[Met Performance] CID:27890
Lohengrin {184} San Francisco, California: 11/11/1901.


San Francisco, California
Grand Opera House
November 11, 1901


Lohengrin...............Ernest Van Dyck
Elsa....................Emma Eames
Ortrud..................Ernestine Schumann-Heink
Telramund...............David Bispham
King Heinrich...........Edouard de Reszke
Herald..................Adolph Mühlmann

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

Review of Blanche Partington in the San Fransisco Call



'Lohengrin' Serves as Happy Medium for the Introduction of New Stars as Some Former Favorites, Van Dyck, Schumann-Heink, De Reszke and Bispham Receive Prompt Recognition

Certainly Mr. Grau has no reason to complain of the welcome San Francisco has given to his singers this season so far, The Grand Opera-house was a sight of sights last night. Not a vacant seat anywhere to be seen, but a flashing, glittering, colorful, cheerful crowd of folk, there to give worthy welcome to the best the world can offer in the operatic line. It was an enthusiastic house - enthusiastic for the singers, for the opera, for the orchestra and above all for Walter Damrosch, who was called twice before the footlights to acknowledge the prolonged applause. Gracious also was the greeting to Mme. Emma Eames, who made her first appearance here as Elsa, for the opera was "Lohengrin," and to all the favorites of last year - Van Dyck, Schumann-Heink, De Reszke and Bispham, who never sang better than they did last night. It was a house determined to be enthusiastic, and the keynote of appreciation for the grand opera. has been struck for the year. There will be no necessity this season for the critic to insist seven times a week that Mr. Grau has something that is worth hearing down at the Grand Opera-house. The public settled the question for themselves last night and the opera's the thing.

I have heard better beginnings than the [first] act of "Lohengrin" last night, the general unrest and excitement of the occasion seeming rather to communicate itself to the singers, or rather to prevent the needed "atmosphere" from making itself as quickly felt as usual.

But the performance rose to a magnificent level in the second act, and the love scene in the third act was adorably beautiful. The chief interest of the evening naturally centered in the appearance of Mme. Emma Eames, third of the great Elsas who have been heard here, her rivals of last year, Nordica the brilliant and the lovely Gadski. Eames is neither one nor the other, but herself wholly. She has a voice that reminds of Melba's pure as a pearl - and as cold, I was tempted to believe in the beginning or the evening. But later the singer warmed to her work, and it was indeed a beautiful maiden of Brabant that sang her song of love and doubt to Lohengrin in the bridal chamber.

Mme. Eames' voice is almost as pure as the crystalline pure voice of Melba, and true and fine as a bird's note. She sings, with a cool and delicate art that delights even more in the memory than in its first hearing and acts in a gracious, graceful fashion. She is a beautiful woman, eminently graceful in movement and her costumes, designed by her husband, Julian Story, are garments set to music.

Van Dyck, usually a little cold as he first comes upon the stage, last night immediately gripped his audience. His Lohengrin of last year is well remembered, every note of it, but he can do and is doing better work this year. His voice is in excellent shape, clear, noble, round, as we have before known it and his virile acting of the part reminds anew that he is one of the very few great singers who can act as well as sing. He looks the Silver Knight so royally, too, like one of the quaint young dreams that flew away when the fairies vanished out of one's life, since when the world has never seemed quite the same place, Altogether Van Dyck is one of the most satisfying and brilliant figures of the season.

Another who satisfies completely is that luscious, vital singer, Schumann-Heink, whose Ortrud is a magnificently impassioned effort. All through the long first scene she stands silent, every line of her figure breathing her mimic hatred for the maid at Brabant, helpless seeming, before her. Then come the few wonderful, glowing notes at the end, and with them a splash of warm gold through the web of sound of orchestra and chorus are weaving. Schumann-Heink's voice just "hits you where you live" - to put the feeling into prose; it is so full of richness, life, warmth. She is a compelling creature; one must look at her, feel with her, follow her all the time she is on the stage and miss her when she goes.

Ortrud is her best part, so far as I know her repertoire, but one could hear it every night in the week and still wait breathlessly for those thrilling, warm-blooded notes of hers. Schumann-Heink has a new gown, too, in the wedding scene, second act, and I don't like it. Against the pearly-grace of Mr. Story's designs the somewhat garish splendor of Ortrud's festal gown comes off badly. It is a ridiculously small matter, of course, but such things do count in the picture.

De Reszke was the king of the evening. His voice also is as noble as ever and his splendid figure adds a royal grace to the picture.

Bispham's Telramund was quite up to his conception of last year, his acting as careful and distinguished and his vibrant voice as well and dramatically used, Mr. Muhlmann was the herald to admiration, and the orchestra and chorus was amply satisfying. Tonight "Les Huguenots," with an all-star cast, will be given, and we are thus fairly and gloriously launched into the grand opera season.

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