[Met Performance] CID:3590
Tannhäuser {10} Columbia Theater, Chicago, Illinois: 02/23/1885.

(Debut: Wilhelm Junck

Chicago, Illinois
Columbia Theater
February 23, 1885


Tannhäuser..............Anton Schott
Elisabeth...............Amalie Materna
Wolfram.................Adolf Robinson
Venus...................Anna Slach
Hermann.................Joseph Kögel
Walther.................Wilhelm Junck [Debut]
Heinrich................Otto Kemlitz
Biterolf................Joseph Miller
Reinmar.................Ludwig Wolf
Shepherd................Miss Kemlitz

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

Unsigned review in the Chicago Tribune:

The Curtain Rises Two Hours and a Half Late - An Annoying Wait

A necessarily Unsatisfactory Performance - A Good Natured Audience Applauds Liberally

THE WAIT - A Tiresome Experience

The people who poured into the Columbia at 8 o'clock last evening saw notices on the walls, one near the picture of "Romeo and Juliet" and the other tacked beside "Francesca da Rimini" running to the effect: "On account of a snow-blockade which may retard the company the audience is asked to excuse a possible delay in the rising o the curtain." It was not long before the loungers in the lobby learned that the company would not get into town before 8:30 o'clock, and that the curtain would not rise until at least an hour later. The good people who filled the house, however, expected a delay of a quarter or half an hour and accepted readily the "snow blockade" theory. In the lobby a person who was in a position to be well posted said that the delay was caused by the fact that the company, wishing to save the sum of $200 in fares, had come by the West Shore instead of the New York Central. This economy theory was freely discussed, but fortunately the people in the body of the house were altogether ignorant of it. As it was, they were good-natured, chatting, and laughing, and trying to make the best of the situation. Shortly before 9 o'clock the members of the company reached the theatre, and, as it would take too much time to get to the stage-door by a roundabout way, they walked down the side-aisle with their traveling-bags, and were greeted with laughter.

A few minutes after 9 o'clock Mayor Harrison, at the request of Manager Davis, went on the stage to make a speech. He asked in the name of the management the patience of the audience because the company had been forty-nine hours on the road and had not had supper yet. He did not say that the company was late because it had tried to save $200 by taking a circuitous route. Neither did he mention the fact that Manager Davis had telegraphed to New York warning the agent that the company could not afford to take risks while it was perfectly easy to reach Chicago Monday morning. It would have been some consolation to the audience to know that the thrifty singers had saved their $200. At the end of the speech some one in the gallery ironically proposed three cheers for Mayor Harrison, and the proposition was received with hisses from the parquet.

The members of the orchestra got settled in their places at 9:45 o'clock, and Walter Damrosch, the conductor, also felt moved to make a speech. He said that the luggage could not be quickly unpacked, and that he hoped the audience would excuse artists who could not appear at their best under such difficulties. Strangely enough, he also forgot to mention the sum of $200 which had been saved while the audience waited.At the close of his speech some one in the first gallery proposed "Three Cheers of Damrosch," but the hisses of the crowd drowned every other sound. He started on the overture while the people behind the curtain struggled with their trunks. There was another wait of twenty minutes after the overture was finished, and at precisely 10:39 o'clock the curtain went up on the first act of "Tannhäuser." But the sum of $200 had been saved.

THE PERFORMANCE - Promises Something Good

The performance of "Tannhäuser" last night by the German opera troupe was unfortunately but a poor representation of what the company are said to have accomplished in Wagner's splendid work. It would be impossible to judge of the merits of the company from the performance as given under such circumstances, for it was evident that the scenery and all the intended stage effects could not be controlled in the manner in which the manager would have wished. The singers were not in the best form, and felt the awkwardness of the position to which they were placed. The cast included Mme. Materna as Elisabeth, Herr Schott as Tannhäuser, Herr Robinson as Wolfram, Herr Kögel as Hermann, Herr Junck as Walter, Frl. Slack as Venus, and Frl. Kemlitz as the Shepherd. The orchestra numbered some forty men. The overture suffered in its performance by the instruments being still cold and in consequence were not a little out of tune. But enough was heard to know that the band was composed of good players and, under more happy circumstances, will be able to do fine work. The [first] scene, on the hill and home of Venus, which was intended to be most brilliant and in which the ballet music remarkably fine, had to be cut, as the full force of the company was unable to obtain the required costumes. What was seen was only in part suggestive of the intention of the management. Herr Schott as Tannhäuser and Frl. Slack as Venus were seen seated in a graceful grotto as the curtain rose. Herr Schott possesses a large and powerful voice, which he uses with remarkable force. In the scene with Venus he indicated that dramatic ability for declamation which has given him a name among the great German artists. Frl. Slack made a pretty picture as Venus and while her voice is somewhat limited in power, and shows a want of coloring in the dramatic passages, still she produced some effect and helped Tannhäuser carry the scene. Herr Robinson, who appeared as Wolfram, has a flowing baritone voice of a good tone, and he sings with a good appreciation of his lines. The close of the first act, in which the Landgrave and the minstrels, with Tannhäuser, sing the beautiful ensemble number, was very effective. It was nearly 12 o'clock before the second act began and Mme. Materna made her appearance. She was most enthusiastically received, and she sang the lines:

Oh, hall of song, I give the greeting!
All hail to thee, thou hallowed place.

With a splendid power of voice, her full tones filling the theatre with that grandeur of declamatory sound for which she is famous. Her voice is much more expressive in a place the size of Columbia Theatre than it was in the Exposition Building during the May Festival. Last evening she was so much nearer her audience that the different shades of contrast could be heard, and the delightful expression of dramatic feeling was made more manifest. The reception that the company met with from the Chicago opera goers was most hearty, and as a token of good feeling every artist was received with warmest applause.

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