[Met Performance] CID:152190
Die Walküre {364} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/12/1949.

(Debut: Ferdinand Frantz
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 12, 1949


DIE WALKÜRE {364}
Wagner-Wagner

Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Siegmund................Lauritz Melchior
Sieglinde...............Astrid Varnay
Wotan...................Ferdinand Frantz [Debut]
Fricka..................Margaret Harshaw
Hunding.................Mihály Székely
Gerhilde................Thelma Votipka
Grimgerde...............Claramae Turner
Helmwige................Regina Resnik
Ortlinde................Irene Jessner
Rossweisse..............Lucielle Browning
Schwertleite............Jean Madeira
Siegrune................Hertha Glaz
Waltraute...............Jeanne Palmer

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

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

Die Walküre received six performances this season.


Review of Herbert F. Peyser in Musical America


The most prizable feature of the season's first "Die Walküre" was to be found in the treatment of the great score by Fritz Stiedry. Noble as this reading has been on repeated occasions, this listener can scarcely remember when it was distinguished by such grandiose sweep and power, as well as by such beauty and finish of detail. Actually, the conductor seemed this time to surpass himself, although the stage performance was less than memorable.

With one exception, the various roles were in familiar hands. Helen Traubel was the Brünnhilde, Astrid Varnay the Sieglinde, Margaret Harshaw the Fricka, Lauritz Melchior the Siegmund, and Mihaly Szekely the Hunding. The solitary newcomer was Ferdinand Frantz, the Wotan. The present reviewer is not anxious to rush into print with a final judgment of the German baritone's qualities, which future appearances should make clearer.

This writer did not receive the impression that Mr. Frantz stems from the great line of Wotans who have walked the Metropolitan stage. His performance was competent, but not conspicuous for distinction or vocal splendor. It may develop in the months to come that he has more format and more dominating presence and authority than he seemed to manifest under the trying circumstances of a New York debut. This time he seemed restless and excessively addicted to nervous gestures and uncontrolled little movements of no particular meaning. Dramatically, his Wotan seemed routine.

His voice, at its best, is an organ of some beauty. In the more lyric passages of the third act it showed signs of unsteadiness, and some of the upper tones were negotiated with effort. Possibly his best accomplishment of the evening was his treatment of as much of the second-act narrative as the Metropolitan allots its Wotans. The beginning of the great passage, in which Mr. Frantz had opportunity to make the most of his low voice, showed him to advantage. In any case, it was a reasonably promising, if inconclusive, debut.

As usual, it was in the Todesverkündigung scene that Miss Traubel did some of her finest singing of the evening, and, of course, the last part of the third act invariably exhibits the warmth and radiance of her tones to the fullest advantage. Miss Varnay's Sieglinde had its customary intelligence and pathos. Fricka is not one of Margaret Harshaw's outstanding roles; and her voluminous green robe afflicted the vision.

There is little to add to what has so often been said of Lauritz Melchior's Siegmund. This time a musical slip or two momentarily imperiled the smoothness of things. Mihaly Szekely's Hunding was sung with so much beauty of tone that one almost missed the rudeness of that barbaric chieftain.



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