[Met Performance] CID:30720
Die Walküre {91}
Ring Cycle [24]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/29/1903.

(Debut: Alois Burgstaller

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
January 29, 1903

Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [24]

Brünnhilde..............Lillian Nordica
Siegmund................Alois Burgstaller [Debut]
Sieglinde...............Johanna Gadski
Wotan...................Anton Van Rooy
Fricka..................Luise Reuss-Belce
Hunding.................Johannes Elmblad
Gerhilde................Marie Van Cauteren
Helmwige................Camille Seygard
Ortlinde................Mathilde Bauermeister
Rossweisse..............Carrie Bridewell
Schwertleite............Louise Homer
Siegrune................Marguerite Marilly
Waltraute...............Marie Maurer

Conductor...............Alfred Hertz

Review (unsigned) in a Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)



Nordica Also Makes Her First Appearance This Season in a Fine Performance of the First Part of the Niebelungen Trilogy.

The promise of the prologue was well fulfilled in a fine presentation of "Die Walküre," which drew the largest audience of the season to the Academy last night. While the season of opera has been reasonably interesting, it has been quite uneventful and, for the most part, quite unimportant, so that the serious performance of a serious work like the Nibelungen trilogy justly attracts a degree of attention not commanded hitherto, Moreover, "Die Walküre" contains at least one act with more than one other scene that, in well rounded completeness of musical expression, is excelled by nothing in the whole range of the lyric drama. It well deserved the enthusiasm it aroused last night.

This glorious first act was freshly illuminated by the first appearance in America of a young Bavarian tenor, from Bayrenth, who gave to the role of Siegmund a dramatic and musical significance absolutely new here. Burgstaller is a tall, manly fellow of picturesque appearance, who seems to be entirely absorbed in his part and to be giving expression, in attitude and gesture, no less than in voice, to the intensest feeling of his soul. Acting so natural, spontaneous and sincere is rare upon any stage, operatic or other, and he gave to his impersonation of the Wolsung a sympathetic reality that is very rare.

This same impression of deep sincerity is conveyed by his singing. He has the true lyric sense. In pure bet canto, no doubt, he has much to learn, and possibly may never learn it. His fine natural tenor voice, of ample power, is not absolutely smooth. But he is no mere declaimer. He sings - sings with a spontaneous grace of phrasing and significance of tone and with a depth of sentiment and of passionate expression that make every aspect of his delivery musical. Most tenors reserve themselves for the "Spring Song." This man is always singing and never appears to be thinking of the audience. The soliloquy of the sword he made wonderfully interesting and to the long scene of the second act he gave great value by the tenderness of his attitude toward Sieglinde and by the deep emotional expression that he constantly conveyed. He is altogether the most interesting addition that Mr. Grau has made to his forces in a long time.

Madame Gadski sang Sieglinde with the clear voice and the sweet gentleness so often admired, and the whole of the first act moved with uncommon vitality, in spite of the rude Hunding of Elmblad, who was even more absurd than as Fafner. The second act brought Madame Nordica's first appearance this season. No one sings Brünnhilde with her intelligence, dignity and authority. but the voice seemed tired and weak last night, and it did not ring out in the Valkyr's shouts with its former brilliancy. The subsequent scene with. Wotan was nobly sung, as always, and it is a greater privilege to hear Nordica sing it in poor voice than anybody else at her best. Van Rooy's Wotan needs no new praise. He was rather more fierce at times than is remembered of him, but his voice is very splendid, his style broad and clear, and his singing of the "Farewell" was a magnificent climax of an uncommonly satisfying performance.

If it is left to the last to speak of the conductor, it is because he comprehends the whole, and determines the whole, and Hertz conducts this great work with an understanding and authority that lifts it to the very highest plane of musical expression. It is true that some of the very dull passages were mercifully cut - including the worst of them, Fricka's long dissertation upon domestic morals, which is no more suited to musical interpretation than an extract from the Revised Statutes - but this was another evidence of the conductor's judgment and his real appreciation of music so commanding that it separates itself, in spite of the dramatist, from its philosophical entanglements. "Siegfried" and the "Götterdämmerung" follow next week. Burgstaller will sing Siegfried in both, with Nordica as Brünnhilde in the latter.

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