[Met Performance] CID:149490
Siegfried {209} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/14/1949.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 14, 1949


Siegfried...............Set Svanholm
Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Wanderer................Herbert Janssen
Erda....................Kerstin Thorborg
Mime....................John Garris
Alberich................Gerhard Pechner
Fafner..................Dezsö Ernster
Forest Bird.............Paula Lenchner

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

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

Siegfried received four performances this season.

Review of Herbert D. Peyser in the February issue of Musical America

Before the current Metropolitan season ends, we may or may not have heard an entire "Ring cycle." If not, we shall at least have been favored with three-quarters of one, though with longer or shorter curtailments. Even should the "Rheingold" be withheld, local operagoers will still have enjoyed a major part of the great epic.

The return of "Siegfried" was anticipated with special pleasure, not only because the work is possibly the very finest of Fritz Stiedry's Wagnerian achievements, but also because it marked the re-entry into the Metropolitan casts of Set Svanholm, whose peerless Siegfried continues to maintain the proud level from which it has never lapsed. In flawless musicianship, dramatic intelligence, youthful buoyancy and an unmatched plasticity and rightness of every movement and attitude it may be questioned if it has been approached here since the days of Max Alvary.

It had its sovereign qualities when it was revealed afresh on this occasion, though certain inequalities of the performance may have prevented it from exercising to the fullest its memorable effect. Actually, the representation as a whole ended better than it began. In the first act the vital spark, for some reason or other, seemed to be lacking. Little contretemps, in themselves negligible enough, happened from time to time-Mime dropped hammers and had to retrieve them, sword fragments fell or got in the way, the water trough acted up, and, most embarrassing of all, the anvil refused to split when Siegfried hit it with his newly forged Nothung. Except for the last, none of these things would have been worth mentioning if a lesser artist had been involved.

The second act passed off considerably better, and the third, notably the awakening and the love scene-was glorious. It is difficult to remember when one has heard the duet (barring a detail or two) so resplendently sung. This listener, indeed, would be hard pressed to say when Helen Traubel has delivered the music of the bridal Brünnhilde (or, indeed, any other of her Wagnerian parts) with more golden amplitude and radiance of voice. Mr. Svanholm's tones actually seemed to gain in freshness, and his singing had a lyric line and a breadth of phrase it had perhaps wanted in the [first] act. If everything else had gone awry during the earlier part of the evening, the glory of the duet would magnificently have redeemed it.

Herbert Janssen sang the lofty sentences of the Wanderer, though his voice sometimes sounded singularly light, despite the authority he brought to the Wotan role. John Garris' Mime was once more what it so often has been-as fine an embodiment of the dwarf as the Metropolitan has ever harbored. Gerhard Pechner's Alberich is much superior in this work to what it is in "Rheingold." Dezso Ernster's voice was steadier in the defiances and the dying utterances of Fafner than it invariably is, though there is still more in them than he conveys. Kerstin Thorborg delivered the sybilline phrases of Erda to rather better vocal effect than she has done for some time. Paula Lenchner, the Forest Bird, though her tones are not without beauty, lacks the flexibility and resonance the music of this exacting part urgently demands.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).