[Met Performance] CID:46240
Tannhäuser {173} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/17/1910.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 17, 1910


TANNHÄUSER {173}

Tannhäuser..............Leo Slezak
Elisabeth...............Johanna Gadski
Wolfram.................Clarence Whitehill
Venus...................Olive Fremstad
Hermann.................Allen Hinckley
Walther.................Albert Reiss
Heinrich................Julius Bayer
Biterolf................Adolph Mühlmann
Reinmar.................Frederick Gunther
Shepherd................Lenora Sparkes
Page....................Anna Case
Page....................Lillia Snelling
Page....................Lenora Sparkes
Page....................Henriette Wakefield
Dance...................Gina Torriani
Dance...................Margarete Horwitz
Dance...................Violet Tarr

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

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun

"TANNHAEUSER" WELL GIVEN

SLEZAK MAKES GOOD IMPRESSION IN THE TITLE ROLE

Wide Variety of Expression in the Russian's [sic] Singing of Wagner's Greatest Dramatic Work - Gadski's Elizabeth Never Better Than Last Night


Wagner's "Tannhäuser" was sung at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. There is nothing new as a rule in a performance of this familiar but much misunderstood work, dramatically the greatest of Wagner's great creations. Yet last night there was something new and it was more than a matter of mere record. Leo Slezak sang the title role for the first time here and, for the first time, was heard in one of those German parts which gained him fame in Vienna. It is quite safe to say that he took a little more care with his vocal treatment of the rôle than he used to at the Imperial Opera of Austria, and it is undeniable that he has learned something about pure singing since he escaped from wholly Teutonic influence.

But he brought with him to last night's representation that profound love of Wagner's work and that beautiful devotion to high dramatic ideals which are displayed mostly by singers of Teutonic training. When these are coupled with splendor of voice, skill in tone production, clear enunciation and temperament, admirable and moving results may be expected.

Mr. Slezak sang with a wide variety of expression and with many fine and significant details. For example, his second delivery of the hymn in praise of Venus was taken at a quicker tempo than the first, thus conveying the idea of the sudden stress of emotion under which the repetition was made. The exquisitely developed diminuendo in the chromatic passage of the prayer after the departure of the pilgrims in the first act was paired with a beauty of tonal color and of emotion. His exclamation, "Zu ihr, zu ihr," instead of being hurled out like a challenge, was sung with melting tenderness.

These are but a few of the artistic touches he put into his treatment of the music. His delivery as a whole was characterized by nobility of tone and style His conception of the part was compellingly human, as the drama itself is. His bearing was excellent and his gestures graphically broad. His costumes were good, but not as good as some others he has worn. However, those of last night were a remnant of days in Vienna. On the whole Mr. Slezak's impersonation of Tannhäuser was notable and it must be accorded a place on the first line of Wagnerian portraits in the rich gallery that belongs to the history of the Metropolitan Opera House. It aroused much enthusiasm in the audience.

Mme. Gadski's Elizabeth was never better than it was last night. Her voice was in its best condition and she sang her music well. Her "Dich theure Halle" was especially good, but in the ensuing scene with Tannhäuser she rose to heights of purely vocal beauty and tenderness of expression which she rarely reaches. Mme. Fremstad's Venus is always excellent, but it has at times had more vibrancy of voice than it possessed last evening.

Mr. Whitehill is a good Wolfram, but his voice seemed unusually tight and sombre in tint last evening. Miss Sparkes deserves a word of commendation for her delivery of the shepherd's song. Mr. Hinckley as the Landgrave was the other important member of the cast. The orchestra played excellently and Mr. Hertz conducted well.



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