[Met Performance] CID:23430
Das Rheingold {25}
Ring Cycle [14] Uncut
. Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/6/1900.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
February 6, 1900


DAS RHEINGOLD {25}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [14] Uncut
Wagner-Wagner

Wotan...................Anton Van Rooy
Fricka..................Marie Brema
Alberich................Fritz Friedrichs
Loge....................Ernest Van Dyck
Erda....................Ernestine Schumann-Heink
Fasolt..................Adolph Mühlmann
Fafner..................Lempriere Pringle
Freia...................Susan Strong
Froh....................Andreas Dippel
Donner..................Herman Devries
Mime....................Hans Breuer
Woglinde................Olga Pevny
Wellgunde...............Rosa Olitzka
Flosshilde..............Ernestine Schumann-Heink

Conductor...............Emil Paur

Director................Pierre Baudu

Das Rheingold received three performances this season.


Unsigned reviews in the Philadelphia Inquirer

'DAS RHEINGOLD'

The Presentation of Wagner's Tetralogy Impressively Begun at the Academy Last Evening

The promised presentation of Wagner's Tetralogy by the Metropolitan Opera Company under the direction of Emil Paur, was begun at the Academy of Music last evening with a splendidly complete and deeply impressive performance of "Das Rheingold," which is a work in the nature of a prologue to the three music dramas constituting what is known as the trilogy. It is probable that the prospect of an unabridged production of the Wagnerian cycle had been looked forward to by some persons who are not quite sure of the extent of their appreciative capacity, with feelings of misgiving if not of actual apprehension. We have had the Tetralogy in Philadelphia before. It was given in April 1889, under the direction of Mr. Anton Seidl, and those of us who assisted on that occasion derived much instruction and entertainment from the experience.

But the Tetralogy at that time was not presented in its entirety. It was given with the cuts by means of which it is customary to lighten the burden of the Wagnerian prolixity for the benefit of those who are weak in the faith of whose education in the Bayreuth cult was begun at too late a date in their musical experience to be proof against every trial. This time the promise is that the Tetralogy is to be given - it is almost incredible - without any cuts, just as they do it upon those sacrosanct recurring occasions in the one and only Bayreuth, and only the successfully matured or the rashly confident could have awaited the issue with a serene and cheerful confidence. After the experience of last evening those timid souls who had their fears will feel less apprehensive and more encouraged.

It is true that the performance of "The Rheingold," which is a very short and relatively frivolous section of the cycle, does not furnish a fair test of one's capacity not only to endure but to enjoy the three more extensive and weighty music dramas which are to come; but the extraordinary impressiveness of last night's performance is full of hopeful augury. The curtain rose promptly at half-past 8, and the performance continued without interruption until 11, but it was followed by the large audience present without any signs of weariness and with an interest so keen and tense that the disposition to applaud was instinctively restrained. It is only by a presentation on the highest level of excellence in every respect that such a result can be attained, and the representation seen last evening was indeed in its completeness, in its energy, in its intelligence, in its absolute adequacy, in all the elements which render a performance great, something quite out of the common, something such as one seldom has an opportunity to enjoy, and which it must always be pleasant to remember.

The cast was one of even and always satisfying efficiency but its salient feature was unquestionably the Alberich of Mr. Fredrichs, the famous German baritone, who made his Philadelphia debut so successfully a few days ago as Beckmesser in "The Meistersinger." His Alberich was a remarkable performance alike from a vocal and from a dramatic point of view. He expressed the passion of the character, its sordid covetousness, the cruelty of Alberich and the malignant indiscriminate hatred by which he is animated and possessed with the most thrilling intensity, while there was a veritably terror-inspiring accent in the tones with which he voiced his protest against the wrong to which Wotan had subjected him and declared that his curse should follow the violence which he had suffered. It is seldom, indeed, that acting, such as this illuminated and enforced by singing so eloquent and graphic, illustrates upon the lyric stage the possibilities which Wagner sought to realize.

There was no lack of dignity and vigor in the Wotan of Van Rooy, and the Loge of Van Dyck was well conceived and brightly, vividly, consistently executed. The characters of Fricka and Freia were convincingly and agreeably sustained by Marie Brema and Susan Strong respectively, and Mme. Schumann-Heink, besides sustaining the part of Erda, lent the support of her noble voice and strongly dramatic methods to the trio of the Rhine Daughters, in association with Olga Pevny and Olitzka. The smaller male roles were in the hands of Hermann Devries, Dippel, Breuer, Muhlmann and Pringle.

A very important feature of the performance, and one which formed as large a part as any other of its success, was the masterly playing of the orchestral score under Mr. Paur's sympathetic and vigilant direction. The wonderful accompaniments as rendered acquired a new significance, and an often unsuspected beauty. The opera was effectively mounted, and the difficult scene at the bottom of the Rhine was rendered with a smoothness which bespoke the most careful preparation. Altogether it was a most notable and excellent performance, and the coming of what is further promised will be awaited with an added zest.




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