[Met Performance] CID:144280
Parsifal {170} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/13/1947.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 13, 1947


PARSIFAL {170}
Wagner-Wagner

Parsifal................Torsten Ralf
Kundry..................Rose Bampton
Amfortas................Mack Harrell
Gurnemanz...............Joel Berglund
Klingsor................Gerhard Pechner
Titurel.................Dezs÷ Ernster
Voice...................Margaret Harshaw
First Esquire...........Mimi Benzell
Second Esquire..........Irene Jordan
Third Esquire...........John Garris
Fourth Esquire..........Leslie Chabay
First Knight............Felix Knight
Second Knight...........Osie Hawkins
Flower Maidens: Mary Henderson, Florence Quartararo, Hertha Glaz,
Mimi Benzell, Irene Jordan, Lucielle Browning

Conductor...............Fritz Stiedry

Director................Herbert Graf
Designer................Joseph Urban

Parsifal received three performances this season.


Review of Irving Kolodin in the Sun

STIEDRY LEADS FIRST "PARSIFAL"

Conductor at Metropolitan in Wagner Opera

"Parsifal," which can be a bore or a boon, was much more of the latter at the Metropolitan Opera House last night than it has been for several seasons past. There were new performers in the three important roles, but they could have done as well as they did and still labored in vain had there not been a new hand on the direction as well. This was Fritz Stiedry's, and a truly Wagnerian one, too.

Any anticipations based on Stiedry's previous conducting had to be discarded, for the justness of his pacing, the sensitivity of his phrasing and his over-all knowledge of the score were a revelation. A partial answer may be that much of "Parsifal" is written for strings, and Stiedry has a light and coaxing hand for such textures. Save for some pardonable brass slips, the playing would have dignified any orchestra, especially in the "Good Friday" music.

The scene was the evening's emotional and artistic climax, as it is bound to be of any self-respecting performance of "Parsifal," bringing together, as it does, the three principal characters of the drama. Joel Berglund's Gurnemanz reached the peak here in as touching a delivery of the part as has been heard in years. Most singers bring some traces of other characters to this one, but Berglund's was completely seer and mellow, of humility all compact. Moreover, it was pure baritone-lyric singing, and not the gruff, in-between basso kind we have been having lately.

Bampton's Kundry

Though Kundry has little but muffled cries in this scene, Rose Bampton made her as much a part of the action by her expert pantomime as she had previously by her excellent singing. Her garden scene with Parsifal was full of luminous tone, and a kind of dramatic impact she has rarely commanded in the past. Moreover, her appearance made Parsifal's steadfastness something more of a self-denial than it usually is.

The other new performance to match the distinction of these was Mack Harrell's Amfortas, beautifully vocalized and thoroughly in command of the desperate poignance of the part. Torsten Ralf was a thoroughly good Parsifal, a little more tentative in the third act than he might have been, and Deszo Ernster delivered the off-stage music of Titurel successfully. Forethought was reflected in the casting of such singers as Gerhard Pechner (Klingsor), John Garris (as Esquire), Felix Knight, Osie Hawkins (Knights of the Grail), Margaret Harshaw (a Voice) and Irene Jordan in supporting roles. The flower maidens, too, were both young in voice and appearance, though what Wagner had in mind for them can hardly be realized in a theater which has, after all, a section called the family circle.



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