[Met Performance] CID:3960
Tannhäuser {16} Boston Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/15/1885.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Theatre
April 15, 1885


TANNHÄUSER {16}

Tannhäuser..............Charles R. Adams [Only performance]
Elisabeth...............Amalie Materna
Wolfram.................Josef Staudigl
Venus...................Isadora Martinez
Hermann.................Joseph Kögel
Walther.................Otto Kemlitz
Heinrich................Martin Paché
Biterolf................Joseph Miller [Last performance]
Reinmar.................Ludwig Wolf
Shepherd................Anna Stern

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

Unsigned review in the Boston Evening Transcript

A change in three of the four leading characters made it virtually a new cast. It was interesting to have Mr. Adams and Frau Materna as Tannhäuser and Elisabeth, two artists who had often been associated together in these parts in Vienna. That Mr. Adams' voice is no longer adequate to give such a part as Tannhäuser its full physical effectiveness need hardly be said; but, such as his voice is, he has a command over it that many a younger and fresher singer might envy him, and last evening he showed that his long stage experience had in no wise rested during the last few years, and that the blood flows in his veins warm and red as ever. It was indeed a pleasure to hear him sing Tannhäuser with absolute freedom, never losing his grip on a phrase, never miscalculating his breath, never blurring the musical rhythm. As a piece of Wagnerian singing it was not only delightful but instructive. If there be one thing more important than another to be beaten into the heads of singers - and of the public too - it is that voice-parts in Wagner's scores, in the latest of them, as well as the earlier ones, must be "sung," they must not be screamed or shouted. They are not in any sense, musically or dramatically, a mere secondary factor in the musical development; from the first vocal note in "Rienzi" to the last one in "Parsifal," they are without exception, of primary importance; the orchestra is always secondary to them. At Bayreuth, the orchestra is made to play a part which bears very much on the same relation to the voice-parts and the action on the stage that is borne by the "melodramatic music" which accompanies the more emotional scenes in the modern spoken drama. So soon as anyone finds, at a performance of a Wagner opera, or music-drama, that the orchestra over-rides the singer's voices, or - except in a few isolated exclamations of extreme passionate intensity - that it forces the singers to scream and shout, he may be sure that the performance is un-Wagnerian in its most vital essential. Mr. Adam's whole performance last evening was vigorous, finished and beautiful in the extreme. The full effectiveness of the climax in the singing contest was fallen short of, by reason of the omission of Tannhäuser's first reply to Wolfram, and of Walther's first song. This omission brought Tannhäuser "into the fire" too soon, and his jeering taunts at Biterolf seemed uncalled for. In the great narrative in the third act Mr. Adamas was superb. Herr Staudigl, better fitted for Wolfram's music than his predecessor, Herr Robinson; he showed that he well knew how to value Wagner's cantilena, singing "War Zauber, war es reinè Macht?" and the "Abendstern" exquisitely. Frl. Matinez, too, shows far more warmth and seductive grace of sentiment than her predecessor in the part of Venus, albeit she has not quite so sure a command over her physical means as she. She also did not seem to be wholly familiar with her text and music. Frau Materna's Elisabeth was perfect as ever in its ineffable tragic and poetic beauty. Frl. Stern sang the shepherd's song much better than on the first evening, but the others, including the chorus, did, if anything, worse than before. Upon the whole, "Tannhäuser" is an opera which one is forced to recognize as decidedly beyond the powers of the company. There are, indeed, few operas in which a single bad singer can work such frequent and terrible ruin. The technical difficulty of the many minor parts is very great, and unless all of these parts are well done the result is often disastrous.



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