[Met Performance] CID:34570
Tristan und Isolde {71} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/11/1905.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 11, 1905


TRISTAN UND ISOLDE {71}
Wagner--Wagner

Tristan.................Heinrich Knote
Isolde..................Lillian Nordica
Kurwenal................Anton Van Rooy
Brangäne................Edyth Walker
King Marke..............Robert Blass
Melot...................Adolph Mühlmann
Sailor's Voice..........Jacques Bars
Shepherd................Albert Reiss
Steersman...............Julius Bayer

Conductor...............Alfred Hertz

Director................Emil Greder

Tristan und Isolde received three performances this season.


Review in the New York Times:

First Performance of Wagner's Tragedy

Mr. Knote as Tristan

Beautiful Singing Marks Much of the Performance - Mme. Nordica reappears as Isolde

Exactly midway in the season of the Metropolitan Opera House, Tristan und Isolde was produced last evening. The occasion was memorable, for the first performance of Wagner's great tragedy of love and fate must needs be one of the most important events of the season, and especially must it be when it is so fine a performance as that of last evening.

It was one of superb energy and life, and one in which the musical element of the drama was most beautifully and most potently brought foremost. We have learned thoroughly in recent years how wonderful that element is in Tristan und Isolde, and how marvelously power fo the drama is raised by a true singing of the vocal parts, how eloquent their declamation is as music, and how necessary to the proper performance of the work it is to her this music sung, with all that there is of beautiful tone, beautiful legato, beautiful phrasing, sustained power, and dramatic coloring.

Of this Mme. Nordica, Miss Edyth Walker, Mr. Knote, and Mr. Van Rooy gave some of the highest exemplification that we have heard here. They are all well-remembered and well-beloved representative s of the chief characters of the drama except Mr. Knote, who appeared as Tristan for the first time in New York. The part is not one for which he has all the qualifications in imposing presence and heroic style, torrential passion, and consuming ardor. His finest achievement is in the singing of the music; and it has hardly been more superbly sung her than it was by him.

His voice, at its best in power and purity, took on the heroic accent and a wealth of dramatic color that fitted the music with the highest of its expressive potency. It was, of course, heard to the best advantage in the more lyric passages; for the bursts of delirious anguish in the last act he has not quite the volume necessary. Mr. Knote has a deeply felt and highly intelligent conception of the part, that in no wise failed in adequate interpretation of it. It is not to be ranked with some of the greatest we have had, but it is one that gave an uncommon pleasure in many ways.

Mme. Nordica, returned to the character of Isolde, in which she has reached perhaps her highest level as a dramatic singer. She sang it beautifully last evening, and acted it with the intelligence and understanding of its significance that she showed in years past. It is an intellectual triumph that she gains in it, for, with all the respect she compels for her mastery of its various phases, she rarely gives the impression of real passion or of a really profound sympathy with it. Her mastery of it is forced by the sheer power of will rather than by the impulse and sweep of temperament. There were some moments of uncertainty in her performance last evening, as in the duet in the second act, when she seemed at a loss for the musical phrase, and there were some passages of wrong intonation. But these were temporary shadows upon an interpretation that ranks high in the annals of the Metropolitan.

Miss Walker's Brangaene was a very noble contribution to the beautiful singing of the evening's performance, and Mr. Van Rooy's Kurwenal is cherished in the memory as one of the most touching and poetic representations of that character that have ever been seen here. Mr. Blass as King Marke, and Mr. Muhlmann as Melot, were both deserving of commendation.

Mr. Hertz conducted with much energy and with the unmistakable purpose of infusing life and movement into the performance. His reading of the score is often calculated upon too sonorous a scale in the orchestra; it is scarcely subtle, but it has dramatic strength and the ebb and flow of passion. The deep appeal that Tristan und Isolde makes to this public is never in doubt, nor was it last evening, when the audience was very large and very attentive.



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