[Met Performance] CID:240770
Die Walküre {422} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/8/1975.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 8, 1975


DIE WALKÜRE {422}

Brünnhilde..............Rita Hunter
Siegmund................Kolbjörn Höiseth [Last performance]
Sieglinde...............Birgit Nilsson
Wotan...................Donald McIntyre
Fricka..................Mignon Dunn
Hunding.................John Macurdy
Gerhilde................Mary Ellen Pracht
Grimgerde...............Joann Grillo
Helmwige................Gloria Hodes
Ortlinde................Carlotta Ordassy
Rossweisse..............Jean Kraft
Schwertleite............Batyah Godfrey Ben-David
Siegrune................Marcia Baldwin
Waltraute...............Cynthia Munzer

Conductor...............Sixten Ehrling

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Post

Hunter and Nilsson in Met 'Walküre'

Kirsten Flagstad and Helen Traubel sang together in only three Metropolitan Opera "Die Walküres," in 1939 and '40, with Miss Flagstad always the Brünnhilde. On Saturday, night at the Met a subscription audience had the first opportunity of hearing a marvelous reverse combination for our time: Birgit Nilsson as Sieglinde and Rita Hunter as Brünnhilde. Justification for the comparison comes from the Traubel-like warmth and vibrato of Miss Hunter's instrument contrasted with the Flagstad-like preeminence and uniqueness of Miss Nilsson in the Wagnerian heavens.

When the British soprano first sang the "Walküre" Brünnhilde at the Met in 1972, her musicality was first rate, but the sound seemed that of an Italian lyric soprano. Her voice and style have expanded, her support has grown and though her volume might still be greater, her young radiant Brünnhilde sustained the notes of the "Death-Announcement Scene" as surely as she flamed with the passion of Act III. Miss Nilsson, in her second Met Sieglinde, let her voice out with matchless results. Never anything but feminine and lyrical and phrasing with genius, she applied all of the power and excitement at her command.

It's dangerous to predict history, but future opera lovers will no doubt hear to their envy of Saturday night's vocal confrontation between Hunter and Nilsson: the heroic naming of Siegfried followed by a stupefying "O Hehrstes Wunder." Here was gold in a world of dross. Sadly, Miss Hunter is only scheduled to sing the "Walküre" Brünnhilde in this "Ring." In England she recorded "Siegfried," and has often sung and, even last year, she sang some moving Met "Götterdämmerungs." One would think that when Miss Nilsson is not singing these roles, Miss Hunter would be.

The performance also saw the first Met Siegmund of Koibjoern Hoiseth, who replaced a sick Jon Vickers. The Swedish tenor displayed a roughish but fresh voice, not secure in the lower register. On top, however, he sang clearly and though there was some effort, he was satisfactory. Evaluation of Hoeiseth must take into consideration that for fifteen years New Yorkers have been spoiled by Vickers' always exceptional Siegmund. If one remembers what those before Vickers and after Melchior did with the part, the young tenor's straightforward, fresh singing can be appreciated. John Macurdy made a particularly sonorous Hunding; his voice seems to be deepening and growing while still keeping its basic attractive quality. Donald McIntyre and Mignon Dunn were the familiar Wotan and Fricka, and Sixten Ehrling the uninspired and maddening conductor.



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