[Met Performance] CID:240890
Götterdämmerung {196}
Ring Cycle [85]
Metropolitan Opera House: 03/21/1975.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 21, 1975


GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG {196}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [85]
Wagner-Wagner

Brünnhilde..............Berit Lindholm
Siegfried...............Jess Thomas
Gunther.................Donald McIntyre
Gutrune.................Nell Rankin
Hagen...................John Macurdy
Waltraute...............Anna Reynolds
Alberich................Marius Rintzler
First Norn..............Lili Chookasian
Second Norn.............Anna Reynolds
Third Norn..............Nell Rankin
Woglinde................Christine Weidinger
Wellgunde...............Marcia Baldwin
Flosshilde..............Batyah Godfrey Ben-David

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

Director................Herbert Von Karajan
Staged by...............Wolfgang Weber
Set designer............Günther Schneider-Siemssen
Costume designer........George Wakhevitch

Götterdämmerung received three performances this season.




Review of William Zackariasen in the Westsider



With the first seasonal performance of "Gotterdammerung" last Friday, the first integral presentation of Wagner's "Ring des Nibelungen" , at the Met Opera in 13 years has been staged. At this publication, the last "Rheingold" and "Siegfried" will have been given, but there are still performances of "Walkure" and "Gotterdammerung" coming up - the latter featuring Birgit Nilsson in what is conceivably her greatest role. If you can't get into the performance Saturday, you can hear it broadcast.

Nilsson essayed a new role (for New York audiences at least) when she appeared in the season's initial "Walkure" Feb. 20 as Sieglinde, replacing the critically ill Leonie Rysanek. It was a notable triumph for her and the music, which probably hasn't been more beautifully sung since Kirsten Flagstad. Dramatically, she may have been previously outpointed in my experience by Rysanek for hysteria, Crespin for warmth, and Varnay for authority, but in vocalism and overall realization of the character she needed defer to no one. Indeed, her second-act hallucination scene was a "Gesamtkunstwerk" of the highest order.

Thomas Stewart sang an amazingly improved Wotan, and Mignon Dunn (Fricka) seems these days to be our paramount Wagnerian mezzo. Jon Vickers was sloppy in note values and rhythm as Siegmund (he was much better in this wise for the broadcast) but he was; as ever; a believable hero. The debutante Brunnhilde: Berit Lindholm; is a young; attractive soprano with a prematurely aged voice which flies all over the place, often nowhere near the notes. The great promise she showed three years ago (in San Francisco, for instance, in the same role) has sadly been unfulfilled.

After his brilliant "Rheingold," conductor Sixten Ehrling led a curiously flaccid "Walkure" Feb. 20, marked by ragged orchestral work. He and the players did much better for the broadcast March 1 in which Nilsson, however, seemed less at ease as Brunnhilde. The voice rang with its customary sureness, but the sound was hard and dry. But Nilsson will be 57 in two months, and her singing remained astounding for a woman theoretically past her prime.

However, Nilsson turned back the clock for the "Siegfried" broadcast March 15, singing near as well as she ever has, and mopping the stage with the strained efforts of Jess Thomas in the title role. Doing "Siegfried" without a Siegfried is
something else, since Brunnhilde doesn't appear until Act III. Thomas tried hard and occasionally managed a nice quiet phrase, but the bulk of his singing was unfocused bellowing which was often drowned out, when not by Nilsson, by spunky character tenor Ragnar Ulfung who delivered a Mime which has already become classic. Donald McIntyre was a Wanderer-Wotan of commanding strength and rolling tones, sounding even better than he did on the "Walkure" broadcast.

Ehrling was much more his better self in "Siegfried," brightly characterizing this, the most varied orchestration in the "Ring." He was particularly successful in the spooky dragon music of Act II, in which he was aided by Herbert Wekselblatt's virtuoso tuba playing. Ehrling was somewhat reticent in Siegfried's big scenes, probably in deference to the singer, and this was the only "Ring" opera presented this season with cuts-maybe for the same reason. The forging and hammer songs were both abridged by half, though this did not excuse the tenor's almost epicene handling of the tools of his trade. One could hardly believe Nothung would be the dauntless sword described in the text, so pussyfooting was Thomas's visual forging of it.





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