[Met Performance] CID:30780
Siegfried {58}
Ring Cycle [24]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/3/1903.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
February 3, 1903

Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [24]

Siegfried...............Alois Burgstaller
Brünnhilde..............Lillian Nordica
Wanderer................Anton Van Rooy
Erda....................Louise Kirkby-Lunn
Mime....................Albert Reiss
Alberich................David Bispham
Fafner..................Johannes Elmblad
Forest Bird.............Fritzi Scheff

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

Review (unsigned) in a Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)


Large Audience Recalls Him Often After Each Appearance.

On Wagner's principle of producing effect by repetition, one-fourth of "Siegfried" is occupied by the narration of circumstances presumably familiar to the dramatis personae and already laboriously communicated to the audience in the prologue and the preceding drama. "Siegfried" itself, indeed, is by way of prologue to the great drama of "Siegfried's Death," whose mythological title is "The Twilight of the Gods." It presents the young life of the hero, impatient of his restraint in the dwarf's cavern, wondering about his origin, longing for great deeds; his forging of the sword, and his going forth into the world, slaying the dragon, gaining the magic ring and awaking the sleeping Valkyr by his kiss.

We may give this what symbolic significance we will, but we really are not concerned with the philosophy of it and the discourses of the Wanderer are only interruptions. In spite of them all and in spite of much other needless reiteration, what interests and charms us is simply young Siegfried, his awakening to life, his pursuit of his ideal, his realization of human passion. Reduced to this one essential current of emotion, there is nothing in all the lyric drama more poetical, more beautiful, more commanding in its musical power and significance than this.

There are various contributory figures, more or less impertinent, but the opera is Siegfried and the orchestra. And never have we heard the young Siegfried presented with finer feeling and never with so much of youthful charm as Burgstaller brings to the part. He is entirely satisfying to the eye, making always an unconscious picture of boyish grace and he plays and sings the part with a fine buoyancy, an unaffected joyousness altogether captivating. His singing of the part has the same deep musical feeling and spontaneous lyric sense that made his Siegmund so remarkable. The song at the forge has been done with a more certain execution, but seldom with as true spirit, and he carried the whole long and exacting part, if not with even suavity, yet with unflagging vitality and a dramatic sentiment that never failed, rising with the increasing requirements of the later scenes to a very splendid musical achievement.

"Siegfried" drew the largest and most brilliant house of the season. It was really the first time this year that the Academy has been actually crowded in all parts and the impression that Burgstaller made on the great audience was unmistakable. He was many times recalled after the first act, and many times more after the second, these individual calls following the usual compliment to the singers in general, and at the end of the audience he shared the enthusiasm with Madame Nordica. This great singer was all herself in that great scene for which we wait so long, but which so well repays the waiting, and the glorious duet was gloriously sung. This is great music, and a fervid musical performance like this will linger in the memory.

The most conspicuous of the secondary characters in "Siegfried" is Mime, of whom Reiss makes an extraordinary piece of eccentric characterization, singing the part with a witty expression of cringing falsehood that is most admirable. Bispham's fine Alberich is seen but for a few minutes, and Wotan is particularly tedious at this stage, Van Rooy's best opportunity being in the scene with Erda and the short scene following with Siegfried. Mr. Elmblad made some very wonderful noises on behalf of Fafner, but the dragon, mechanically, was unusually successful. So much cannot be said for the forest bird, but a hat, which flew about freely and silently, gave a more realistic effect. These things are trivial, but the symbolic details are so much insisted on that they cannot be neglected.

The real thing, even before the tenor and much before everybody else, is the orchestra, and Hertz conducted with a knowledge and certainty, a delicacy and a power - distinguishing every significant phrase and piling up tremendous climaxes - that gave splendid effect to the whole great work. The last part of the trilogy will be heard tomorrow afternoon. Next week, by way of contrast, we are to have a revival of "Ernani."

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