[Met Performance] CID:158280
Götterdämmerung {171} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/13/1951.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 13, 1951


GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG {171}
Wagner-Wagner

Brünnhilde..............Helen Traubel
Siegfried...............Set Svanholm
Gunther.................Paul Schöffler
Gutrune.................Regina Resnik
Hagen...................Dezsö Ernster
Waltraute...............Margaret Harshaw
Alberich................Gerhard Pechner
First Norn..............Jean Madeira
Second Norn.............Margaret Roggero
Third Norn..............Margaret Harshaw
Woglinde................Paula Lenchner
Wellgunde...............Lucine Amara
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.

Review of Robert Sabin in the January 1, 1952 issue of Musical America

Hungry Wagnerians were out in full force for this performance, which was the first taste of Wagner the Metropolitan has offered this season. There was a new Gunther in the cast, Paul Schoeffler; and Paula Lenchner and Margaret Roggero were heard for the first time at the Metropolitan in the roles of Woglinde and of the Second Norn, respectively. Helen Traubel and Set Svanholm made their first appearances of the season in the roles of Brünnhilde and Siegfried. The other artists, in familiar roles, were Regina Resnik, as Gutrune; Derso Ernster, as Hagen; Margaret Harshaw, as Waltraute and as the Third Norn; Gerhard Pechner, as Alberich; Lucine Amara, as Wellgunde; Herta Glaz, as Flosshilde; Jean Madeira, as the First Norn; and Emery Darcy and Osie Hawkins as Two Vassals.

Fritz Stiedry conducted a prevailingly eloquent, though technically uneven, performance. He brought tenderness, majesty and mystery to the music; and nothing was finer than the playing of the final pages. In view of this comprehension of the spirit of "Götterdämmerung" one was willing to discount the mishap in the brasses, the occasional awkwardnesses of staging and lighting and the other distracting factors that revealed a need for further rehearsals of the mighty work.

Mr. Schoeffier sang the role of Gunther with splendid security, but he was dramatically rather stolid, especially in the second act. Herbert Graf should inject more intensity and detailed characterization into the staging. Gunther should be more constantly aware of Brünnhilde; he should not be sent to mope in a corner so constantly. In the third act, however, Mr. Schoeffler's innate forcefulness of personality came into play, especially in the scene of Siegfried's assassination.

Miss Traubel's glorious voice sounded fresh and she gave a vigorous performance. She made more of the rape of the ring in Act I, Scene 2, than she used to, and her entrance in the last scene was unusually majestic. Some of the top phrases caused her trouble and she used half voice in some places in the immolation scene where one wanted full voice, but as a whole her singing was bold and vital.

Mr. Svanholm also sang with notable elan. It is always good to hear a Siegfried who can actually sing the intricacies of the colloquy with the Rhine Maidens in Act III, Scene 1, and of the narrative of Gunther, Hagen, and the Vassals. Mr. Svanholm's voice was in good condition, although not quite so free and rich in quality as it was in last year's performances of the "Ring." He should cut down his stage business when he greets the Vassals in the hunting scene; after all Siegfried is not a Rotarian. But there were many fine and imaginative touches in his performance.

Mr. Ernster's Hagen is one of his best roles. It is a striking conception, not the subtlest imaginable, but absolutely sure in its grasp of the dramatic high points. His singing was imposing in the summoning of the Vassals. In other places the tone was unfocussed and the pitch imperfect. Yet he sang the difficult trills and some of the other most taxing passages with real bravura.

Miss Harshaw gave the best performance as Waltraute that I have ever heard from her. The role suits neither her voice nor her temperament, but she imbued the narrative with dramatic suspense and considerable vocal color. Miss Resnik, also, was miscast vocally as Gutrune, but she made much of her dramatic opportunities, especially in Act III, Scene 2. Miss Lenchner sang the role of Woglinde very well. Miss Roggero, however, was too light of voice for the Second Norn; she had, however, obviously worked hard on her German diction. The other two Norns should be more distinct, for their lines are crucial to the unfolding of the drama and the elucidation of the music.

The chorus was superb. Mr. Stiedry, obtained towering climaxes and a dramatic nuance from the men that surpassed even last year's performances of Act II. Siegfried's death music was notably intoned by the orchestra. All in all, it was a moving performance.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).