[Met Performance] CID:149030
Götterdämmerung {164} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/2/1948.

(Debut: Jean Madeira
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 2, 1948


GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG {164}
Wagner-Wagner

Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Gunther.................Herbert Janssen
Gutrune.................Polyna Stoska
Hagen...................Dezsö Ernster
Waltraute...............Margaret Harshaw
Alberich................Gerhard Pechner
First Norn..............Jean Madeira [Debut]
Second Norn.............Martha Lipton
Third Norn..............Jeanne Palmer
Woglinde................Inge Manski
Wellgunde...............Maxine Stellman
Flosshilde..............Hertha Glaz
Vassal..................Emery Darcy
Vassal..................Osie Hawkins

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

Director................Herbert Graf
Set designer............Lee Simonson
Costume designer........Mary Percy Schenck
Lighting designer.......Lee Simonson

Götterdämmerung received five performances this season.

[At the time of her debut, Jean Madeira billed herself as Jean Browning Madeira, the last two names sometimes hyphenated.]

Review of Jerome D. Bohm in the Herald Tribune

Wagner

"Götterdämmerung" Sung at Metropolitan

Not often nowadays do we hear Wagner's music dramas so magnificently performed as was "Götterdämmerung" at its first seasonal unfolding at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. The colossal work was revealed by all concerned, singers, conductor and orchestra, in a manner which made this listener realize anew the matchless tragic grandeur of the German master's stupendous conception.

This was one of those all too rare occasions when every important role was faultlessly cast and the interpreters of those roles were in their best vocal estate. As Brünnhilde, Mme. Traubel reached the peak of her career on this stage, investing her enormously taxing music with unfailing tonal splendor in its most dramatic pages and bringing to its tenderer, more intimate moments appositely colored tones of ravishing texture. Her vocalism was throughout the evening of the utmost expressivity and profoundly affecting. Dramatically, too, she disclosed considerable growth in her portrayal, acting with uncommon intensity, yet always with telling economy of gesture.

Nor has Miss Harshaw ever, in my experience, sung with such complete control of her exceptional vocal resources. Her delivery of Waltraute's narrative was not only highly persuasive as sheer sound, but musically arresting as well. The Gutrune of Miss Stoska was well sung and acted with winsome womanliness. Jean Browning Madeira, who made her debut as the First Norn, disclosed a sizable voice of agreeable quality which, perhaps because of nervousness, she forced injudiciously, so that a strong vibrato was noticeable.

The most commanding impersonation among the male members of the cast was the Hagen of Mr. Ernster, a sinister figure who emanated evil at every turn, utilizing his huge bass voice with almost consistent advantageousness. His tones became somewhat unsteady in his monologue, "Hier sitz ich zur Wacht" in the first act; but his summoning of the Gibichung Vassals in the second act was strikingly effective.

Mr. Melchior's Siegfried assumed a more vital part in the procedure than has been the case in recent seasons, and he sang much of his music to excellent purpose. Mr. Janssen voiced Gunther's music admirably and his understanding grasp of this vacillating character was complete.

Much of the cogency of the performance must be attributed to Mr. Stiedry's discourse of the orchestral score, in which he penetrated to the core of Wagner's music and illuminated every facet thereof with the unerring perception of a musician wholly cognizant of its creator's every intention.



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