[Met Performance] CID:147330
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {251} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/8/1948.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 8, 1948


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {251}

Hans Sachs..............Herbert Janssen
Eva.....................Astrid Varnay
Walther von Stolzing....Set Svanholm
Magdalene...............Margaret Harshaw
David...................John Garris
Beckmesser..............Gerhard Pechner
Pogner..................Dezsö Ernster
Kothner.................Mack Harrell
Vogelgesang.............Thomas Hayward
Nachtigall..............John Baker
Ortel...................Osie Hawkins
Zorn....................Leslie Chabay
Moser...................Anthony Marlowe
Eisslinger..............Emery Darcy
Foltz...................Lorenzo Alvary
Schwarz.................Jerome Hines
Night Watchman..........Philip Kinsman

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

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

SVANHOLM HEARD IN "MEISTERSINGER"

Takes Role of Walther for First Time at the Metropolitan - Fritz Busch Conducts

The final "Meistersinger" of the Metropolitan Opera season last night brought with it Set Svanholm's first appearance here as Walther. It is a notable interpretation; notable, aside from the brilliancy of the voice - which has what it takes for Walther's tessitura, for such passages as the finale of the first act. The voice in fact is not of the ideal timbre for the Walther role, since it is a little too brilliant and not sufficiently lyrical in its nature for Wagner's melodic line. This is, nevertheless, with the possible exception of Rene Maison's Walther, unfortunately of seasons past, the best singing of the part that we have heard at the Metropolitan in twenty years. And if it were not such good singing the impersonation would still be an exceptional accomplishment, because of Mr. Svanholm's rare musicianship, and his equally rare sense of the dramatic and the innermost meaning of Walther's role. His is the further advantage of a personable Walther, who carries himself in knightly fashion, and with the impetuousness of youth. One goes back to the quality of the voice and the vocal style, which could be less militant and more bel canto. But here is a Walther to rejoice in - an ornament to the part.

The youthful spirit of Mr. Svanholm's interpretation was responded to by Astrid Varnay as Eva. Her singing was open to criticism for quality and style, but her sincerity and intelligence enabled her to pair very effectively with Walther as a stage figure, and in the significance that she gave her text. The give and take with Hans Sachs in the second act, and the impulsive scenes with Walther, where two young things made headway against pedantry and precedent, and finally triumphed when youth and genius came into its own, was a consummation to be felt by those who watched and listened, and not merely to be understood from the libretto.

Gerhard Pechner's Beckmesser, which makes all the caricature that the law allows, and remains very amusing and expert not only in diction but song, was again an outstanding feature of the cast. Herbert Janssen's very capable Sachs, Margaret Harshaw's excellent impersonation of Magdalene, John Garris' David, also a portrait of high quality, and Derso Ernster's dignified Pogner, completed the list of principals.

Of the Mastersingers John Baker substituted for Hugh Thompson, who was indisposed, as Nachtigall. One need not dilate on details of the chorus performance, which was ragged and not of the customary standard, nor of the poor stage business of the fuguing chorus in the riot scene. Nor of the bad lighting of that scene. Nor were the Meistersingers, as an ensemble, keen-edged. But, as a whole, the performance, with Mr. Svanholm in the lead, was eloquent, and "Meistersinger" is "Meistersinger," and the final scene, as Mr. Gatti-Casazza once remarked to us in time gone by, is the greatest finale in opera.

Fritz Busch, conducting, led orchestra and ensemble with an experienced hand. The theatre was packed. There were the customary demonstrations after each curtain.



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