[Met Performance] CID:58900
Fidelio {40} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/30/1915.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 30, 1915 Matinee
Revised production


Leonore.................Margarete Matzenauer
Florestan...............Jacques Urlus
Don Pizarro.............Otto Goritz
Rocco...................Carl Braun
Marzelline..............Elisabeth Schumann
Jaquino.................Albert Reiss
Don Fernando............Arthur Middleton
First Prisoner..........Max Bloch
Second Prisoner.........Robert Leonhardt

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

Director................Loomis Taylor
Set Designer............Anton Brioschi
Set Designer............Alfred Roller
Costume Designer........Alfred Roller
Costume Designer........Blaschke & Cie

Fidelio received six performances this season.

[There was a new set for the final scene.]

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun:

It is not too much to say that "Fidelio" is the great ancestor of "Tannhauser," "Lohengrin" and "Der Fliegende Hollaender." But the historical importance of an opera counts for nothing with the audience which goes to hear it. The only question for the living listener is whether the music still possesses vitality, whether the great emotional climaxes have yet some of that splendid power to stir the imagination and to move the heart which their first hearers must have felt. It can safely be said that any listener who drinks in the music of "Fidelio" without preconceived notions as to what it ought to be or hostility to it because it does not resemble other opera music must be aware that he is in the presence of one of the noblest utterances of genius that ever proclaimed itself across footlights. The message of the music was not lost yesterday. It would be idle to say that the performance was one realizing all ideals; but it was so sincere in its approach to the shrine of Beethoven's spirit and so carefully prepared in its plan of interpretation that despite a few shortcomings it made a profound Impression.

Mme. Matzenauer, who sang the chief role for the first time here, is not perfectly qualified for the part either in voice or appearance, yet she conquered most of her disabilities by the beauty of her conception and the emotional quality of its presentation. The love, courage and strength of Leonore were not missing from her impersonation. Her "Abscheulicher" had excellence of style and depth of feeling in its favor, albeit the voice was hard pressed to compass the wide range and grand phraseology of the number. In the quartet of the first scene Mme. Matzenauer sang especially well, though here the first honors undeniably fell to Miss Schumann, whose Marzelline was admirable and decidedly the best thing the young singer has done here. The other members of the cast, who brought to their tasks the earnestness found in the whole representation were Mr. Urlus as Florestan, Mr. Goritz as Pizzaro, Mr. Braun as Rocco, Mr. Reiss as Jacquino, and Mr. Middleton as the Minister. The choruses were especially good, and Mr. Hertz conducted with much style and ability.

Review of Richard Aldrich in The New York Times:

For the first time in six years Beethoven's opera, "Fidelio," was given at the Metropolitan Opera House at yesterday's matinee. It was under the direction of Mr. Hertz. The last performance of it had been heard there under Gustav Mahler in the season of 08-09, when there was only one; and the season before it had been given three times in a production newly studied under his direction after the manner in which he had previously produced it at the Imperial Opera of Vienna, where it had been considered to be one of his most noteworthy achievements.

The inclusion of 'Fidelio" in the season's repertory at the Metropolitan must be set down to the credit of the management as a work of piety and disinterested idealism. For though Beethoven's opera has a place in the affections of music-lovers all its own and different from that of any other lyric drama, it has never been what is regarded by operatic managers as a "success." It was not one in Beethoven's lifetime, when he himself launched its career and when he labored grievously over successive revisions of its score for subsequent productions in the hope of fitting it to the demands of managers and public. There has always been needed a certain amount of effort to keep it upon the stage.

And yet the opera represents some of the greatest and most heartfelt of Beethoven's inspiration; its greatest moments are among the greatest moments in all lyric drama. Nothing in all musical literature makes a more poignant appeal to the heart or penetrates more deeply to the innermost springs of human emotion, nor has music often been used with a touch so unerring in dramatic characterization. Its eloquence at its highest is supreme, and its beauty is not staled by lapse of time or the passing of operatic fashion.

Accusations have been laid against the fundamental contradiction and conventionality of its form-spoken dialogue mingled with song and recitative; or against the treatment, as symphonic rather than dramatic, to which the orchestra is sometimes subjected in it; or against the "instrumental" method at times of writing for the voices; or against the anti-climax of the final scene. But they have all been more or less invalidated, and they have been powerless against the essential greatness, nobility and beauty of the work, into which Beethoven poured his very heart's blood. It was fitting that Mr. Gatti-Casazza should make it a point of pride and of duty to set this opera again before the public of the Metropolitan Opera House.

The opera as it was given yesterday had reminders of the performances heard under Mr. Mahler's direction. An obvious feature of it was the use of the same scenic setting, provided by the noted Viennese scene painter, Prof. Roller. In some respects this is an innovation. It is devised to meet the innovation by which the first act is presented in two scenes, with the curtain dropped between them, instead of one, taking place in the prison courtyard. The quick march movement in the orchestra, heralding the entrance of the troops, is used as an interlude for the shifting of these scenes. Instead of playing the great overture called "Leonore" No. 3 between the two acts, consequently before the great climax in the dungeon, of which it in some sort furnishes a foreshadowing and an epitome, Mr. Hertz, as Mr. Mahler did, played it after that scene and before the final scene in the presence of the Minister. The scenic pictures all renew the admiration aroused by them when they were first disclosed, for their vividness and appropriateness.

The performance was, on the whole, one of merit, with certain features of great excellence. Mme. Matzenauer was the Fidelio, and gave of her best in it. It is one of the most successful impersonations she has disclosed to this public. There was the convincing expression of grief-stricken longing and anxiety, tenderness and heartfelt pathos; there was something of the thrilling and moving power of the great moments of the 'Abscheulicher' aria and the scene in the dungeon. Mme. Matzenauer sang with abundant power and dramatic expression, and yet without the exaggeration that has marked some of her recent singing, She presented a figure of more fitting proportions than, perhaps, had been expected by some.

There may be more praise given to Mr. Urlus's singing as Florestan than he has sometimes merited in music requiring style and finish, and his acting showed forth the piteous plight of the prisoner. Mme. Schumann was acceptable as Marcellina, though she did not quite give all the beauty of vocal quality in her songs that might have been expected. Mr. Goritz as Don Pizarro was, as he was in the previous performances, a melodramatic villain of the deepest dye, and sang the music in a manner appropriate to such an outward semblance. Mr. Reiss, too, was remembered as the Jacquino of former years, who well met the not very great exactions of the part. There should be praise for Mr. Braun's characteristic representation of the jailer, Rocco, and for his excellent singing.

Mr. Hertz's conducting was marked by zeal and devotion and a purpose to disclose all the beauty and power of the masterpiece. The "Leonore" overture was admirably played and made a deep impression upon the audience, provoking prolonged applause which for spontaneity and enthusiasm is not often heard for an instrumental piece in the opera. By no means the same praise can be given to the performance of the "Fidelio" overture before the opera. The concerted vocal numbers which have so important a part in the structure and musical significance of "Fidelio" were sung with finish and expression; the quartet in the first act, the chorus of prisoners, the duet, the trio and the quartet, which succeeded each other in the dungeon scene, were made to give that wonderful passage their share of the ever-increasing dramatic power and impressiveness.

Photograph of Jacques Urlus as Florestan and Margarete Matzenauer as Leonore in Fidelio by White Studio.

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