[Met Performance] CID:144560
Lohengrin {476} Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/8/1947.


Cleveland, Ohio
April 8, 1947


Lohengrin...............Set Svanholm
Elsa....................Helen Traubel
Ortrud..................Margaret Harshaw
Telramund...............Osie Hawkins
King Heinrich...........Dezs÷ Ernster
Herald..................Hugh Thompson

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

Review of Elmore Bacon in the Cleveland News

Met Troupe's "Lohengrin" Is Thrilling Performance

A magnificent and thrilling performance of "Lohengrin" brought the Met Opera artists many rounds of thunderous applause last night when another capacity audience gathered at Public Hall for this only Wagnerian feast of the season.

Under the magic baton of Fritz Busch this Wagnerian perennial took on new life and brilliance. Helen Traubel sang quite in the tradition as Elsa. And newcomers to the Cleveland Wagnerian scene proved to be jewels of the first order. It was a performance to remember.

The new Met Opera Wagnerian tenor, Set Svanholm, proved to be the answer to a Wagnerian's prayer - a Lohengrin that is slim and good looking and who can sing with power and a rounded full-orbed tone. His voice is flexible, has brilliance, his intonation is perfect and his understanding of the role and his portrayal of the mystic knight add up to virtuosity.

Short-haired Lohengrin

When he arrived via Swan, his shining armor gave an impression of height and girth that were dispelled later when he "peeled" to a flowing robe. And definitely he is our first short-haired Lohengrin and we hope not our last.

Helen Traubel as Elsa sang at her best. Her Dream aria in the first act was highly effective. While she leaves something to be desired on the acting side, vocally she was a most eloquent Elsa. Although a mite thin under some conditions of usage the Traubel voice measures up to the Wagnerian standard. And she puts a wealth of emotion into her singing. She was particularly effective in her scene with Ortrud in the second act.

Basso Scores

The Ortrud of Margaret Harshaw who came to the Met through auditions not so long ago, was an outstanding performance. Hers is a Wagnerian soprano of real depth and color. And she uses her voice with fine artistry. She's an actress too. Her dramatic scene with Telramund in which her voice soared with true Wagnerian splendor won her a fine ovation.

Deszo Ernster, Hungarian singer, gave the role of King Henry true nobility and brought to it a basso of fine quality, great power, and flexibility. Tall and commanding he made the role impressive.

One of the best features of the evening was the portrayal of Telramund by Osie Hawkins, subbing for the ailing Herbert Janssen. Added to a fine baritone was notable dramatic ability and a completely satisfying vocal unfolding of his character's hate and malice. Hugh Thompson as the Herald gave a particularly fine portrayal, his pliant baritone being used with an emotional sense that gave added importance to the role.

Conductor Busch held orchestra, principals and chorus together with a master hand. The thunderous choruses he built up were handled with great skill. The male chorus in the second act was skillfully sung as well as directed. And the overture and the prelude to Act III were presented with fine attention to detail and, in the latter, a hushing of the brasses.

While the second act setting was considerably on the moth-eaten side, the first act and others were excellently staged. And with these new Wagnerian singers we venture the plea that next year in the extended "season" we be given one or more of the "Ring" series.

Review of Herbert Elwell in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Traubel Regal in "Lohengrin"; Svanholm Up to Expectations

There was vocal opulence to spare on the stage of Public Hall last night, when the production of Wagner's "Lohengrin" called forth the best of the Metropolitan's heavy hitting talent. With Wagner it is the survival of the fittest, and the fittest are those singers physically endowed with the lung power and amplitude to stand up against the thick doublings in the rich orchestral fabric.

Towering physically and vocally among the protagonists was Helen Traubel, a truly regal Elsa, whose vibrant soprano, despite its rapid tremolo, soared with radiant splendor in the lofty heights of Wagner's dramatic declamation. A dominating figure if there ever was one, she moved with graciousness, nobility and competence within the conventional orbit assigned her as the legendary heroine.

With equal breadth and all the sinister intensity belonging to the woman who attempts to undermine Elsa's morale, Margaret Harshaw offered a stunning Ortrud, singing with remarkable depth of color and force of expression. There was welcome freshness in the quality of her voice as well as thorough mastery in her singing and acting.

Svanholm Shows Power

Considerable interest focused on the new Scandinavian tenor, Set Svanholm, who sang the part of Lohengrin. Appearing here for the first time, he fulfilled expectations and made a favorable impression both by his histrionic and vocal ability, without bringing to the role what one could describe as exceptional distinction.

He was in appearance all that the glamorous, fair-haired mystery knight should be, a picture of nobility and righteousness, and he behaved with all the dignity, restraint and compassion commensurate with a heaven-sent champion of the wrongly accused. As a singer he has virility, power and complete familiarity with Wagnerian routine. His work, however, did not escape a certain stiffness. His voice in its higher register has a neutral quality which does not favor a highly imaginative type of expressiveness, and he is evidently of the school which believes in attacking tones with a metallic, hammer-like impact.

Osie Hawkins, substituting on short notice for Hebert Janssen, who had throat trouble, turned in a commendable Telramund and sang with impressive conviction, even though his wrathful frustrations were at time a little overdone. Dezso Ernster was highly satisfactory as King Henry. Hugh Thompson was an able Herald.

Though not rated as the heaviest of Wagner's music dramas, "Lohengrin," for all its familiarity, brought one up with something of a start after the mild, poetic and exotic atmosphere of "LakmÚ" the night before. The juxtaposition rekindled a certain admiration for the dignity which Wagner restored to the role of music in opera. To hear it unfold and develop as thought, rather than as decorative embellishment, somehow raises it to the level of adult entertainment and agreeably reminds on that time will never deal too unkindly with any work of art which comes fairly to grips with genuine human emotion.

The qualities of sincerity and depth of feeling which Fritz Busch, the conductor, brought to the performance did much to vivify the real stature of the score. Excellent work was done by the orchestra, as well as the vocal forces, particularly in the matter dynamic contrasts, in which Busch was insistent. The music, in fact, sprang to life, ennobling and glorifying as it should the conflicting passions involved in the murky political intrigue of a 10th-century German dukedom.

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