[Met Performance] CID:18050
Tristan und Isolde {30} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/15/1897.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 15, 1897


Tristan.................Jean de Reszke
Isolde..................Félia Litvinne
Kurwenal................David Bispham
Brangäne................Rosa Olitzka
King Marke..............Edouard de Reszke
Melot...................Adolph Von Hübbenet
Shepherd................Mr. Riedel
Steersman...............Lloyd D'Aubigné

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

Director................William Parry

Tristan und Isolde received three performances this season.

Review of W. J. Henderson in The New York Times

Mme. Litvinne Better than Was Anticipated - Jean de Reszke Appeared, Though He Had Been Ill.

There can be no doubt whatever that a great many persons regarded the revival of Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," at the Metropolitan Opera House this season, as a hazardous experiment. There were some doubts whether it would be attempted. However, the music-drama was given last night and an audience of good size listened to it attentively and applauded it enthusiastically. That the performance pleased there can be no doubt, but there is equally no doubt that the pleasure was due as largely to the work itself as to the presentation of it. The time has gone by when people grew angry in disputing the merit or demerit of this wonderful creation of the human intellect. Those who do not enjoy it nowadays are usually angry at themselves or lost in wonder that there is something beyond their artistic grasp. But there is no question of the greatness of "Tristan und Isolde." Even with an indifferent interpretation, it makes its force felt and a performance so good in some of its essentials as that of last night is bound to leave the hearer emotionally wrung out.

The problem before the managers of the Opera House was to supply the place of Mme Nordica. The truth has got to be told about this matter and it must, therefore, be stated at the outset that Mme. Litvinne did not fill the post she occupied and for that reason, more than any other, the performance fell below that of last season in influence. On the other hand, it is only justice to Mme. Litvinne to say that she put to shame the predictions of the musical prophets by being a great deal better Isolde than any one supposed she would be. She displayed a good understanding of the part and her delivery of the recitative, as well as her action, was at least full of excellent intention. Her delivery, however, was marred by all the faults which we used to bear so patiently in those German days immediately following the departure of Lilli Lehmann, but which we do not bear patiently since Nordica showed us that singers trained in the Italian school could sing Isolde if they had brains enough. Her portamento was distressing at times and her strident emission of many of the tones was extremely disagreeable. But on the whole she deserves commendation for the earnestness of her work which, in some places, had considerable declamatory strength, She acquitted herself unexpectedly well in the duet of the second act.

M. Jean de Reszke's Tristan is already sufficiently well known to this public to pass without extended comment. M. de Reszke was sick last night and had, at one time in the course of the day, decided not to sing. An attempt was made to arrange a performance with Paul Kalisch as Tristan, but at 6 o'clock M. de Reszke decided to make the effort. His work was labored at first, but his enthusiasm raised him to the necessary warmth at length and he gave an admirable performance. M. Edouard de Reszke's King Mark was, as it always is, superb in its dignity and breadth. Mr. David Bispham gave a most touching interpretation of KurvenaI and Mlle. Rosa Olitaka was tolerable as Brangäne. Mr. von Hubbenet sang the sailor song very well, indeed. Mr. Seidl conducted, as he always does, like a master and the orchestra played superbly.

The stage management was better than it was last season and the light effects in the second act were especially pleasing. There was a great deal of enthusiasm after this act and the singers and Mr. Seidl were kept busy for a considerable time bowing in acknowledgment of the continued applause.

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