[Met Performance] CID:56960
Lohengrin {285} Metropolitan Opera House: 04/23/1914.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
April 23, 1914


LOHENGRIN {285}

Lohengrin...............Rudolf Berger
Elsa....................Olive Fremstad [Last performance]
Ortrud..................Louise Homer
Telramund...............Otto Goritz
King Heinrich...........Herbert Witherspoon
Herald..................Carl Schlegel
Noble...................Julius Bayer
Noble...................Ludwig Burgstaller
Noble...................Adolf Fuhrmann
Noble...................Marcel Reiner
Page....................Louise Cox
Page....................Rosina Van Dyck
Page....................Veni Warwick
Page....................Adele Giordano

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


Review: Account and appreciation by Pitts Sanborn in the Globe:

Mme. Fremstad, who is retiring from the Metropolitan Opera company at the end of this season made her final appearance in opera on the Metropolitan stage last evening. The opera was "Lohengrin" and Mme. Fremstad took the part of Elsa. The cast included also Mrs. Homer, Mr. Berger, Mr. Goritz, and Mr. Witherspoon. The conductor was Mr. Hertz. A very large audience gathered for the occasion. After the second act there were some twenty recalls, most of which Mme. Fremstad took alone, and armfuls of flowers were carried to her. Finally, in tones that were clear, though shaken with feeling, she made a brief speech of farewell, in which she thanked the public, declaring that she had lived for the one purpose of giving it her best, and ending with the pious hope that we shall all meet eventually in the place where peace and harmony prevail.

At the end of the opera there was another demonstration which lasted for nearly half an hour. The number of times Mme. Fremstad came out to bow seemed countless. Thrice the asbestos curtain was lowered and then raised again in response to the cheer for the departing singer. It took the turning down of the lights to end this unprecedented scene. Incidentally, it is worth noting that Mme. Fremstad had probably not been in such good voice this year.

In losing Mme. Fremstad the Metropolitan Opera Company loses a woman whom some of us would have no hesitation in pronouncing the greatest artist among its singing actors. Beauty of face and figure, rare musical gifts, a high dramatic intelligence, and that vitalizing quality we call temperament have combined in this woman as they seldom do to make of her a mistress of operatic expression. Mme. Fremstad's qualities won immediate recognition when she made her début at the Metropolitan in the autumn of 1903 as Sieglinde in "Die Walküre." That recognition has expanded into fame, and with fame has come the gratitude of all who care greatly for art.

It is with the heroines of the Wagner music dramas that Mme. Fremstad is particularly associated here. Her Brünnhilde has an unforgettable individuality, whether in the youth, now jubilant, now crushed to earth of "Die Walküre"; the heroic joy, and the expression, perhaps unique, of the tragic undertone in even the most exuberant joy, of "Siegfried;" or the impassioned grandeur, the sublimity of "Götterdämmerung." Her Isolde is a figure of grave and sombre beauty, a princess whose dignity is not assured, but the expression of a strong and imperious nature-not a tragedy queen, but a regal and impassioned woman.

Her Sieglinde might be a real inhabitant of an ancient forest, a woman of primal instincts and sorrows. Her Venus, in her seduction and in her rage, never ceases to be a goddess. Her Kundry, incomparable in the sheer allurement of sex as she woos Parsifal in Kingsor's garden, becomes the redeemed Kundry almost sullen in her voiceless service until Parsifal kisses her and then her tears show the price she has paid for repentance. Those are her most famous Wagner rôles, but in "Lohengrin" as last night she has revealed the most pathetic and poetic Elsa of our time; her Elisabeth, seen here but once this year, is another beautiful figure, and there is her majestic Fricka is "Das Rheingold." And it should not be forgotten that on a single occasion, her first season here, before she had ever undertaken Isolde, she did one Saturday night an excellent Brängäne, when her great predecessor, Milka Ternina, was the Isolde.

Although known to New York chiefly as a Wagner singer, Mme. Fremstad has had other triumphs here, notably her magnificent impersonation of the title rôle in "Armide," and her Salome on the sensational occasion of the one performance of Strauss's "Salome" had at the Metropolitan. The Salome of Mme. Fremstad was the mysterious woman of the East, and incredible as it may seem, she really did sing the music of superhuman difficulty. The Carmen of Mme. Fremstad is sometimes spoken of as a failure. One would not suppose so from the newspaper reviews at the time she first did the part here. Her Floria Tosca and her Santuzza, not among her most memorable achievements, have still not lacked merit and interest.

The sincerity of Mme. Fremstad's avowal in her speech to the audience last night, "I have lived for one purpose, to give you my best; my very best," no one familiar with her work can question. She is an artist. In the heroic rôles of the Wagner music dramas she stands with Lilli Lehmann and Milka Ternina.



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