[Met Performance] CID:354809
Siegfried (Stadium) {115} Evening ed. Robison Field, St. Louis, Missouri: 06/16/1916.

(Review)


St. Louis, Missouri
Robison Field
June 16, 1916


SIEGFRIED {115}

Siegfried...............Johannes Sembach
Brünnhilde..............Johanna Gadski
Wanderer................Clarence Whitehill
Erda....................Ernestine Schumann-Heink
Mime....................Albert Reiss
Alberich................Otto Goritz
Fafner..................Carl Braun
Forest Bird.............Frieda Hempel

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky

Review (unsigned) in Musical America

'SIEGFRIED' IN THE OPEN AIR AT ST. LOUIS

Open-air opera had its first 'try-out" at Robinson Field on June 16, and the production was accompanied by a remarkable incident in the attempt of a mass of people, estimated between 10,000 and 12,000, to get within audible distance of Wagner's "Siegfried" as presented by an all-star cast from the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York. Through a most unfortunate contract with the owners of the park, Director Edward Siedle was unable to erect his enormous portable stage and orchestra platform at a distance close enough to the seats so that even a part of the music could be heard, Quite unfortunately, the managers did not foresee the action which was going to be taken by a major portion of the audience.

At 7.45 p.m. Conductor Artur Bodanzky started to direct the orchestra, but not a sound was heard in the seats of the grand stand, owing to the noise made by late-comers, as well as the distance. Then came a sudden rush of people laden with wraps, chairs and other articles, hastening down the aisles and over the ball grounds to a place of vantage immediately in front of the orchestra and stage. Great noise and excitement accompanied this rush, and it was fully thirty or forty minutes before five or six thousand people had settled themselves immediately in front of the stage on chairs, benches and wraps on the precious baseball diamond which was the bone of contention in erecting the stage. The police did not interfere, except to keep order, and after this unusual change was made, the performance proceeded in a more regular way. It is doubtful whether such action has ever before been taken by an audience in the United States.

As for the performance, it was a triumph. Local arrangements were under the auspices of the St. Louis Grand Opera Committee, which has done so much to foster the art here, and the misunderstanding and confusion last night were in no wise its fault. Mr. Golterman and other members worked like Trojans to restore order after the unnecessary noise, but to no avail.

Such a galaxy of operatic stars is seldom heard together. Johannes Sembach, as Siegfried, was a pillar of strength during the entire production, and his beautiful singing and capable acting were ably seconded by Albert Reiss, as Mime; Clarence Whitehill, the Wanderer; Otto Goritz, Alberich; Madame Gadski, Brünnhilde; Madame Schumann-Heink, Erda; Frieda Hempel, the Forest Bird; and Carl Braun, Fafner. All of these artists were in excellent voice, and Mr. Bodanzky held his big orchestra of 100 musicians under perfect control.

Mr. Sembach's aria in the first Act was one of the few bits of the opera which carried over the footlights so as to be heard distinctly in all parts of the field. It was a glorious piece of singing. Miss Hempel's "Bird Song" also was heard very distinctly. The crowning musical effort, however, came in the last act, in which the work of Madame Gadski and Mr. Sembach was exceptionally fine. Octave Dua, the young Belgian tenor of the Chicago Opera Company, is travelling with the organization as understudy for the part of Mime.

The gross receipts of the performance were a little more than $13,500 and the expenses exceeded receipts by at least $5,000. From the standpoint of scenic effects the production marked a triumph for Mr. Siedle, and this despite the fact that much of the beauty of both music and scenic effects was lost in the great space!



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