[Met Performance] CID:25070
Der Fliegende Holländer {18} San Francisco, California: 11/16/1900.


San Francisco, California
November 16, 1900


Dutchman................David Bispham
Senta...................Johanna Gadski
Erik....................Andreas Dippel
Daland..................Robert Blass
Mary....................Rosa Olitzka
Steersman...............Jacques Bars

Conductor...............Walter Damrosch

Director................Paul Schumann

Der Fliegende Holländer received three performances this season.

Review of Blanche Partington in the San Francisco Call


Mme. Gadski Divides the Honors with Damrosch

A very fair house, considering the comparative popularity of the opera given and the stormy weather, was that which greeted the Grau people last night in "The Flying Dutchman" for, in California, we do not yet know enough to go out when it rains - the educational opportunities being only meager - but Grau and all his angels could not outweigh the fear of a splashing into an impromptu puddle or a dainty rivulet down the neck with some folks. Still many gaily attired dames and maidens and much crush-hatted masculinity braved the storm and, as I said before, the house might have been worse. But not much. I hear encouraging news of the "Lohengrin" house this evening - that it is almost sold out already - to balance things a little. 'Lohengrin" is always a strong favorite here and has, perforce, the most eminent cast for its interpretation that one is likely to hear in a lifetime, including as it does Nordica, Schumann-Heink, Van Dyck, Bispham, Muhlmann and Ed. De Reszke.

Storm without and storm within, it was last evening. It was strange to leave the streaming streets, busy with the splash and hum and purl of heavy rain, and step into the strenuous and stormy atmosphere of the "Dutchman" overture. It is a great epic of the elements, dominated as always by the ominous and noble theme which is the herald and symbol of "Die Fliegende Hollander." As descriptive music pure and simple, one must look far to find its like. It has the shudder of the storm which is big with the secret of the doomed wanderer. The screaming winds shriek it, it whistles through the ship's rigging; the great diapason of the waves booms out the weird history, and how wonderfully it is all told by the orchestra! The overture aroused an immediate enthusiasm, and the applause all through was spontaneous and abundant.

Madam Gadski sang the difficult and not altogether graceful part of Senta. She was not in quite so wonderful voice as on the "Tannhäuser" evening, but her conception of the romantic, dreaming maiden, who is possessed of a strange love for the Hollander, who is but a myth or a fear to her youthful companions, is full of poetry and tenderness. As she sings the Dutchman theme, of which she is somewhat psychically conscious, with wide-open eyes that see naught, or strange things, there is a really, truly uncanny thrill, and when the Dutchman appears her shriek and after-silence, long held, smartly keeps up the shuddery illusion. It is truly an excellent interpretation.

Mr. Bispham was most enthusiastically received last evening in his part of Der Hollander. He paints a noble picture of the unhappy captain, grand, gloomy, eternally wandering, and his big, rather unwieldy barytone does excellent service in its musical interpretation. He was off key occasionally in the first scene, but found his bearing speedily and gave no further offense on that score.

M. Dippel was a most pleasing revelation as Erik. He has a light, honeyed tenor, very flexible and of sympathetic and pleasing quality. He sings with heart and soul and everything that in him is, and has a very comfortable dramatic sense. Further, he is graceful in movement and looks the part with picturesque success. In his duet with Senta, M. Dippel created no small sensation, and his next appearance will be looked forward to with much pleasure. Mme. Olitzka sang the part of Mary in a sweet and sufficient fashion, and the good bass of Mr. Blass was heard to advantage in the part of Daland. Mr. Bars undertook the Steuremann's part in competent fashion.

There is not a great show for the chorus in the opera. The charming "spinning chorus" was beautifully given, however, and the fine male chorus in the first act, well heard. The orchestra has the lead and dominance almost all through this opera by sheer force of its beauty of theme, harmony and orchestration; it is almost a "symphony with words." I think it must be very nice to play on an orchestra, on such an orchestra, and such music, isn't it Mr. Damrosch? And how very well you play! The clever conductor had to respond to an imperious demand for his appearance on the platform after the second act, and his work was distinguished throughout by all it usual excellence.

The mechanical accessories were especially good, scenery and the rest of it, but I do wish Mr. Bispham would get another portrait of himself painted. It needs even more than the average imagination required by grand opera generally to twist the sable gentleman over the door into Mr. Bispham's handsome likeness, and the famous scene of his entrance loses shock therefore - after that - now!

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).