[Met Performance] CID:43550
Die Walküre {130}
Ring Cycle [35]
Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/11/1909.

(Debuts: Elizabeth Clark, Clara Koch-Böhm
Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 11, 1909


DIE WALKÜRE {130}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [35]

Brünnhilde..............Johanna Gadski
Siegmund................Georg Anthes
Sieglinde...............Berta Morena
Wotan...................Walter Soomer
Fricka..................Louise Homer
Hunding.................Allen Hinckley
Gerhilde................Lenora Sparkes
Grimgerde...............Matja von Niessen-Stone
Helmwige................Rita Fornia
Ortlinde................Rosina Van Dyck
Rossweisse..............Clara Koch-Böhm [Debut]
Schwertleite............Paula Wöhning
Siegrune................Elizabeth Clark [Debut]
Waltraute...............Louise Homer

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

Unsigned review in the Philadelphia evening Star

"DIE WALKUERE" SPLENDIDLY DONE

A Great Cast and a Great Performance of 'First' Work of Trilogy

HERTZ AGAIN DOMINATES


Brünnhilde lies asleep on the summit of the Valkyr's rock, surrounded by the fires, which Loge called up at the bidding of Wotan and there she will lie in magic sleep for many years until a hero is born who will be brave enough to seek her and wake her with a kiss. It is much the same way with the world, which, so far as a solution of its economic and higher social problems is concerned is plunged deep in the sleep of ignorance and will only be awakened to life by the kiss of knowledge bestowed on it by an intellectual hero who will first dare to mount the great heights, overcoming all obstacles and then dare to brave the fires of superstition and prejudice which surround it and awaken it to a new life.

And this is to say that last night at the Academy of Music we heard again the wistful music of the Volsungs, the still more wistful music of Sieglinde's love, the curious abstraction of the death music and the vague fate theme, the gloom of Hunding and over all these the defiant triumph of the sword and the challenging summons of the Valkyr's cry-the latter to be saddened and silenced by the command of Wotan resolved in the dreamy and beautiful sleep motiv intermingled with the crinkling, leaping flames of the fire music and dignified by the prophetic suggestion of the theme of Siegfried, guardian of the sword, the hero.

It was a splendid performance of "Die Walküre" and one to challenge comparison with those of the old days although, like the performance of "Das Rheingold," which preceded it, its chief charm was in the ensemble rather than in the virtuosity of any of the artists in the cast. Hertz again dominated and triumphed. He ran through the score without any doubt, hesitation or laboring for effect and he got all the effects he desired by boldly demanding them of the orchestra at the necessary moment. He startled some by the rapidity and lack of lyricism with which he passed over the spring song and he hustled through the Ride in a way that put the horses of the Wish Maidens to a full gallop and made the Valkyrs' voices only a part of the composition-as was intended by the composer. The whole effect was inspiring and delightful. There was no sense of dragging and interest was kept on a keen edge at all times.

Berta Morena, as Sieglinde, attracted great attention by her personal charm and appearance. She acted the role well but there is in her voice, at times, a disagreeable quality which greatly mars her performance. Gadski had a veritable triumph as Brünnhilde. This wonderful artist improves as the years pass over her head, and as she fails to age or even to grow stouter as is the custom with singers, growing thinner instead, so does she manage to retain all her vocal charm and last night she gave us a Brünnhilde worthy of the best traditions of the role. She was particularly good in her last scene with Wotan when she sang that wonderful music of the farewell and she put into the Valkyrie 's cry, at the [start] of the Second Act, all the attack and brilliancy that could be desired.

Anthes, the Siegmund, gave a very satisfactory performance of the role of the ill-fated Volsung. His tenor is of good quality and quite adequate to this role. He got all that was desirable out of the First Act, playing it well and with due regard to the subtleties all through. In the "Northung! Northung!" cry, his voice was lacking in sufficient volume, but so also, have been found to be almost all the artists who essay this role, leaving a solitary and brilliant exception of Krause when he was at his best.

Anthes sang the spring song as Hertz read it, without regard to any lyric beauty it might possess, which, while not as we always have had it, seemed not unreasonable. Both he and Morena excelled in the pictures they made at all times. Soomer was again heard as Wotan and this time to even better advantage than before. His voice is a splendid organ, rich, deep and sonorous. He sang the music of the Farewell and Those Beauteous eyes with most telling effect while he acted the role throughout with careful attention to tradition and with such histrionism as added considerably to the general effect, It is to be regretted that he does not put the spear from the world ash carved with the runes of world wisdom to more telling dramatic use.

Hinckley, the Philadelphian, sang Hunding capitally. His voice sounded bigger, richer and better than ever. He acquitted himself admirably in the role. Excess of modesty prevented his responding to the calls when the other actors came down at the end of the Second Act although he had a right to do so. Homer made a Fricka such as we seldom have. She sang the music well, acted better, if that be possible. She carried off the scolding scene in the Second Act with decided brilliancy and held the interest of the audience throughout. She also sang the difficult music of Waltraute in the Third Act capitally, aiding in lifting up that scene. The others of the wish maidens also acquitted themselves satisfactorily and the difficult scene in which they took part went off with unusual dash and attack.

There was a larger audience than that at the "Rheingold" performance and it was a Wagner audience throughout. There were more scores, more Lavignacs and fewer librettos than are often to be seen at a performance of grand opera.



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