[Met Performance] CID:32080
New production
Tannhäuser {125} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/4/1903.

(Debut: Ernesta Delsarta

Metropolitan Opera House
December 4, 1903
New production


Tannhäuser..............Ernst Kraus
Elisabeth...............Milka Ternina
Wolfram.................Anton Van Rooy
Venus...................Olive Fremstad
Hermann.................Pol Plançon
Walther.................Jacques Bars
Heinrich................Albert Reiss
Biterolf................Adolph Mühlmann
Reinmar.................Eugène Dufriche
Shepherd................Ernesta Delsarta [Debut]

Conductor...............Felix Mottl

Director................Anton Fuchs
Set Designer............Max Brückner
Costume Designer........Baruch & Co.

Tannhäuser received eight performances this season.

[Brückner designed the sets only for Acts I and III.]

Review of Gustav Kobbe in the Morning Telegraph

Herr Mottl, Herr Fuchs and Kraus, Ternina and Fremstad, Give An Almost Perfect Performance of the Opera

The performance of "Tannhäuser" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night was the most complete that has been given in this country. I have not hesitated to point out deficiencies in Herr Fuchs' stage management of "Die Walküre," but for the staging of "Tannhäuser" he deserves high praise.

In view of the completeness of the representation in its vocal, scenic and mechanical details, it seems almost like cavilling to dwell on minor defects.

The so-called "Paris version" of the Venusburg scene, composed for the unhappy Paris premier, was given, and all the allegorical groups and figures called for in the score - the Rape of Europa, The Flight of Cupids, Leda and the Swan - were introduced - I might say religiously introduced. For it can only be a mistaken reverence for Wagner's stage directions that keeps these semi-mechanical creations on the stage.

Mar Rather Than Make the Scene

To me they mar rather than make the scene, but so long as they are to be presented they should be made as little ridiculous as possible - and that was done last night. I myself believe that the best results in Wagner opera can be obtained by a stage management that will absolutely disregard all tradition and begin anew.

Wagner was wonderful for his day, but there has been a vast improvement in the art of stage production since then.

There was some admirable new scenery, but the grotto shown toward the end of the [first] scene was too garish, a fault that more subdued lighting would remedy.

The chorus had been carefully drilled in the stage business. The Pilgrims did not walk stolidly past the Shepherd when he wished the Godspeed on their way to Rome, but acknowledged his saintliness. Where the Landgrave, "assisted" by Elisabeth, as the society reporters would say, received the Thurungians at the Wartburg, many new details were introduced into the action, society was made more lifelike.

Kraus Not Very Unusual

The above were the novel features of the evening, for Kraus, the Tannhäuser, was neither better nor worse than some of his eminent predecessors in the role. He does not make up as well as for Siegmund. In fact, to be frank, he is a rather bourgeois-looking Minnisinger.

Miss Fremstad, as Venus, charmed the eye and sang dramatically. An ordinary mortal would have lingered with her, but Tannhäuser probably knew that Ternina was Elisabeth and wanted to hear her sing her entrance aria in the second act. So he left.

Mme. Ternina had been indisposed by a slight cold during the day, and up to the raising of the curtain, which was delayed about ten minutes, it was a question whether Mme Gadski would not be obliged to come to the rescue. But Ternina appeared and sang and acted Elisabeth with her usual tenderness and beauty of tone. She is Lilli Lehmann's successor on the musical stage.

Fraulein Delsarte Sings Well

Fraulein Delsarte (Poppi von Possart) sang the small role of the Shepherd gracefully. Plançon repeated his dignified and sonorous Waldgrave, and Van Rooy his melodious Wolfram.

Herr Mottl conducted with complete authority. His tempi are slower than we are accustomed to - for instance, in the [beginning] of the overture - but he makes every detail tell without marring the general effect.

This conductor is fast becoming an American. On Thursday at the "Tannhäuser" rehearsal the chorus of Pilgrims were too slow in coming on. Thereupon Herr Mottl, of Karlsruhe, Germany, call out to them: "Go 'way back and sit down."

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