[Met Performance] CID:186780
Tannhäuser {382} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/10/1961.

(Review)



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
January 10, 1961


TANNHÄUSER {382}

Tannhäuser..............Hans Hopf
Elisabeth...............Leonie Rysanek
Wolfram.................Hermann Prey
Venus...................Margaret Harshaw
Hermann.................William Wilderman
Walther.................Robert Nagy
Heinrich................Paul Franke
Biterolf................Marko Rothmüller
Reinmar.................Norman Scott
Shepherd................Mildred Allen
Page....................Ethel Greene
Page....................Pamela Munson
Page....................Meredith Parsons
Page....................Nancy Reep
Dance...................Pina Bausch
Dance...................Audrey Keane
Dance...................Carole Kroon

Conductor...............Georg Solti

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Bulletin

'Tannhäuser' Admirably Performed by Met Opera

Richard Wagner's "Tannhäuser," not heard here since April 6, 1954, reappeared last night at the Academy of Music in all the pomp and panoply of heraldic color and in all the mysticism of its religious fervor. The Metropolitan Opera Association did the city a service, for this will be Philadelphia's only Wagnerian performance of the present season. For the starved Wagnerite, it is superfluous to add that last night was a pleasure.

All the more so, as the Metropolitan brought us a brilliant conductor, Georg Solti heard with the Philadelphia Orchestra last season, made his local debut with the Metropolitan last night and proved himself an exciting and masterly musician. Mr. Solti was ever vigilant of all possibilities concerning Wagner's early opera. The result was a performance that generated cumulative excitement as it progressed.

The cast that Rudolf Bing brought over was a joy. Leonie Rysanek made an impetuous and graceful Elisabeth of soaring tones. A vision of beauty she seemed particularly suited to this deceptively difficult role. In the title role, Hans Hopf gave a consistently dramatic performance. His large rich voice was at all times effective, particularly in the last act Rome narrative. Mr. Hopf probably presented this role as well as it could be presented today.

An interesting debut was that of Hermann Prey, a young baritone who had appeared as an exchange student in a youth concert of the Philadelphia orchestra in 1952. In the interim, Mr. Prey has built up a very promising career in Germany. The reasons for this are not hard to see. Tall and handsome, the young singer possesses a smooth lyric baritone which is employed with a consistently sensitive line. His singing was more artistic, reaching its culmination in a hushed evocation of the famous "Evening Star."

Excellent also was the Junoesque Venus of Margaret Harshaw, who returned here in excellent voice. Her handsome goddess proved vocally seductive. Others in the cast were William Wildermann, a dignified and resonant Landgraf, and Mildred Allen, who sang the Shepherd Song very beautifully. The staging of Dino Yannopolous and the sets and costumes of Rolf Gerard have been seen here before. They were again admired last night.

It was a pity that a hitch in the Academy backstage technique dictated a pause not generally witnessed between the first two scenes. The choreography by Anthony Tudor seemed pretty but entirely conventional. The chorus sang strongly, though with some coarse tones in the final scene. Forgetting these blemishes, which is not a difficult matter, one can endorse last night's "Tannhäuser" as one of the musical peaks of the current season.



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