[Met Performance] CID:189050
Lohengrin {512} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/28/1961.

(Debuts: Sándor Kónya, Ingrid Bjoner, Norman Mittelmann, Arnold Kirschberg

Metropolitan Opera House
October 28, 1961


Lohengrin...............Sándor Kónya [Debut]
Elsa....................Ingrid Bjoner [Debut]
Ortrud..................Irene Dalis
Telramund...............Walter Cassel
King Heinrich...........Jerome Hines
Herald..................Norman Mittelmann [Debut]
Noble...................Kurt Kessler
Noble...................Arnold Kirschberg [Debut]
Noble...................Lloyd Strang
Noble...................Carlo Tomanelli

Conductor...............Joseph Rosenstock

Stage Director..........Ralph Herbert
Set designer............Charles Elson

Lohengrin received six performances this season.

Review of Robert Sabin in the December 1961 issue of Musical America

Three singers new to the Metropolitan graced the cast of the season's first "Lohengrin," absent from the repertoire since '58-'59: Sandor Konya, Ingrid Bjőner and Norman Mittelmann. Also new to their roles were Jerome Hines and Irene Dalis; and Joseph Rosenstock conducted the work for the first time there. It was a performance notable for sensitive, lyrical singing. good acting and fluid pacing.

Having heard Mr. Konya in a superb "Lohengrin" at Bayreuth a few seasons ago, I was prepared for the success he made of it here. This Hungarian tenor is a striking stage figure, with a many-hued and flexible voice which he does not try to turn into a bellowing heldentenor. It was characteristic that his most beautiful singing occurred in the most exquisite scene in the opera-in Elsa's bridal chamber. Imposing, in gleaming gold, he commanded the stage at all times without ever overacting,. The Metropolitan is lucky to have him.

Miss Bjőner had those pure and silvery tones that Norway seems to produce in most of her daughters. A bit uneven in production (notably in the louder and higher range), her voice was nonetheless pleasing in quality, and her acting was intelligent and well worked out.

Mr. Mittelmann, a Canadian baritone who has sung both here and in Europe, projected his tones properly, even though his voice was too light for the role of the Herald.

Miss Dalis managed to be both beautiful and baleful, in delightful contrast to those Ortruds who seem to connote sorcery with unwashed hair and messy attire. When she was not forcing her voice, it gleamed with color, but she really should be more careful about her singing in climaxes. There were some very uncomfortable moments at this performance, and Miss Dalis has far too beautiful a voice to risk it needlessly.

Mr. Hines sang expressively and acted with his customary dignity, although the Prayer did not have the tonal splendor one expected. Mr. Cassel was a passionate and troubled Telramund, and used his resources cleverly in this demanding part, which calls for long, stretches of vehement singing. Altogether, this was an eloquent and imaginative performance.

Review of Miles Kastendieck in his monthly roundup of Met performances in the Christian Science Monitor of November 25, 1961

Since its [first] night the Metropolitan Opera has pursued a somewhat noncommittal course. Except for some important debuts nothing exceptional has happened since Puccini's "Girl of the Golden West" proved a revival of consequence. The presence of a Wagnerian opera in the first week of the season offered agreeable variation from the routine repertory and introduced three new singers. Making his debut as Lohengrin, Sandor Konya gave promise of a real heldentenor in the making. His alluring tenor is primarily lyrical at the moment, but he has the power to undertake the heavier Wagnerian roles in time. A noteworthy stage presence helped created illusion. At moments he recalled the younger Melchior. His scene with Elsa in Act III, scene one, achieved a rapport of unusual warmth.

Miss Bjoner's Elsa

As Elsa, Ingrid Bjoner revealed a purity of voice and an innocence in character portrayal quite fitting the role. Her acting surpassed her singing as she created a credible Elsa, capable of enlisting sympathy of the audience in her behalf. While not distinctive, her singing met approval.

The debut of Norman Mittlemann introduced an outstanding king's herald. His resonant baritone made him able to command attention even better than an admirable stage presence. In later performances, Randolph Symonette bowed as Telramund, successfully projecting a commanding baritone and presenting a formidable figure for the role. Still another debut found Ernst Wiemann giving a thoroughly reliable account of the king's role, but no more than solid routine.

Taking over the musical direction of "Lohengrin," Joseph Rosenstock has capitalized on his solid musical background. While he does not fully underline the dramatic aspect of the leitmotifs, his musicianship assures a fresh treatment of the score and sufficient theatrical punctuation to fashion a good performance. Incidentally Irene Dalis achieved distinction while singing her first Ortrud, while later Nell Rankin sang the role with theatrical conviction.

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