[Met Performance] CID:43330
Götterdämmerung {65} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/24/1909.

(Debut: Leon Rains

Metropolitan Opera House
February 24, 1909


Brünnhilde..............Johanna Gadski
Siegfried...............Carl Burrian
Gunther.................Adolph Mühlmann
Gutrune.................Rita Fornia
Hagen...................Leon Rains [Debut]
Waltraute...............not performed
Alberich................Otto Goritz
First Norn..............Marianne Flahaut
Second Norn.............Maria Ranzow
Third Norn..............Félicie Kaschowska
Woglinde................Lenora Sparkes
Wellgunde...............Henriette Wakefield
Flosshilde..............Louise Homer

Conductor...............Arturo Toscanini

Unsigned review in the New York Globe


Johanna Gadski, the greatest topnote artist left after Caruso and Tetrazzini and now, at last, acknowledged in her own right, publicly, as the "first woman absolute" for Italian or German opera at the elder house, took her life in her hands at 12:15 o'clock this morning and led a fire-seared horse into the flaming finale of Wagner's "Götterdämmerung." A huge audience for Lent sat and drank in the golden topnotes from 7:30 o'clock to the close of the longest performance yet. It was a fourth time for the "Ring's" chief tragedy, a record shared by "Tiefland," "Tannhauser" and "Parsifal." No wonder the rumor grew that Dippel would get his new contract. from the directors this afternoon.

German opera always comes to its own this once in a year. The Italians, who couldn't draw a corporal's guard on Ash Wednesday, will also for the first time in many seasons take a week off at the beginning of April, which is Holy Week. There were three new singers in last night's German cast, and it was a pleasure to hear the tenor, Carl Burrian, do the best singing he has put to his credit in a poetic toast to the absent Brunnhilde before Siegfried's troubles began. In spite of his short stature, he found the true dignity of the biggest of Wagner's heroes.

New York's new bass. Leon Rains, who like Allen Hinckley is better known abroad, put the most unexpected thrills into Siegfried's midnight death. This slim and active Hagen has a pleasant, mild voice that masked his villany until suddenly he ran clean across the stage and thrust a sixteen-foot spear shaft for half its length through the aerial vicinity of Burrian' elbow, not to say lights and spleen. The fall of Gunther Muhlmann later was a slashing sword-play.

Double murder as a fine art violated neither the unwritten nor the Rains law. This particular young American mixes Rains with brains to the extent of having ideas about Wagner. "I cannot see," he has said, "why Hagen who is half a god, should be afraid of the dead Siegfried's raised hand. It also seems to me that either Brunnhilde should kill Hagen, or he, her, as in the drama by Hebber, which is, in my opinion, a better solution of the tragedy."

Toscanini again conducted Italy's favorite Wagner score to general applause. Louise Homer chaperoned the Rhine Daughters whom the stage hands bottled up in the cellar. Kaschowska was matron for the twin herculean women. Flahaut and Ranzenberg, in the prologue of the Norns.

As Flahaut was brought back from a Bonci concert tour, so the wandering Rappold also was announced tonight in "Trovatore "

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun



Mr. Toscanini Conducts a Good Performance - Mme. Gadski as Brüuunilde and Mr. Burrian as Siegfried - Leon Rains Appears as Hagen.

It was a good performance that the audience at the Metropolitan Opera House enjoyed last night. Wagner's "Götterdämmerung" was performed, and since local conditions cause it to be given apart from the rest of the "Ring" tragedy let us at least rejoice that it is presented with so much respect for its own poetic spirit. For this accomplishment gratitude is due to all concerned in the performance. Again, as heretofore the conducting of Mr. Toscanini challenged admiration. It is indisputable that his direction throws not a little responsibility on the singers, for he indicates their entrances infrequently. His attention seems to be centered on the playing of the orchestra.

But with a cast of experienced Wagner singers such as he had before him last night, his faith in the certainty of the solo voices is not misplaced, and his concentration of his thought and personal force on the orchestra produces good results. His reacting is no emasculated version, which might he expected of an Italian. Some parts of the first act were in previous performances dragged and smoothed out too much, but judging from last night's performance this must have been due to some of the principals rather than to the conductor. Last night there was an inspiriting vigor from the beginning of the duet of Siegfried and Brünnhilde. How the second act has gone in every performance lovers of the drama remember with honor to Mr. Toscanini. As for the orchestra, its playing was worthy of a Bayreuth festival.

Mme. Gadski was the Brünnhilde, a splendid picture for the eye and, with her beautiful voice in perfect sonority, a delight to the ear. Germany has no better Brünnhilde to send us. Mr. Burrian's Siegfried was generally good and in places more than that. No one has sung the invocation to the absent Brünnhilde before the drink of forgetfulness better than he sang it last evening.

Leon Rains, an American basso who has been for some years in Dresden, made his début as Hagen. Mr. Rains has a fairly good voice of not very large volume. His delivery of the music was quite in accord with the German traditions, but his interpretation of the part was unnecessarily melodramatic. Still he must be credited with a respectable performance.

Regret must be expressed once again that the important Waltraute scene is omitted from the first act. The omission matters little to those who listen to "Götterdämmerung" as mere opera, but it robs the tragedy of much of its ethical significance and even leaves it incomplete as a mere play. Let us hope that Mr. Toscanini may be brought to see that this omission mars one of his greatest successes in New York. He was in the habit of cutting this scene at La Scala and giving the Norns episode. The drama would be stronger with the latter omitted and the former restored.

The Norns scene is awkward even when well done, and its musical beauty hardly atones for its dramatic futility. On the other hand, the Waltraute scene has not only deep dramatic significance but moving musical eloquence. In the whole Nibelung cycle there is nothing more noble than Waltraute's description of the broken Wotan waiting for the end, and if Mr. Toscanini wishes to plunge himself into an ocean of orchestral glory this scene will give him a golden opportunity.

If, however, the Norms scene must be given there might be some improvement in the manner thereof. Mme. Flahaut contributed to it the most satisfactory part. Her singing commanded admiration.

Review of Emilie Frances Bauer in the Mail

"Götterdämmerung" given last night at the Metropolitan, was the second Wagnerian performance at that house this week, and will be followed on Saturday by a performance of "Die Meistersinger." In view of which it does not seem necessary to deny the fact that the Italian influence at the Metropolitan is detrimental to the production of German opera. Even without the additional interest brought to it by a change of cast in three of the principal rôles, the production, one of Toscanini's greatest achievements, was a masterpiece of interpretation, even though there was not complete perfection in the reeds and brasses.

Mme. Gadski sang Brünnhilde, Burrian was heard for the first time in New York as the older Siegfried and Leon Rains, from the Dresden opera house, sang the role of Hagen. The other parts were filled as heretofore by Miss Fornia, Muhlmann and Goritz and the Norns and Rhine maidens were entrusted to Mmes. Flahaut, Ranzenberg and Kaschowska in the former and Mmes. Homer, Sparkes and Mattfeld in the latter.

Mme. Gadski, who has grown up to the very exacting and difficult rôle by degrees, gave a stirring impersonation, full of womanly beauty and refinement. That she was strongly under the influence of Toscanini was obvious, and that such an influence will be of infinite value to the young singer upon whom Wagner lovers put much dependence and build many hopes cannot be doubted.

Her voice was rich and luscious last night, and there were but few moments when she forced it outside of the range of beauty. Burrian has so much depending upon him that even in spite of certain shortcomings he has elements which make him of utmost value. His principal merit lies in the fact that he may be relied upon for a healthy, hearty delivery which, if not always poetical and not all that might be desired vocally, is still manly and intelligent. These characteristics were present last night, and most of the music he sang exceedingly well.

The newcomer was, as is usually the case with newcomers, not heard to the best advantage, because outside of a cold which made itself obvious, Mr. Rains had expected to make his first bid for American honors as "Mephlstopheles" in "Faust." His Hagen, however, was interesting and he succeeded in giving dramatic interest and life to a part which is usually deadly dull. His make-up was different from that usually seen and his heroic figure and mysterious atmosphere marked a new note. Some of his tones are very beautiful and some did not carry over the footlights, but his vocal attainments will be better judged from the Gounod work in which he is to appear on Monday night.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).