[Met Performance] CID:42030
Die Walküre {126} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/18/1908.

(Debuts: Erik Schmedes, Allen Hinckley, Matja von Niessen-Stone, Rosina Van Dyck, Maria Ranzow, Fritz Feinhals
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 18, 1908


DIE WALKÜRE {126}
Wagner-Wagner

Brünnhilde..............Johanna Gadski
Siegmund................Erik Schmedes [Debut]
Sieglinde...............Olive Fremstad
Wotan...................Fritz Feinhals [Debut]
Fricka..................Louise Homer
Hunding.................Allen Hinckley [Debut]
Gerhilde................Lenora Sparkes
Grimgerde...............Matja von Niessen-Stone [Debut]
Helmwige................Rita Fornia
Ortlinde................Rosina Van Dyck [Debut]
Rossweisse..............Maria Ranzow [Debut]
Schwertleite............Paula Wöhning
Siegrune................Marie Mattfeld
Waltraute...............Louise Homer

Conductor...............Alfred Hertz

Director................Anton Schertel
Set Designer............Max Brückner
Set Designer............Obronsky, Impekoven & Co.

Die Walküre received eight performances this season.

[Company records suggest Brückner designed the set for Act II. At the time of her debut Ranzow was listed in company programs as Mary Randa. She changed her billing on December 4 and performed for the remainder of this season as Ranzenberg. In 1931 she appeared with the company under the name Maria Ranzow.]


Review of Henry E. Krehbiel in the Tribune

MUSIC

GERMAN OPERA AT THE METROPOLITAN

"Die Walküre" was performed at the Metropolitan Opera House last night, recognition thus being given to Wagnerian and German opera - the two terms have become almost synonymous - on the second night of the first season under the new regime. The representation had some notable features, but the new scenery which it so sadly needs was not among them. So far as the pictures on the stage were concerned, all advantages which the performance showed over those of the last few years came from more careful and intelligent management. Grateful recognition of this ought to have been mixed with the admiration for the singing and acting of the principal performers, which was published every time that the curtain was drawn. Praise was also challenged by the playing of the orchestra and the directing of Mr. Hertz, whose hand was less heavy than usual in the lyric portions, especially of the first act, and who was convincing as well as sympathetic in his reading of the score.

There were newcomers in the cast, and to them all the detailed discussion in a review of the performance might with propriety be devoted were it not for the fact, which it is a pleasure to record, that it was from the old members of the company that the excellences were chiefly due. Mme. Gadski's Brünnhilde, Mme. Fremstad's Sieglinde and Mme. Homer's Fricka gave out the high lights of the performance from a musical point of view, their only worthy companion among the strangers being the Wotan of Fritz Feinhals. This singer comes to replace Mr. Van Rooy. The substitution was not necessary, but if it was to be made it is a good thing for the Wagnerian list that it was so fortunately accomplished. Herr Feinhals was in respect of action and diction the best exemplar of dramatic singing concerned in the performance. It was that he supplied the want left by even the old members of the company, of whom praise has already been spoken. The deficiency was distinctness of utterance, clear and eloquent enunciation of the words, without sacrifice of the music. He follows the latter day tradition in presenting a needlessly peevish and irascible conception of the god's character, but to that we have grown accustomed. It is possible to feel compassion for the saddest of the divine company implicated in the Nibelung tragedy, but a Wotan who is perpetually ill-tempered and fuming with anger is both pitiful and ludicrous. He sacrifices the dignity which ought to hedge the royalty as well as the divinity of the king of the gods. But the matter need not be dwelt upon; it is a question of interpretation which has been much discussed, and so long as plenary inspiration comes from Wahnfried we are likely to witness such manifestations of the "divine wrath" as Herr Feinhals exhibited last night. The exhibition could not prevent the splendid voice, the fine vocalization and the free, plastic acting of the newcomer from receiving large and warm admiration.

The debut of the new Wagnerian tenor, who comes from Vienna, Erik Schmedes, was a less gratifying incident. The most persistent reflection which his singing provoked was that, if as has been said, he is one of the foremost tenors on the German stage today, then the German stage is in a parlous way. It might be best to reserve judgment in this case, but it does not seem possible that such viciousness of vocalization, such unsteadiness of tone, and impurity of intonation, such lack of clarity in enunciation as marred his performance last night can be due to any temporary and passing cause. Mr. Hinckley, the American basso, who was the Hunding of the representation, vied with Herr Schmedes in emitting his tones in distressful puffs and contributed to the disappointment of the evening. Other recruits in the Metropolitan ranks who looked over its footlights for the first time last night were Mesdames Mary Randa, Matja van Niessen-Stone and Rosina van Dyck, but their voices were heard only in the chorus of Valkyrior, helping to make an ensemble that was thrillingly effective. The audience was a fine one.



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