[Met Performance] CID:355139
Götterdämmerung {19}
Ring Cycle [9]
Amphion Academy, Brooklyn, New York: 05/16/1889.

(Review)


New York, Brooklyn
Amphion Academy
May 16, 1889


GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG {19}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [9]

Brünnhilde..............Lilli Lehmann
Siegfried...............Paul Kalisch
Gunther.................Joseph Beck
Gutrune.................Louise Meisslinger
Hagen...................Emil Fischer
Woglinde................Sophie Traubmann
Wellgunde...............Félicie Kaschowska
Flosshilde..............Hedwig Reil

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

[In this season's performances of Götterdämmerung, the following music was omitted: the scene with the three Norns in the Prologue; in Act I, Scene 3, the scene between Brünnhilde and Waltraute; and Act II, Scene 1, with Alberich and Hagen.]


Review (unsigned) in the Brooklyn Eagle:

GERMAN OPERA.

Last night at the Amphion the Niebelungen series rounded to a conclusion with the "Götterdämmerung." The magic ring has wrought the circuit of its fatality. Torn, at the beginning of the tetralogy, from the Rhine Daughters it reverts at the end to its owners, having in the interval fulfilled its prophecy of disaster and changed the face of two worlds. The devices by which Wotan has sought to save himself and his fabled associates have come to naught. The gods have crossed for the last time the rainbow bridge to Walhalla, and the affairs of earth are turned over to the will, the weakness, the passions, the virtue and the treachery of men. The half human relatives of the gods have encountered their doom. The torch which lights their funeral pyre is the signal for the kindling of Walhalla fires. The twilights of its deities is complete and, as the unsubstantial pageant fades upon the sky, "universal darkness buries all" of the mythical celestial world. We can say farewell to these supernal personages without regret as our own world is relieved from their questionable custody and left to work out its own destiny so far as they are concerned: for it shall go hard indeed with the planet if it produce not a race better upon the whole than theirs. In "The Dusk of the Gods, too, Wagner finished the occult allegory which he intended to demonstrate the philosophy of Schoppenhauer. Very few people will care for this lecture between the lines. The average theater goer or music lover dos not secure his seats in the Academy in order to study metaphysics. If he did so, pessimism is too hard a lesson to learn in hours of relaxation. Great men have their hobbies, and Wagner will be pardoned his by his listeners - so long as they are not obliged to share it. The "Götterdämmerung" is the crowning witness of the composer's genius. Individual taste may incline to some other one of the four parts, so far as the pleasure of the hour is affected, but it will be agreed that only the highest order of capacity could have avoided an anti-climax to the lofty level along which the preceding dramas move. On the contrary, Wagner gathers all the accumulated material for a final and mighty effort. To this is brought all the thought and suggestion, from the first note of the "Rheingold" to the last one which accompanies the dying flame of the home of the gods. The themes and phrases which form the strong fibre and thrilling nerves of the work are wrought into a marvelous fabric. Every reminiscence is culminating in its effect, until the orchestral lament for the death of Siegfried and tone story of his life seems to exhaust the resources of music. There was very little of drawback in the performance of last night. The material appoints were excellent. Whatever modification was compelled by a smaller stage - of which mention has heretofore been made - perhaps did not impair the result. For example, in the final fire scene the gods were disclosed rather hard by, in a too obvious family group, but this was better than the commonplace canvas arrangement at the first production in New York. The singing - so far as that word is suitable to the declamatory utterances of these dramas - has not been better, in this country at least. The movement was smooth and the acting satisfactory. One criticism the company may not escape. The characterization is sometimes histrionic rather than dramatic. There is an occasional excess of posing and arms are overworked. It may be admitted that, so far as the Brünnhilde is concerned, a good deal of courage is required to resist the opportunities which her resources in this respect offer. But the continuous exaltation and saving and flinging are not consistent with that repose which is an undoubted charm, and intensity might be oftener substituted to advantage for physical demonstration. Nevertheless two figures stand finely in the setting - those of Lehmann and Fischer. The former mastered the difficulties of score and of situation with magnificent effect, and the latter filled the scene as the black Hagen. Nothing could be better than the feeling of the sharp point of the spear and the half hesitation emphasizing the determination with which it is driven into Siegfried's body. These are mere touches of a careful personation. The Siegfried of Kalisch was surprisingly good - that is for those who had regarded him as rather light for the hero. He bore himself with manliness throughout and his story, told just before his taking off, was narrated with rare and moving spirit. The charming Rhine music was charmingly delivered by the daughters, Traubmann, Kaschoska and Reil, which Joseph Beck and Louise Meislinger were fitted for their work. The best remains to tell. The orchestral score is not only the foundation, but the greater part of the superstructure. It would have held unbroken attention if the persons of the drama had moved in pantomime, or if the curtain had stayed down. The question inevitably occurred, Will the time come when Wagner with the orchestra will be preferred to Wagner on the stage? Last night the playing was such as can be accomplished only by constant work under such a conductor as Seidl. An attractive audience assembled - well dress, neither over nor under dressed, as in New York - but still more admirable for close attention and intelligent apprehension. There are only two more programmes of the German Company, "Die Meistersinger" tonight and "Tannhäuser" tomorrow night.



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