[Met Performance] CID:42090
United States Premiere
Tiefland {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/23/1908.
 (United States Premiere)

Metropolitan Opera House
November 23, 1908
United States Premiere


Marta...................Emmy Destinn
Pedro...................Erik Schmedes
Nuri....................Isabelle L'Huillier
Sebastiano..............Fritz Feinhals
Moruccio................Otto Goritz
Tommaso.................Allen Hinckley
Nando...................Albert Reiss
Pepa....................Rita Fornia
Antonia.................Marie Mattfeld
Rosalia.................Maria Ranzow

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

Director................Anton Schertel
Set Designer............Anton Brioschi

Tiefland received six performances this season.

Review of Pitts Sanborn in the Globe

Up to the last scene but one, the fate of "Tiefland" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night hung in the balance. The piece was handsomely mounted, the performance had evidently been carefully rehearsed. The cast was in the main excellent, Miss Destinn and Mr. Feinhals in particular were singing and acting superbly, and yet the audience was perfunctory in its applause and many people had departed early to seek their carriages; those that remained were asking each other what there was in this opera to make it the sensation of the year in Germany, when suddenly the audience found itself face to face with the most exciting stage duel an opera house has seen hereabouts in many a year and, as the curtain fell on the vision of a triumphant husband bearing his bride aloft in his arms as he set his face toward the uplands, the tense silence of the huge auditorium was rent with cheers Apparently Eugen d'Albert's "Tiefland" presented thus for the first time in America, has a good prospect of repeating in New York the success that has been its portion in Germany.

In "Tiefland" as in "Louise" and the majority of recent operas, the play's the thing. The libretto of "Tiefland," based an Guimera's play known in the English version as "Marta of the Lowlands," presents a concise, powerful melodrama of peasant life. The story, recently summarized in The Globe, has the romantic quality and the remoteness from every day life which. until lately. were deemed essential to serious opera and, even after the realism of "Fedora" and "Louise," are in some quarters still held desirable. It has, too, the fierce, primitive passions and the simplicity of incident which always lend themselves well to operatic treatment.

The music of d'Albert, judged by a single hearing, is little more than an accessory to the play, though a sufficiently melodious and agreeable accessory. D'Albert is a serious and scholarly musician. He knows his Wagner, and has the courage of his knowledge, Being a pianist, he is not unmindful of Chopin. Like the rest of the world he has heard "Carmen" and learned the value of dance rhythms when treating a Spanish subject. He does not fellow the Strausses and Regers of his adopted country or the d'Indys and Debussys of France into the debatable land of ultramodern harmony. His treatment of the orchestra is skilful, but not revolutionary. Repeated hearings may reveal more striking beauties in the music. At first, anyway, it seems of minor importance, often effective in heightening the action, often pleasing to the ear, but after all in essence an accompaniment.

The great scene at the close is a duel not only in the brutal physical sense, but as a crucial combat between all that is good and all that is evil in the action and, even so, it could not achieve its overwhelming effectiveness with anything less utterly realistic than the terrific struggle of last night between Messrs. Schmedes and Feinhals and the agonized by-play of Miss Destinn.

The performance of these three artists was, indeed, throughout the opera of a kind to merit hearty praise. Mr. Schmedes, vocally is inferior to his associates. He sings as German "heroic tenors" usually sing - i. e. he is for the most part content to shout vigorously. But his acting was intelligently planned and carried out with enthusiasm and power. Mr. Feinhals has a resourceful stage technique that is exceedingly rare in a German singing actor. At the same time he has the German sincerity and absorption in what he is doing. He made of Sebastiano, the rich land owner, a commanding and sinister figure. He sang with splendid voice and fine skill.

One would hardly have suspected that Miss Destinn was playing Marta for the first time on any stage. Her acting of the part was masterly. She is one of the few operatic actresses who in emotional scenes do not lash the air with their arms and rave up and down the stage. She knows that an effect of emotion is often in inverse ratio to the violence with which it is expressed. She can, when she wills, make her points with the quietness of a Duse. As Marta last night she presented a suffering peasant girl, not a tragedy queen. Her dignity was the unassumed dignity of nature. Miss Destinn's voice was again of haunting beauty and, even in the most impassionate outbursts, always under control and delightfully true to the pitch. Her singing throughout the evening was that of a great artist.

The less important parts were also capably done. Miss L'Huillier was youthful and sympathetic as Nuri. Mmes Mattteld, and Randa did capitally the chattering village gossips. Mr. Goritz as the miller Moruccio added a quaint character sketch, The rich
voice of Mr. Hinkley was good to hear in the music of Tommaso.

The orchestra, guided with skill by Mr. Hertz, again played admirably and the chorus delighted with the freshness and vigor of its singing. The two stage settings, a rocky slope in the Pyrenees, and the interior of a Mill in the lowlands, were praiseworthy, as were the lighting and the management of crowds. If "Tiefland" fails of the success that the enthusiasm at the final curtain last night seemed to insure, it will not do so for any lack of pains on the part at the management of the Metropolitan Opera House to present it to the public as favorably as possible,

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