[Met Performance] CID:55260
United States Premiere
Der Rosenkavalier {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/9/1913.

(Debut: Alfred Sappio
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 9, 1913
United States Premiere


DER ROSENKAVALIER {1}
R. Strauss-Hofmannsthal

Octavian.....................Margarete Ober
Princess von Werdenberg......Frieda Hempel
Baron Ochs...................Otto Goritz
Sophie.......................Anna Case
Faninal......................Hermann Weil
Annina.......................Marie Mattfeld
Valzacchi....................Albert Reiss
Italian Singer...............Carl Jörn
Marianne.....................Rita Fornia
Mahomet......................Ruth Weinstein
Princess' Major-domo.........Pietro Audisio
Orphan.......................Louise Cox
Orphan.......................Rosina Van Dyck
Orphan.......................Sophie Braslau
Milliner.....................Jeanne Maubourg
Animal Vendor................Alfred Sappio [Debut]
Notary.......................Basil Ruysdael
Leopold......................Ludwig Burgstaller
Faninal's Major-domo.........Lambert Murphy
Innkeeper....................Julius Bayer
Police Commissioner..........Carl Schlegel

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

Director.....................Franz Hörth
Set Designer.................Hans Kautsky
Costume Designer.............Alfred Roller

Der Rosenkavalier received eleven performances this season.

[The program for the premiere did not list Sappio as the Animal Vendor, but since he sang all subsequent performances of the role during this season, he probably appeared on the first night as well.]

[Metropolitan Opera programs have almost always referred to the Marschallin as the Princess von Werdenberg.]

Review of Max Smith in The New York American

The first novelty of the Metropolitan Opera Company's season is safely launched. New Yorkers have been initiated into the mysteries of all of Richard Strauss's lyric dramas except his latest, "Ariadne auf Naxos." That score, perhaps, will have its turn in due time. But the big lyric theatre on Broadway is not the proper place for a work of light calibre. If much of the charm of "Der Rosenkavalier" goes to waste in the huge auditorium, how would the more delicate comedy fare in a frame designed for big musical canvasses, not for dainty miniatures.

To say that "Der Rosenkavalier" won immediate favor in this city would be far from the truth. Last Tuesday's audience showed unmistakable signs of apathy, though the customary demonstrations of an operatic premiere-the numerous curtain calls, the distribution of laurel wreaths and flowers-were not neglected. Many persons felt bored after the first half hour of the performance and expressed themselves in terms emphatic. Musical connoisseurs and professional critics in general, were by no means elated. Yet the prevailing feeling, even among those to whom the music of Strauss is a bitter pill seemed to reflect genuine gratitude for the privilege of hearing an opera that an institution like the Metropolitan Opera House ought not to ignore.

Time was, not long ago, when every new work of consequence which happened to displease a small group of Philistine listeners-and most works of consequence did-become the target of venomous assaults. So bitterly did a few narrow-minded arbiters of taste oppose the introduction of all significant novelties that they aimed their shafts even at the men who, impelled by a high sense of duty, tried to keep the public in touch with the latest developments in the musical world.

It is unlikely that Dr. Karl Muck will ever forget the treatment he received when he opened for us the pages of Bruckner's eighth and ninth symphonies and of Claude Debussy's "La Mer," and the Boston conductor was only one among many who had to accept vituperation in return for valuable services rendered. But happily a change has come. Giulio Gatti-Casazza was not subjected to abuse for producing "Der Rosenkavalier"; Alfred Hertz was not held up to ridicule for devoting so much time and energy to preparing the work for performance. The general manager, the conductor, and all the collaborating artists received ample reward for their efforts in terms of appreciation. Whether Strauss's music and Hofmannsthal's libretto gave unalloyed pleasure or not, made no material difference. Every one joined hands in acknowledging that the Metropolitan Opera Company had fulfilled a real obligation toward the people to whom it owes its existence, and had fulfilled it well.

As far as the performance itself is concerned, however, praise was almost too generous. Spectacularly, to be sure, it met every demand. Giulio Gatti-Casazza always can be counted on to provide the very best in the way of scenery and costumes, and Edward Siedle, the technical director of the stage, is a master of his craft. But despite elaborate preparations extending through many weeks, despite a large enough number of orchestra rehearsals to put a heavy tax on the expense account of the opera house, full justice was not done to Strauss's score as any competent musician who has heard the music in Berlin under the direction of Dr. Muck or the composer himself must know.

With Richard Strauss's manner of interpreting his own scores, New Yorkers are not unfamiliar. The writer recalls distinctly his "Heldenleben" in Carnegie Hall. It was not an impeccable performance from a technical point of view. Unquestionably Strauss would have obtained quite different results from the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Even with the Wetzler Orchestra, however, which was not properly prepared for the task, he gave that gigantic tone-poem an exceedingly clear, transparent and delicately refined exposition, presenting the thematic content of the his score as sharply almost to the ear as the pages of the Partiture reveal it to the eye, reducing the turmoil and noise of the instrumental battle scene, which we had become accustomed to hear as a shrieking, roaring and clashing melee of cacophonies, to the point where the grinding dissonances ceased to torture the ear.

If the Metropolitan Opera House orchestra, under Alfred Hertz, were to play the score of "Der Rosenkavalier" with the dynamic balance, the clarity, the euphony, the delicacy, the precision and the rhythmical intensity which it requires, a single hearing would disclose beauties of thematic workmanship, of instrumental color, of poetic fancy, of emotional expression, which only those listeners could have appreciated altogether last week whose imagination had been fortified by previous study of the music.
Presumably, however, the performances will improve with every repetition. Distinctly the most satisfying individual achievement was Frieda Hempel's portrayal of the Field Marshal's wife, one that takes rank with the most completely artistic impersonations on the contemporary operatic stage.

Impressive, too, was Margarete Ober's embodiment of Octavian, though one could not avoid the thought that a daintier and more puerile interpretation of the role would have come nearer to the composer's ideal. Better things, however, may be expected from Otto Goritz, who apparently has not quite found himself in the character of Ochs, and of Miss Anna Case, whose physical strength has been severely taxed by the strain of preparatory practice.


Production photos of Der Rosenkavalier by White Studio.



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