[Met Performance] CID:54513
New Production
Die Zauberflöte {27} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/23/1912.

(Debuts: Vera Curtis, Ethel Parks, Edward Lankow, Paul Althouse
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 23, 1912 Matinee
New production


DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE {27}
Mozart-Schikaneder

Pamina..................Emmy Destinn
Tamino..................Leo Slezak
Queen of the Night......Ethel Parks [Debut]
Sarastro................Edward Lankow [Debut]
Papageno................Otto Goritz
Papagena................Bella Alten
Monostatos..............Albert Reiss
Speaker.................Putnam Griswold
First Lady..............Vera Curtis [Debut]
Second Lady.............Florence Mulford
Third Lady..............Louise Homer
Genie...................Lenora Sparkes
Genie...................Anna Case
Genie...................Marie Mattfeld
Priest..................Lambert Murphy
Priest..................Louis Kreidler
Priest..................Julius Bayer
Guard...................Paul Althouse [Debut]
Guard...................Basil Ruysdael

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

Director................Anton Schertel
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Costume designer........Georg Heil

Die Zauberflöte received ten performances this season.

From the review (unsigned) in the Evening Post

Important as the spectacular aspect of this opera may be, the musical side is infinitely more so; and while Saturday's presentation surpassed all its predecessors in this country as a feast for the eyes, it was not musically on the highest level in all respects. The vocal stars of the performance were Emmy Destinn, Leo Slezak, Putnam Griswold, and last, but very far from least, Otto Goritz. The three debutants, Ethel Parka as the Queen of the Night, Vera Curtis as the first lady, and Edward Lankow as Sarastro did not make a profound impression.

Madame Destinn's most cordial admirers must have been surprised at her superb delivery of Pamina's difficult music. Frequently Mozart writes phrase after phrase of cruelly high notes for Pamina, but Mme, Destinn's voice showed no signs of fatigue, no wavering from the pitch. The high notes, whether pianissimo or forte, were equally easy to her and apart from this, the more musical side of it, her breadth of phrasing, her beautiful legato, her complete comprehension of Mozart's style, must have rejoiced all lovers of fine singing.

Mr. Slezak was a worthy Tamino to this admirable Pamina. He was a surprise in this lyric role, for New York has regarded him more as a dramatic artist than as a singer of the old type. He sang with purity and beauty of tone, with no effort in pushing his voice into the upper register, and he made the most, dramatically also, out of an ungrateful part, The music is admirable, but who can really feel sympathy for a giant like Mr. Slezak, who is terrified by a snake that "ladies" are not afraid of, or for a man in the throes of ridiculous initiation ceremonies? So Mr. Slezak deserves all the more credit for rising above these absurdities. The three lady snake-killers were Miss Vera Curtis, Miss Florence Mulford, and Mme. Homer. The second and third ladies were good, but it seems as if the management might easily have found a soprano for the first part who could sing the upper notes in tune.

The rôle of the Queen of the Night is approached with fear and trembling by even the greatest coloratura sopranos, it is so very difficult. The singer has no time to warm up the voice for either of her two difficult airs. It cannot be said that Ethel Parka's attempt to fill the part went much beyond the realm of the amateurish, though she showed courage and no doubt did her best. She sings on the key, in a still small voice, and has natural staccato, but little else of the necessary qualifications for a singer at the Metropolitan. It seems sad that, with Marcella Sembrich a few miles away, she could not be heard once more in this short, but brilliant, rôle - brilliant that is, for a singer who is equal to it. Why was not Mme. Tetrazzini engaged to do this part until Frieda Hempel arrives?

Mr. Lankow, the Sarastro, has a real basso profundo, and sinks to the depths with ease. This does no, however, seem to be the only qualification necessary to sing Sarastro. Mozart's music demands singing of the highest order and, to critical ears, accuracy of pitch is another necessity. All singers vary slightly at times from perfect pitch, but Mr. Lankow's frequent flatting seems to indicate a more serious defect than nervousness or some similar cause. One could not but sigh in recalling the appearances of Edouard de Reszke and Plançon in this role. Mr. Griswold sang his small part so admirably that it made one wonder why it was necessary to go to Boston for a Sarastro. Mr. Hinshaw is another local bass who would have sung this rôle better than the newcomer.

Bella Alten and Mr. Reiss in their small parts made the most of them. Miss Alten was a lively and amusing little Papagena and Mr. Reiss a delightfully absurd Monostatos, quite unrecognizable in his make-up of black paint and fantastic costume. The other small parts were filled adequately by Miss Sparkes, Miss Case, Mme. Mattfeld, Lambert Murphy, Louis Kreidler and Julius Bayer.

With Papageno Otto Goritz scored another great success, and legitimately won the first place in the cast. When he is in it, the name of the opera might as well be changed to "Papageno." He looks like a gigantic, jolly baby, scantily arrayed in blue and red feathers, and he keeps the audience constantly amused while he is on the stage by his fun, his dancing, his interpolated nonsense. One of his funniest speeches was after his first short glimpse of Papagena, who is snatched away from him by a meddling priest who considers Papageno still unworthy of his mate. In indignant tones Goritz bewails the interference with his "family affairs," to the amusement of those who understand German. Another most amusing episode is the scene of his proposed suicide by hanging. Unable to find Papagena, he concludes life is a dreary waste and make preparations to leave it. However, he will still make an attempt to find his mate. He will call three times on his whistle. The first five-note call is quick and bird-like. The second is much slower. The third is funereal, one note at a time, and he stops in the middle to gasp "two and a half." On the final note he dwells with the persistence of a third-rate tenor. Papagena being still invisible, he proceeds dolefully with the hanging; but the genii save him, and his Papagena appears at the call of his magic bells.

Better even than his acting is his beautiful singing. Mr. Goritz is one of the few artists who is equally at home in all styles Those who had heard his Beckmeeser only could never suspect the beauty of tone which he is capable, or the purity and simplicity of style which he has at his command. He has improved greatly both as singer and actor since last he appeared it this rôle before a New-York audience.

There were more giants at the Metropolitan in the good old times than there are now. It takes one's breath away to read the casts of those days. On March 30, 1900 under the management of that great star lover, Maurice Grau "The Magic Flute" was sung by Sembrich, Ternina, Mantelli, Bridewell, Zelie de Lussan, Suzanne Adams, Eleanor Broadfoot, Olitzka, Emma Eames, Dippel, Campanari, Pini-Corsi, Muhlmann and Plançon. On January 27, 1902, the cast included Sembrich, Ternina, Homer, Bridewell, Fritzi Scheff, Emma Eames (who is today as good a singer as she ever was), Dippel, Campanari, Reiss, Dufriche, and Edouard de Reszke. These casts indeed, do call for exclamation points.

The German repertory at the Metropolitan has suffered for some years from monotonous repetition of the same works. It must, therefore, have been a real relief to the singers to have a change to Mozart; a relief also, to Mr. Hertz, who conducted the score with refinement and evident enthusiasm, The chorus as well as the orchestra was admirable in its sonority and shading. Praise is also due the stage mechanician for the adroit manner in which the scene changes were manipulated.



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