[Met Performance] CID:231590
New Production
Siegfried {222} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/17/1972.

(Debuts: Gustav Neidlinger, Wolfgang Weber

Metropolitan Opera House
November 17, 1972
Benefit sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild
for the production funds
New Production


Siegfried...............Jess Thomas
Brünnhilde..............Birgit Nilsson
Wanderer................Thomas Stewart
Erda....................Lili Chookasian
Mime....................Gerhard Stolze
Alberich................Gustav Neidlinger [Debut]
Fafner..................Hans Sotin
Forest Bird.............Judith Blegen

Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf

Director................Herbert Von Karajan
Stage Director..........Wolfgang Weber [Debut]
Set designer............Günther Schneider-Siemssen
Costume designer........George Wakhevitch

Production a gift of Eastern Airlines

Siegfried received five performances this season.

[Herbert von Karajan did not come to New York for this production. He had directed Siegfried at the 1969 Salzburg Easter Festival, and his staging, with some necessary modifications, was replicated in New York by Wolfgang Weber.]

Review of Byron Belt in the Newhouse Newspapers

'Siegfried" high point in Met stature

The Metropolitan Opera's new production of Richard Wagner's "Ring" Cycle continued in triumph this week with the unveiling of drama three, "Siegfried." Thanks to a generous gift of Eastern Airlines, the physical designs and concept remain those of original conductor-director Herbert von Karajan.

Thanks even more, however, to the vitality, power, sensitivity and sheer genius of conductor Erich Leinsdorf, "Siegfried" will long remain a high point in Met musical stature. Leinsdorf's direction resulted in the most superlative performance the Met orchestra has given in several years, and one of the most intellectual and emotional satisfying events of recent music seasons.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, matched Leinsdorf's magnificent concept and execution, but the entire "Siegfried" was on a distinguished level of achievement that brought glory to the performers, the company and - most important of all - to the genius of Richard Wagner.

"Siegfried" lacks the easy lyricism and drama of "Die 'Walküre," (which Leinsdorf will direct this week); and the consuming splendor of "Die Götterdämmerung." (which does not appear until next season), but it has many rich scenes, and a conclusion of radiant beauty.

The Gunther Schneider-Siemssen neo-Bayreuth sets work effectively in act one, fitfully in the long scene in the forest and gloriously in the final scene. The huge tree that shelters Mime in the [first scene], serves well for the action, and sets an appropriate mood to match the tempestuous music.

Jess Thomas, essaying his first Met performance of the title hero, is as close to ideal as we are likely to get in the near future. In the crucial forging scene, both the voice and dramatic action need more flint, steel and muscle than Thomas can provide, but elsewhere his superb physique, manly bearing and expressive voice create the young Siegfried most imposingly.

In "Siegfried." the god Wotan assumes the guise of The Wanderer, and has many of his human moments of drama and music. Thomas Stewart is a moving, dignified and vocally intense wanderer, whose singing touches the heart of the character and the audience. It is a superb accomplishment, again wanting only a certain ringing power to make it perfect.

Stewart was particularly splendid in the soaring scene with Erda in Act III. That goddess of wisdom and fertility was more tactful than earthy, was sung most beautifully by Lili Chookasian, and the entire dialogue became one of the music drama's authentic highlights.

The two major character roles of Mime and Alberich were in the expert hands of Gerhard Stolze and Gustav Neidlinger. The former recreated his celebrated interpretation that carries the whine to the point of madness most effectively. One is genuinely relieved when Siegfried finally dispatches Mime with one thrust of his sword.

Neidlinger, making his debut, sang with requisite sonority and acted with stilted gestures. Thanks to a voice of great expressiveness and power, the debut marks Neidlinger as a major addition during this crucial year based as it is largely in the regime of the past, with only glints of hope for the future.

Hans Sotin sang Fafner, the giant sleeping in the form of a dragon. The stage business for the battle between Siegfried and Fafner made the dragon into more of a primordial ooze, but we found it most exciting. Sotin's voice was miked (probably) or artificially augmented in some manner, most effectively.

The Forest Bird was sung with more drama than usual by Judith Blegen and the Brünnhilde was Birgit Nilsson. We link them not only to point up that, contrary to the audience response, Miss Nilsson's is scarcely the major role of "Siegfried," but also to note that the great lady was not in best voice. At less than best, however, Birgit Nilsson is an authentic Wagnerian, and she added a final note of glory to the Met's welcome achievement.

Production photos of Siegfried by The Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).