[Met Performance] CID:159540
Parsifal {184} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 04/8/1952.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 8, 1952


PARSIFAL {184}

Parsifal................Hans Hopf
Kundry..................Margaret Harshaw
Amfortas................Paul Sch÷ffler
Gurnemanz...............Dezs÷ Ernster
Klingsor................Alois Pernerstorfer [Last performance]
Titurel.................Luben Vichey
Voice...................Jean Madeira
First Esquire...........Genevieve Warner
Second Esquire..........Mildred Miller
Third Esquire...........Paul Franke
Fourth Esquire..........Gabor Carelli
First Knight............Emery Darcy
Second Knight...........Osie Hawkins
Flower Maidens: Lucine Amara, Lois Hunt, Hertha Glaz,
Anne Bollinger, Paula Lenchner, Margaret Roggero

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


Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

'Parsifal' Concludes 'Met' Season

Richard Wagner's "Parsifal," not heard here since March 23, 1948, was presented by the Metropolitan Opera Association last night, as its final performance at the Academy of Music this season. The Academy was sold out for the event, as a presentation of "Parsifal" is indeed an event and not just another performance. Four and a half hours were employed in the unfoldment. All of the principal singers were new in their parts here, and Fritz Stiedry was the conductor, as he was in 1948.
Herbert Graf, the stage director, has a problem on his hands with a Philadelphia "Parsifal," as the Metropolitan insists on using scenery here which probably saw the Kundry of Olive Fremstad, and even possibly of Milka Ternina.

Sets Recall Past Era

These scenes, about 40 years old, were exact copies of the original Bayreuth sets of 1883, and if anyone was interested in how an opera was mounted at the turn of the century or before, his curiosity would have been gratified last night. Oddly enough, these sets, though woefully shabby, are quite pretty, but they are totally at odds with ideas of up-to-date staging. There was back-stage pounding during the music, which connects change of scenes, and other unfortunate features arising from archaic facilities, but, somehow, despite everything militating against it, the performance emerged as a thoroughly engrossing and impressive experience. This was due to Wagner's inspired music, which needs no comment here; to Fritz Stiedry's illuminating conducting, and to the fine work of many in the large cast.

New Tenor Bows

There was a new tenor, Hans Hopf, singing Parsifal. Mr. Hopf is a careful and intelligent artist with an excellent and steady voice, as Wagnerian tenors go. He made the desired contrast between the guileless fool of the early scenes and the stainless hero of the later ones. He was perhaps more serious than really spiritual, but this latter is a quality than can only be captured by a very few. Deszo Ernster was a magnificent Gurnemanz, making his long scenes unusually interesting, as he filled then with a rich humanity. His voice, with its fine deep register, was in admirable condition. Margaret Harshaw sang Kundry for the first time on any stage and gave a remarkably promising account of one of the most elusive and complex roles in the repertoire.

Admirable Vocal Attack

Miss Harshaw, a Rubenesque figure in the Temptation scene, sang with great purity and steadiness of tone. Her vocal attack was admirably clean, and the long kiss was achieved with unusual realism. Miss Harshaw didn't dodge any of the difficult high notes. Paul Schoeffler's noble voice sounded well in the music of Amfortas, but he didn't suggest much physical suffering, which made his impersonation more colorless and routine than it need have been. Alois Pernestorfer was a Klingsor of sardonic, bitter laughter and incisive diction, and the Flower Maidens, headed by Anne Bollinger, Lucine Amara and Paula Lenchner were unusually convincing and expressive. However, admirable as all these efforts were in their contribution to a spirit which triumphed over physical shortcomings, it was Richard Wagner who emerged as the hero of a rewarding evening.



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