[Met Performance] CID:146040
Tannhäuser {358} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/13/1947.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 13, 1947


TANNHÄUSER {358}
Wagner-Wagner

Tannhäuser..............Torsten Ralf
Elisabeth...............Astrid Varnay
Wolfram.................Herbert Janssen
Venus...................Blanche Thebom
Hermann.................Dezsö Ernster
Walther.................John Garris
Heinrich................Emery Darcy
Biterolf................Osie Hawkins
Reinmar.................Philip Kinsman
Shepherd................Maxine Stellman
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Peggy Smithers
Dance...................Lorraine Ammerman
Dance...................Elissa Minet
Dance...................Ilona Murai
Dance...................Josef Carmassi
Dance...................William Sarazen

Conductor...............Wolfgang Martin

Director................Dino Yannopoulos
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Tannhäuser received eight performances this season.

Review of Noel Strauss in The New York Times

MARTIN CONDUCTS AT METROPOLITAN

Replacing Indisposed Stiedry, He Directs "Tannhäuser" Without a Rehearsal

Wagner's "Tannhäuser," which was dropped from the repertoire last season, came to performance last night at the Metropolitan. Because of the sudden indisposition of Fritz Stiedry, the opera was conducted on short notice by Wolfgang Martin, who had no opportunity to hold a rehearsal. Under similar circumstances, Mr. Martin had substituted for Bruno Walter at a presentation of "Tristan and Isolde" last season and, as at that first chance to direct at the house, he again led with praiseworthy skill.

Considering the handicap he suffered, Mr. Martin could be excused if the overture and the introduction to the second act were somewhat wanting in brilliance and élan. On the whole, he acquitted himself admirably of a difficult task, holding his forces together with a firm hand and investing his reading with animation and sensitivity. Especially worthy of note was his brisk account of the "March" in the second act, which was led to an unusually stirring climax.

Janssen Sings Wolfram

As for the vocalism on this occasion, it could hardly arouse much enthusiastic comment, being for the most part quite below par. The most completely satisfying singing was provided by Herbert Janssen, who delivered Wolfram's music with rich, mellow, finely controlled tones, and gave a really distinguished portrayal, one that was both deeply felt and nobly projected. Rarely is Wolfram's aria at the song contest in the Wartburg made as interesting and vital a part of a "Tannhäuser" performance as Mr. Janssen found possible to achieve with it, and all of his other work was on an equally high plane.

In the formidable role of Venus, Blanche Thebom could be commended for her vivid characterization, which has improved radically since she first assayed the part. Having become more at home in it, she acted with a new freedom and assurance, moving with conviction from moods of tenderness and allure to those of rage and despair. In general, she met the exactions of the difficult tessitura of the part with ease, and except for occasional open, pushed top tones and waverings of the voice, her singing was adequate to the demands of the role and often of pronounced tonal beauty and dramatic intensity.

Ralf Takes Title Role

Torsten Ralf proved himself competent, but by no means exceptional, in the title role. The upper reaches of the voice were tight, and though his vocalism was otherwise acceptable, it was so lacking in color to avoid monotony, and histrionically little was made of the opportunities offered. As Elizabeth, Astrid Varnay sang far too often with spread, off-pitch sounds to arrive at success, but her work was not without considerable expressiveness.

Deszo Ernster's dry voice was ill-suited to the Landgraf's outpourings, and John Garris as Walther, Osie Hawkins as Biterolf, Emery Darcy as Heinrich, and Philip Kinsman as Reinmar gave muddled and ill-balanced delivery of the sextet in the second scene. But one of the joys of the evening was the pure, effortless singing of Maxine Stellman as the shepherd.



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