[Met Performance] CID:3200
Le Prophète {7} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/22/1884.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 22, 1884
In German


LE PROPHÈTE {7}

Jean of Leyden..........Anton Schott
Berthe..................Marie Schröder-Hanfstängl
Fidès...................Marianne Brandt
Zacharie................Joseph Kögel
Jonas...................Otto Kemlitz
Mathisen................Joseph Miller
Count Oberthal..........Alkuir Blum
Peasant.................Emil Totzech
Peasant.................Joseph Witt
Officer.................Ludwig Wolf
Officer.................Martin Paché
Citizen.................Hermann Weber
Citizen.................Mr. Golding
Dance...................Adèle Zollia
Dance...................Lucia Cormani
Dance...................Isolina Torri

Conductor...............Leopold Damrosch

Unsigned review in The Mail and Express

The Prophet at the Metropolitan

The performance of "The Prophet" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night was calculated to awaken unbounded enthusiasm, not only for the manner of the presentation of the work, but also for the work itself. With repeated hearings this opera grows in effect and impressiveness and it is a matter of considerable doubt whether it should not be placed ahead of all others which Meyerbeer produced. Certainly "The Huguenots" and "L'Africaine" are his only productions which can claim to be equal in merit to "The Prophet." We are strongly inclined to give preeminence to the last named, and we do so while remembering the "Benediction of the Swords" and the love-duet in "The Huguenots," and the finale of the first act, the Indian pageant and the superb introduction to the last act of L'Africaine. Certainly the magnificent chorus in the first act of "The Prophet," when the people as with one inspiration and voice, take up the chant of the Anabaptists is worthy of a place beside the great chorus in Meyerbeer's earlier work. It does not produce the same thrilling effect, because it comes too soon in the opera. People are taken by surprise and consequently it does not tell with full force. Had Meyerbeer reserved it for a later point - say for an outburst of triumph after the scene between
Fides and John of Leyden in the Coronation act - its genuine power would be recognized by all. The Coronation act itself surpasses all of this composer's earlier pageant scenes, and there is passionate and melodious declamation to prove that the composer of the love duet in "The Huguenots" had lost none of his fervor. While there are thus numbers which compare most favorably with the best features of Meyerbeer's earlier works, there is much else in "The Prophet" to hold attention. The characters are strong, brought out in relief one against the other, there are numerous melodies in which the dramatic element is allowed to predominate over brilliancy, and many scenes of stirring power.

Moreover, there is some further justification in giving prominence to "The Prophet" in the fact. that Meyerbeer's contemporaries believe it inferior to its great predecessors. It is usually pretty safe to reverse the judgment of contemporaries in musical matters. Beethoven was deterred from writing a second because his "Fidelio" was treated with contempt; had Wagner not reached an advanced age he would have died while his works were yet scoffed at. Fortunately he lived to give blow for blow. "The Prophet" has the true element of greatness - it becomes more impressive with repeated hearings. And so we feel safe in predicting that as years roll on and the three Anabaptists gradually learn to sing in time, this work will be recognized as Meyerbeer's greatest.

A performance like last night's enables one to fully appreciate this opera; for the presentation at the Metropolitan is complete and harmonious. We have already dwelt upon its merits. The feature which assumes greater magnitude with increasing familiarity is the Fides of Fräulein Brandt. In the Coronation scene she rises to a dramatic height of which a great tragic actress might be proud. Sustained by the strength of her cause and her defiant pride, she yet yields with a mother's tenderness to her son's one token of love. She gives this scene with infinite pathos, and few can gaze without being deeply moved upon this picture of motherly devotion and sacrifice.



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