[Met Performance] CID:354623
Lohengrin {187} Tomlinson Hall, Indianapolis, Indiana: 12/14/1901.


Indianapolis, Indiana
December 14, 1901


Lohengrin...............Jacques Bars
Elsa....................Johanna Gadski
Ortrud..................Ernestine Schumann-Heink
Telramund...............David Bispham
King Heinrich...........Edouard de Reszke
Herald..................Adolph Mühlmann

Conductor...............Walter Damrosch

Review (unsigned) in the Indianapolis News




From the Failure of Calvé to Come to the Convulsions of the Radiators in Tomlinson Hall

Poor Indianapolis! It was promised two performances of grand opera in an entire season, and then these two must dwindle into one and that one was not altogether satisfactory. Our grand opera "season" in short, resolved itself into one opera with some superlatively fine singing and a series of vexations. The vexations may be summed up thus:
  Vexation No. 1 - Calvé did not come;
  Vexation No. 2 - Sanderson did not come;
  Vexation No. 3 - The choice of place - Tomlinson Hall, instead of English's Opera House, the only place in the city where grand opera can properly be given;
  Vexation No. 4 - The bitter weather;
  Vexation No. 5 - Late arrival of the scenery, a delay almost two hours, during which a patient audience sat in the cold hall or huddled around the radiators, watching the perplexingly slow progress of the stage hands and the final announcement that no afternoon performance would be given;
  Vexation No. 6 - The presence at night of only one ticket taker, so that scores of people stood on the stairway from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour, thus missing the entire introduction of the opera;
 Vexation No. 7 - Dippel did not sing;
 Vexation No. 8 - The rattling of radiators, which seemed to choose the pianissimo passages in Gadski's arias as their special time for intrusion.

Can it be true, as many people suspect, that Mr. Grau intends to have his greatest singers appear only where the sales of tickets have been very large? However, the night audience was amply rewarded for its attendance. In the Elsa of Johanna Gadski, the Ortrud of Ernestine Schumann-Heink, the Frederick of David Bispham, the Heinrich of Edouard de Reszke, and in Walter Damrosch as conductor, there could be no disappointment. Gadski looked like a saint out of a medieval church window and sang with marvelous purity of tone and moving fervor. As a rule, the dream song in the first act is made more of than she made it, but evidently she deliberately refrained from rendering it markedly dramatic in order to emphasize more strongly the larger climaxes of the part. Schumann-Heink, whose radiating personage seems to take and fill the entire stage, was really the star among the singers. The amplitude of her gestures, her immense voice sounding with thrilling power, and her absolute absorption of herself in the character she is presenting are almost unparalleled on the opera stage. She ranks easily with those heroic Wagnerian singers, Materna, Klafsky and Lilli Lehmann.

Mr. de Reszke, with his towering figure, looked the king to perfection. He sang the part ideally. Mr. Bispham made an admirable Frederick. His voice, which was so treacherous a season or so ago, he has again in perfect command. Mr. Muhlmann was a satisfactory herald. Mr. Bars, who sang in the place of Mr. Dippel, was acceptable in acting, though somewhat effeminate, but frequently sang off the key. Nervousness probably had something to do with this for, while the farewell to the swan in the first act was as unsteady as even, the unfortunate Alvary sang it the second and third acts much better. Three really great features in the performance were the sextet immediately preceding the combat, the scene between Ortrud and Elsa and the duet in the bridal chamber, the melody of which might well be termed a second "prize song." The chorus was as large as the stage permitted and sang well.

The artistic fate of the performance depended largely on Mr. Damrosch and great praise is due him. Nothing in the orchestra or on the stage escaped his glance and his baton, masterful and magnetic, led the forces in both places to triumphant heights. Though the hall was not filled, there was a large audience and one that realized the striking merits of the performance as well as the defects. "Lohengrin" is familiar music now to almost everyone and as a consequence it is enjoyed by hundreds where only scores care to penetrate the mazes of the "Ring."

Excerpt from Opera Caravan by Quaintance Eaton, pages 98-99.

After a month on the West Coast, Grau's company returned through Missouri, Indiana and Ohio. Attendance dropped discouragingly in St. Louis, Kansas City, Cleveland and Cincinnati, and in Indianapolis Grau encountered the most adverse circumstances of the tour. English's Opera House, where he has played in 1899, was not available, and he had been forced into Tomlinson Hall, a large room over City Market, inadequate in every respect.

On the bitter December day, with temperatures predicted at ten degrees below zero, the opera train arrived late from St. Louis. Costumers shivering in the freezing hall for two hours were eventually told to get refunds at the box office; the matinee Roméo et Juliette had to be canceled. Scenery for Lohengrin was hoisted through the windows, and the audience that evening huddled in coats and wondered how much of Wagner's music they had missed under the victorious "clanks" of the steam radiators.

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