[Met Performance] CID:146220
Tannhäuser {359} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/1/1947.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 1, 1947


TANNHÄUSER {359}

Tannhäuser..............Max Lorenz
Elisabeth...............Astrid Varnay
Wolfram.................Alexander Sved
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...............Fritz Stiedry


Review of Irving Kolodin in the Sun

Lorenz and Sved Draw in "Tannhäuser"

The competition for the hand of Elisabeth in last night's "Tannhäuser" at the. Metropolitan should have early been called no contest (Wartburg or otherwise), the contestants disqualified, the audience invited back for another occasion. For this an unwitting culprit was Herbert Janssen, who wasn't even present. In consequence of his exertions as Hans Sachs on Saturday. He was enjoying an indisposition which resulted in the appearance of Alexander Sved as Wolfram, thus adding a few final wisps of vocal straw to an amount already back-breaking (for Wagner). Volume Sved has in abundance, and an imposing presence; but the fine Wolframs of recent years have managed admirably with a third the sound and half the displacement. Since the role is almost pure baritone legato, and Sved is a burly bass-baritone verging on the basso, he had the ease in the part of a muralist doing a miniature.

Even so, he held his own in the song contest with Max Lorenz, whose first Tannhäuser was all knowledge and frayed vocal sound. There was intensity in his acting, a superior sense of drama in his declamation of the text, and something of the grand manner of Richard Tauber in his offhand treatment of the vocal line. Unfortunately, the sounds he produced were dryer, less resonant than the generality of Tannhäusers, a minimum standard from which any deviation is intolerable.

These defections in important roles - the shrill Elisabeth of Astrid Varnay was another, if more familiar, liability - left such good works as the performance contained somewhat like two sound strings on an out-of-tune violin. They were there, but they didn't count. Thus, Deszo Ernster was an altogether respectable Landgraf, Blanche Thebom, a warm-voiced Venus and Fritz Stiedry, a conductor of energy and resource, particularly when he could work with the well-sounding chorus. However, since the main event went so badly, the semi-finals and preliminaries hardly mattered. A polite audience received what it heard more graciously than it deserved.



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