerning the season's first "Die Meistersinger" at the Metropolitan is good. With several new voices in the cast, and with Fritz Busch at the helm for the first time, Wagner's masterly musical story was, if anything, better set forth than it had been last season. And when it is illuminated as well as it is at the Met, this glowing panorama-in-song of comedy, romance, folkways, philosophy, poetry and pageantry provided four hours of sustained delight, a pleasure that passes all too quickly.

For where in all opera are so many good things piled one upon another so generously as they are in this happy and broadly human masterpiece, which started out to satirize, and ended by immortalizing, the Mastersingers of 16th Century Nuremberg? Take, for example, the wonderful third act. From the [first] bars by the cellos in the orchestral prelude to Hans Sachs' apotheosis before the cheering crowd at the final curtain, there is a continuous flow of musical rewards. Its [first] scene, in Sachs' workshop, offers us in unbroken succession Sachs' great monolog, "Wahn! Wahn!," Walthter's dream-song, the antics of the frantic Beckmesser, the touching colloquy between Eva and Sachs and then with Walther, and finally the entrance of David and Magdalene, the beautiful quintet.

And then, while the orchestra holds our attention, the scene quickly changes to the meadow outside Nurenberg on Midsummer's Day - with its parade of the trades guilds, its singing and dancing on the green, Becknmesser's comic fiasco and, at last, the crowning glory of the Prize Song itself. Where else, indeed, do such manifold pleasures follow one another so closely?

The present performance disclosed a fine new Walther in Set Svanholm. Both in voice and bearing he fits the role better than any other Walther of recent seasons. From the Trial Songs of Act I to the final Prize Song, he delivered all of the music effortlessly, with ample volume and admirable clarity and brightness of tone. Having already had marked success this season as Siegfried, Tristan and Siegmund, the Swedish tenor, with the showing he made in the lighter but no less difficult role in "Die Meistersinger," has easily won the Met sweepstakes for Wagnerian Mastersinger of the year.

Of the other newcomers to the cast, Astrid Varnay made a handsome and winning Eva, singing her music with considerable skill and beauty of tone. Deszo Ernster brought authority and a big, if not always reliable, voice to the role of Pogner; and Margaret Harshaw was a thoroughly acceptable Magdalene. Of the more familiar principals, Mr. Janssen was in generally good voice and again lent dignity, wise humor and warm humanity to the part of Hans Sachs. Mr. Garris's David was as animated and clear-voiced, and Mr. Pechner's comic portrait of the fussy Beckmesser as artful and detailed, and as hilariously effective, as ever.

Mr. Busch's vigorous and elastic beat resulted in a lively and lucid communication of the music. His tempi were just, and the balance maintained between vocal and instrumental forces were equitable. With the collaboration of a responsive orchestra and chorus, he achieved rousing yet orderly musical bedlam in the climactic street brawl of the Midsummer's Eve scene. In fact, all the large ensembles were unusually well handled. There was no doubt that "Die Meistersinger" remains one of the Met's more successful and satisfying productions.



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