[Met Performance] CID:32010
New production
Die Walküre {96} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/25/1903.

(Debuts: Ernst Kraus, Olive Fremstad, Lillian Heidelbach, Johanna Pöhlmann, Paula Ralph, Josephine Jacoby, Marcia Van Dresser, Felix Mottl, Anton Fuchs, Max Brückner, Obronsky, Impekoven & Co.

Metropolitan Opera House
November 25, 1903
New production


Brünnhilde..............Johanna Gadski
Siegmund................Ernst Kraus [Debut]
Sieglinde...............Olive Fremstad [Debut]
Wotan...................Anton Van Rooy
Fricka..................Louise Homer
Hunding.................Robert Blass
Gerhilde................Lillian Heidelbach [Debut]
Grimgerde...............Johanna Pöhlmann [Debut]
Helmwige................Selma Kört-Kronold
Ortlinde................Paula Ralph [Debut]
Rossweisse..............Josephine Jacoby [Debut]
Schwertleite............Louise Homer
Siegrune................Marcia Van Dresser [Debut]
Waltraute...............Isabelle Bouton

Conductor...............Felix Mottl [Debut]

Director................Anton Fuchs [Debut]
Set Designer............Max Brückner [Debut]
Set Designer............Obronsky, Impekoven & Co. [Debut]

Die Walküre received nine performances this season.

[Company records suggest Brückner designed the set for Act II.]

Review of W. J. Henderson in The New York Times


Herr Mottl Appears for the First Time Here as Conductor

Notable Performance of the Opera - The work of Mme. Fremstad, Mme. Gadski, Mr. Kraus, and Others

Though "Die Walküre" has the name of the most popular of all the dramas of Wagner's "Nibelung" cycle, it has rarely proved a powerful attraction at the Metropolitan Opera House. Mr. Conried repeated the experience of his predecessor last evening, when, at the second night of the opera season, "Die Walküre" was given to an audience that could by no means be called small, yet was far from filling either the orchestra or the galleries. It was, however, an occasion important to all who have an interest in knowing what the season is going to bring forth, for it presented to this public for the first time some of those who will most significantly contribute to its success.

Mr. Mottl appeared for the first time in this country as the conductor: Mr. Kraus came back after several years' absence to impersonate Siegmund; Mine. Olive Fremstad, who left this country some years ago as a singer of minor roles, returns as a mature artist of remarkable powers as one, in fact, who is likely to be an important figure in the season now under way. In addition to this, Mme. Gadski made her first appearance here in the rôle of Brünnhilde, and thereby attained the rank and proved her right to it to which she has been steadily ascending since she first presented herself at the Opera House in Mr. Damrosch's company, and Mme. Homer took for the first time the part of Fricka.

The performance was in many ways a notable one. It was inspired and stimulated by the potent and masterful sway of Mr. Mottl, who infused the pulsation of life and dramatic energy into the movement of the drama; making the music eloquent and causing the orchestra to speak with an infinitude of expression. His reading of the work was drawn on large and broad lines, and yet was filled with significant detail. Enough was seen and heard of his work last night to realize the foundation that bases his great repute.

Mr. Kraus was in many respects a highly satisfactory representative of the hero. He is a better singer than when he last appeared in this country. His voice is in better condition, and his art has ripened. His worst fault is the constriction of his tones when he sings them out in full volume. It is frequently in evidence, and offends the ear with the hard and brazen quality thereby produced, but his softer tones are beautiful, and he knows how to manage them with great expressiveness. His phrasing is far better than we have learned to expect from tenors of his kind of the German school, and some of his passages he delivered with admirably modulated and expressive accent--such were his recital of his woeful history in the first act, and his responses to Brünhilde in the second.

Mme. Fremstad's performance was a delight with small alloy. Her accomplishment as both a singer and an actress, the power and depth of her art, were such as to fill the lovers of the German works in which she is to appear with present satisfaction and jubilant expectation. Her voice is of extraordinarily beautiful quality and large range, in the lower notes, particularly, of the richest contralto coloring, and its freedom and flexibility, the volume with which she poured it out, the nobility and broad sweep of her phrasing, showed in her the true artist-the artist who comprehends the essence and the significance of Wagner's musical style.

Of Mme. Gadski's Brünnhilde there are words of sincerest admiration to be spoken. It is not an impersonation of the final authority and compelling power of the greatest Brünnhildes that we have had here. But it was a splendid achievement and one that will raise Mme. Gadski's place among the great artists, which is already hers to a level higher than she has ever yet reached. It was full of superb vigor of life and impulsive energy, of statuesque dignity and thrilling solemnity, as in her scene with Siegmund when she announces to him his impending death, and of tenderness and passion as in her leave taking of Wotan. Never for a moment did it fall into conventional ruts, and her voice seemed fuller, richer, more resonant, and more perfectly at her command than ever before.

Time permits of no more than a mention of Mme. Homer's admirable performance of the none too grateful part of Fricka in the single scene with Wotan at the beginning of the second act, carefully studied and well sung, or of the well-known impersonation of Mr. Van Rooy as Wotan-one of the most familiar figures now to be seen at the Opera House, yet showing in some of its aspects last evening, notably in the last scene with Brünnhilde, greater depths of pathos and tenderness than has sometimes been the case.

A number of the singers who have had a brief period of study in Mr. Conried's school of opera made their first appearances as the heroic daughters of Wotan-Misses Heidelbach, Ralph, Bouton, Van Dresser, Poehlmann, and Jacoby, and Mme. Selma Kronold returned to opera in New York from opera in England as a member of the same band. Their singing was not, however, in any remarkable respect an improvement upon their predecessors in tile same task.

There was much anticipation as to the improvements promised in the stage setting and scenic effects. All was new; but it cannot truly be said that there was any new revelation in beauty or appropriateness. Hunding's hut is now more nearly weather-proof than it used to be, but the play of the light when the door blows open -and it is still almost the whole side of the hut that opens-is inconsistently managed, with a strange mixture of pale moonbeams and yellow rays; the sword hilt in the tree still glows from incandescent bulbs within, rather than by the flickering light from the hearth.

The rock height upon which the second act takes place is a well-painted and well-massed scene, with a better feeling for landscape effect and harmony of color than that of former years; but it is not of remarkable excellence. The fight between Siegmund and Hunding is carried on in such dense obscuration behind the cloud curtain that it is scarcely visible. Nor is the Walküre's rock in the third act more than reasonably good.

The fiery barrier erected by Loge is chiefly a thick curtain of red-illumined steam, with some emanations of sparks; the steam, however, is not sufficiently illumined in all its parts to give the expected effect. There is much that might be done with the scene that never yet has been compassed. Some of the things that were effected last night in this department of the stage setting are so easily susceptible of improvement that it is only fair to wait for what great experience with a new and complicated mechanism will bring forth.

Photograph of Olive Fremstad as Sieglinde by Aimé Dupont.
Photograph of Johanna Gadski as Brünnhilde by Aimé Dupont.
Photograph of Felix Mottl by Aimé Dupont.

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