[Met Performance] CID:3450
Metropolitan Opera Premiere
Die Walküre {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/30/1885.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)
(Debuts: Miss Kemlitz, Josef Hoffmann, Carl Doepler, James Stuart, Jr.
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 30, 1885
Metropolitan Opera Premiere


DIE WALKÜRE {1}
Wagner-Wagner

Brünnhilde..............Amalie Materna
Siegmund................Anton Schott
Sieglinde...............Auguste Seidl-Kraus
Wotan...................Josef Staudigl
Fricka..................Marianne Brandt
Hunding.................Joseph Kögel
Gerhilde................Marianne Brandt
Grimgerde...............Miss Kemlitz [Debut]
Helmwige................Anna Robinson
Ortlinde................Anna Stern
Rossweisse..............Helena Brandl
Schwertleite............Carrie Morse
Siegrune................Anna Slach
Waltraute...............Anna Gutjar

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

Director................Wilhelm Hock
Set Designer............Josef Hoffmann [Debut]
Set Designer............William Schaeffer
Set Designer............Gaspar Maeder
Costume Designer........Carl Doepler [Debut]
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian
Lighting Designer.......James Stuart, Jr. [Debut]

Die Walküre received sixteen performances this season.

[The program states that "The stage settings, by Herr Wilhelm Hock, are after the original at Bayreuth." When Wagner staged the Ring at Bayreuth in 1876, the sets were designed by Josef Hoffmann, the costumes by Carl Emil Doepler. Hock, who was in fact the Metropolitan Opera's chief Stage Manager, oversaw the creation of the sets and costumes executed in New York by the Messrs. Schaeffer, Maeder and Dazian.]

[Alternate titles: The Valkyrie; Die Walkuere.]


Review of Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune

As was to have been expected from the earnestness, thoroughness and intelligence exhibited in the proparation and the character of the people concerned in the respresentation, the production of "Die Walküre" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night was the crowning achievement of Dr. Damrosch and his artists. So far as it was possible to make it so the representation followed those at Bayreuth, which must of course be regarded as the model for all time since they were projected and carried out under the eyes of the poet composer. The scenery and costumes were faithfully copied, except that for the sake of increased picturesqueness draperies took the place of a modern door in Hunding's hut in the first act, a larger expanse of the moonlit background was opened to the view in the transporting love scene which follows the so-called entrance of the spring, and in the third act, the costumes of the Valkries were more varied in color. Among the stage people there were also reminders of the first series of festival plays. The central character of the drama, Brünnhilde, was impersonated by Frau Materna, whose name is ineradicably associated with it; Herr Kogel, the Hunding of the occasion,, was also concerned with the festival performances, though in a minor capacity, and Frau Kraus, then too young to take a leading part was, we believe, among the women who greeted with mute sorrow the dead body of the hero, Siegfried, in the last drama of the tetralogy. Fräulein Brandt, self-sacrificing and earnest as usual, was the Fricka of the second act, and in the third act did effective service in throwing a deal of energetic life into the scene as one the Wishmaidens (sic). Her connection with the Bayreuth performances did not begin until three years ago, when she alternated in the impersonation of Kundry in "Parsifal." Nevertheless she, too, stands among the acknowledgedly foremost representations of Wagner characters, as does Herr Schott, on other stages than that of Bayreuth. Bearing these things in mind, therefore, and remembering, besides, that the stage was in the heands of Herr Hock, as experienced and efficient a stage-manager as Germany can boast, and that the whole representation was directed by a zealous devotee of Wagnerian art, it will be evident that the admireers of "Die Walküre" had good cause for the enthusiasm which they exhibited last night…Last night's representation…was in every respect worthy of the drama of the music, of the creative artist and all the interpreters from Dr. Damrosch down…the drama was admirably given…singers, musicians, and stage-hands worked with a single eye to the interpretation of the drama as Wagner conceived it.


From the review of W. J. Henderson in The New York Times

...two years after its production at Bayreuth it was sung at the Academy of Music in this city. Without disregarding the good intentions or enterprise of the persons then concerned...it must be said that the performance, interesting and meritorious, was not on a scale of magnitude befitting the importance of the work. Last night's production of "Die Walküre" is to be regarded in fact as the earliest adequate attempt to convey a complete impression of the dramatic, lyric, and spectacular characteristics of Wagner's music-drama. An auditorium crowded to overflowing, an air of expectancy such as one rarely beholds in the playhouse of the period, and the unbroken silence begotten of almost painful attention indicated the deep concern of the musical public in the event...
.
The music of "Die Walküre," although its flow is almost as unchecked by conventional operatic forms as that of "Tristan and Isolde," is more closely related to "Lohengrin" by its themes and treatment than to the products of the composer's maturer years. The reformer's theories as to leading motives are, however, put into much more frequent practice than in "Lohengrin," and the designation of each personage by a theme, which forshadows the coming or accompanies the appearance of the character, and even recalls his or her existence to the listener in the character's absence from the stage-an idea, by the way which originated with Gluck-is adhered to throughout the score with absolute consistency....it may safely be affirmed that until the listener of the Tetralogy has mastered them all he will not quite realize the eloquence and ingenuity of the composer's lyric narrative. On the other hand, the score is rich in music that appeals with sensuous luxuriance to the most superficial admirer of sweet strains and glorious harmonies....

The representation of "Die Walküre" at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday was brought to a close half an hour after midnight had struck. Its shortcomings and defects were so few and insignificant that it may be referred to with fairness as a perfect performance. In almost all respects Wagner's music-drama had almost as complete a rendering as when it was brought out at Bayreuth, eight years since, and no public-rehearsal of either the opera or its best known scenes that has ever been listened to in this city is to be at all compared to the one under notice....The largest measure of praise belongs undoubtedly to Dr. Damrosch's orchestra, whose energy never flagged, whose proficiency was unimpeachable, and whose talent and enthusiasm enabled the listener to catch the finest shades of the composer's music, as well as enjoy its most brilliant and powerful tone-pictures. To Dr. Damrosch...is to be ascribed...no small part of its admirable condition, and when it is borne in mind that the conductor's labors extended into every department of an opera house, it will be understood, too, that something more than a share of the praise bestowed upon the musicians falls to his lot. Next in order are to be mentioned the faultless personations of Herr Schott and Frau Materna, and, as standing almost in the same plane, Frau Kraus's delineation of Sieglinde and Fräulein Brandt's Fricka ....Frau Materna's Brünnhilde is... a portrayal of world-wide celebrity and her impressive scenes with Siegmund and Wotan last night-scenes in which her deep feeling, expressive tones, and majestic appearance...told quite as strongly as the beauty and volume of her voice, were awaited with a confidence that was fully justified by the event. Herr Schott's Siegmund was an agreeable surprise. A representation combining dignity and picturesqueness of look and bearing and frequent declamatory outbursts of unquestionable force had been looked for, but the delightful cantabile delivery of the love song, and a hundred dainty touches of tenderness in his scenes with Sieglinde, came under the spectator with agreeable freshness. Frau Kraus contributed a refined and highly dramatic sketch of Sieglinde, and when Fräulein Brandt good-naturedly took upon herself the rather thankless duties of Fricka she did so in the certainty that a finished representation of even so thankless a part would not fail of appreciation. Except in the last scene, when Herr Staudigl's voice occasionally gave evidence of fatigue, that skilled artist was quite equal to the task imposed upon Wotan, and Herr Koegel proved himself a competent Hunding. The Walkyries all had comely representatives, but in their final interview with Wotan their shrieks were even more out of tune than Wagner intended. The scenery was quite new and as massive and appropriate as that in use at Bayreuth....The costumes and accessories, too, were in keeping with the lyric quality of the production. Dr. Damrosch and the principal singers were summoned before the curtain at the end of the first act, and, when the opera terminated, its climax was followed by a still more enthusiastic demonstration.



Photograph of Amalie Materna as Brünnhilde. This photograph is from the
1876 production of Die Walküre at the first Bayreuth Festival.



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