[Met Performance] CID:33070
Tristan und Isolde {67} Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/1/1904.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 1, 1904


Tristan.................Ernst Kraus
Isolde..................Marion Weed
Kurwenal................Anton Van Rooy
Brangäne................Edyth Walker
King Marke..............Victor Klöpfer
Melot...................Adolph Mühlmann
Sailor's Voice..........Jacques Bars
Shepherd................Albert Reiss
Steersman...............Eugène Dufriche

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

[Ernst Kraus cancelled after Act II. Consequently, Act III was drastically cut leaving just the final scene, Marion Weed singing the "Liebestod."]

Review (unsigned) in a Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)


A Disappointment at the Opera That Had a Depressing Effect

The ominous red poster was encountered by the audience entering the Academy of Music last evening. It announced: "In consequence of the sudden illness of Madame Ternina, Miss Marion Weed, although herself indisposed, has kindly consented to sing the role of Isolde tonight." Under such conditions it was manifestly impossible not to recall the rule which forbade the shooting of the organist. Miss Weed was doing her best. It is creditable to a young artist to carry through such a role as Isolde in any way. Only the great ones can sing it. Only the great ones, indeed, have been able to recognize that it is to be and can be sung, or to differentiate between musical delivery and mere shouting. The less experienced and more self-conscious the artist, the more she is forced to rely upon main strength. The part was too much for Miss Weed, and she exhausted herself before the opera was over. The management must have been grateful to her that she made the performance possible, but that was a doubtful service to the public.

No reason was assigned, except a belated apology before the last act, why the rule already referred to should apply to the tenor, or why he should not have been shot. Krauss has sung Tristan, on occasion, indifferently well, but his performance last night was a triumph of badness. No one who did not hear the love duet can imagine how badly it can be sung. The two voices never agreed in pitch, and neither agreed with the orchestra, and the vociferous explosion at the prompter's box only accentuated the trouble. Krauss was, in fact, simply shocking, rough, tuneless, unintelligent, unmusical, wooden, and it was a relief to the audience to hear that, because of his "sudden hoarseness," it was to be relieved of the infliction of his long-drawn dying agonies. The last act was mercifully cut down to the final scene. Even that might have been omitted with advantage, for Miss Weed did not distinguish herself in the "Liebestod."

The most successful of the singers was Miss Walker, whose Brangäne was mainly marred by her persistent tendency to overact. It would have been the most prominent figure without this, because she could sing and her fine, fresh voice had great value in the part and was lovely to listen to. But her youthful dramatic conception of the character was more assertive than clear. Van Rooy makes Kurwenal effective, though his work was uneven, and a new German basso, with a lugubrious nasal tone, made King Marke a more than usually poor-spirited and tedious person

If only the singers had all been stricken voiceless and had left the .performance wholly to the orchestra, it would have been lovely. Here there was no fault. Mottl, with quiet unassertiveness, conducted the wonderful music through all its surging currents with exquisite feeling, with poetic sensibility and breadth of dramatic passion. This performance never has been excelled here either in delicacy of detail or in splendor of cumulative effect, and it was this emotional atmosphere in the orchestra, rising up to obscure the incapacity on the stage, that made endurable and sometimes even pleasurable a presentation of a great music drama otherwise memorable for its failures.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).