[Met Performance] CID:148000
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg {252} Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 05/11/1948.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
May 11, 1948


DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG {252}

Hans Sachs..............Herbert Janssen
Eva.....................Irene Jessner
Walther von Stolzing....Charles Kullman
Magdalene...............Margaret Harshaw
David...................John Garris
Beckmesser..............Gerhard Pechner
Pogner..................Dezsö Ernster
Kothner.................Kenneth Schon
Vogelgesang.............Thomas Hayward
Nachtigall..............Hugh Thompson
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 Elmore Bacon in the Cleveland News

Janssen Is Stand-out In "Die Meistersinger"

Another near capacity audience gave acclaim to the Met Opera performance of "Die Meistersinger" at Public Hall last night. And again there was a substitution in the cast, Irene Jessner taking the place of Polyna Stoska who was here eager to sing, but suffering from a throat infection.

Outstanding in this lengthy, but gorgeous Wagnerian production was the artistry of Herbert Janssen as Hans Sachs. And under the skillful baton of Fritz Busch the performance flowed along beautifully, the final gathering of the Meistersinger clans offering a thrilling display of pageantry and color.

Charles Kullman has sung Walther many times. His voice wears well. And he sings with dramatic fervor, authority and skill, his final "Prize Song" presentation making a high-spot in the performance.

Fine Production Given

This Wagnerian music drama with its episodes of comedy was given a fine production. And while unlike many operas it lacks a corpse, and the heroine is still alive at the final curtain, she goes through the whole final scene without singing a word.

While other operas, and some of the Wagnerian works reveal the victory of good over evil, it is generally conceded that Wagner in "Die Meistersinger" was taking a sly dig at the music critics. The work shows genius and art overcoming with good sense narrow-minded conventionalism and pedantry.

Irene Jessner gave the role of Eva just the right romantic touch and maintained the dignity of her position as the daughter of a rich and influential citizen of Nuremburg. She has a well rounded vibrant soprano that seemed rather hard in the dramatic high notes and that on occasion was used with a rather explosive effect. Experienced singer, she also gave a clever touch to the comedy implications that came her way.

Janssen's Sachs Noted

The Janssen Hans Sachs has become noted among present-day attempts at the shoemaker role. His gorgeous basso, fluent and rich, was used with notable artistry. He brought to the part nobility of character as well as humor. His scene in which seated at his cobbler's bench outside his door he interrupts the Beckmesser serenade was cleverly done. And his characterization merited the final chorus "Hail Nurenberg's Darling Sachs."

The Kullman characterization of the young knight was excellent. There was inspiration and thrill in his singing test in the first act. And he was quite the impulsive lover in the Beckmesser serenade scene. We have heard him in better voice.

And by the way, Gerhard Pechner is a perfect Beckmesser. In makeup, dramatic action and voice he was the busybody, trickster and disappointed lover.

Garris Sing Eloquently

One of the best characterizations in the whole evening was that of David in which John Garris sang eloquently, with a pliant, warm tenor, and gave the part vigor and action. His appearance with the apprentices in the church scene added to the comedy atmosphere. Margaret Harshaw was a clever Magdalena, her lovely soprano winning much attention especially in the serenade second act.

The ponderous part of Pogner was well played by Deszo Ernster whose sub-cellar basso was at times conspicuously gruff. He was the proud and dignified father in the final pageant.

The presentation of the meistersinger roles in the first act was exceptional. The singers included Kenneth Schon, Thomas Hayward, Leslie Chabay, Anthony Marlowe, Emery Darcy, Hugh Thompson, Osie Hawkins, Lorenzo Alvary and Jerome Hines. And that rough and tumble teen-age riot in front of the cobbler's shop was well done. The street battle's sudden melting away was a clever Wagnerian touch of comedy, making more amusing the appearance of the old and placid night watchman, nicely played by Philip Kinsman.

Orchestra's Work Thrills

And a word for the orchestra. Director Busch presented the [act one] prelude with a fine dramatic touch, gave to the third act prelude a meditative and noble atmosphere that was the Wagnerian intent and fairly thrilled with his presentation of the final pageant scene.

The final chorus marks the change that time brings. During the war the final works "Honor Your German Masters" and "Still Thrives at Home Our Sacred German Art" were eliminated in the performance here and the chorus waved American flags. Last night "German Art" lifted out undisturbed.



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