[Met Performance] CID:147270
Die Walküre {358} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/2/1948.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 2, 1948


DIE WALKÜRE {358}

Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Siegmund................Max Lorenz
Sieglinde...............Polyna Stoska
Wotan...................Joel Berglund
Fricka..................Kerstin Thorborg
Hunding.................Mihály Székely
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Martha Lipton
Helmwige................Maxine Stellman
Ortlinde................Irene Jessner
Rossweisse..............Lucielle Browning
Schwertleite............Evelyn Sachs
Siegrune................Hertha Glaz
Waltraute...............Jeanne Palmer

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


Review of Max de Schauensee in the Evening Bulletin

New Settings Highlight Met's "Die Walküre"

Richard Wagner's "Die Walküre" was presented last night at the Academy of Music by the Metropolitan. Opera Association, A capacity audience greeted this only performance of a "Ring" opera presented in Philadelphia this season. The event was of special interest because of the much heralded new settings by Lee Simonson. Twenty years ago, new scenic investiture for an opera was not an uncommon occurrence and hardly caused a ripple of notice. Today, with the added and enormous difficulties of operatic production, such a thing becomes an extraordinary event. Briefly, Lee Simonson's new sets are merely new sets. They are hardly revolutionary, and in many ways they are pictorially inferior to their predecessors. They appear serviceable, economical and quite simple.

Scenes are Stark

Mr. Simonson favors many flights of steps among his jagged rock piles of Acts II and III, and he is apparently allergic to shrubbery and vegetation. His scenes are stark. The first act, with its huge tree trunk on the far left of the stage and Nothung gleaming from its bark so that only a blind Man could miss it, was the most effective of the three scenes. The [revealing] of the door on the Spring night could certainly have been more poetic. The second act with its mass of drifting, clouds (not always under control of the magic-lantern operator) brings the action of Siegmund's slaying nearer to the audience. The third act, with its flinty pile of rocks, deviates from convention for it discards the tree under which Brünnhilde lies in her magic sleep and plants the recumbent Valkyrie on the right instead of on the accustomed left side of the stage.

Performance Uneven

The lighting of the second act was extremely trying on the faces of the singing-actors -- in fact, quite pitiless as it beat down on Brünnhilde and Fricka. The costumes of Mary Percy Schenck were often ill-advised. Polyna Stoska, the Sieglinde, looked more like the chateleine of a medieval castle than a primitive child of the woods while Brünnhilde's wig and apparel looked as though she were preparing for a cocktail party. The performance was musically uneven under Fritz Stiedry, the first act being decidedly the best. The second and third acts moved slowly at times, and were occasionally orchestrally muddy.

Polyna Stoska, despite her inappropriate costume, lent freshness and clarity of voice to the role of Sieglinde. When forced, her tones became hard and stiff. However, this was a competent job, especially as it was the singer's first Metropolitan appearance in this role, which she has sung abroad.

Lorenz Replaces Melchior

Max Lorenz replaced Lauritz Melchior as Siegmund and undoubtedly contributed the most artistic moments of the evening. Mr. Lorenz, appearing for the first time here in 14 years, is a magnificent actor. He caught the spirit of the music-drama in a way that no one else did. He was always the doomed Walsung, and his postures and moments of repose were often of sculptural beauty. Vocally the tenor gave generously with tones that were not consistently musical in sound. But his sense of text and great fervor of delivery made him a memorable Siegmund.

Helen Traubel, sang the Battle Cry pitched clown half a tone, and not too easily at that. Later, however, she sustained her reputation as a great Wagnerian singer, Joel Berglund's Wotan is stiff and uncommunicative, but his is a solid, resonant voice and he sang his Farewell quite magnificently. Kerstin Thorborg's return to the company, after a year's absence, was the grandiose Fricka, while a new basso, Mihay Szekely, disclosed a superb inky-black voice of great profundity in his debut here as Hunding



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