[Met Performance] CID:61030
Götterdämmerung {85} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/18/1915.

(Debuts: Julia Heinrich, Artur Bodanzky, Jan Heythekker

Metropolitan Opera House
November 18, 1915


Brünnhilde..............Melanie Kurt
Siegfried...............Jacques Urlus
Gunther.................Hermann Weil
Gutrune.................Julia Heinrich [Debut]
Hagen...................Carl Braun
Waltraute...............Margarete Matzenauer
Woglinde................Lenora Sparkes
Wellgunde...............Rita Fornia
Flosshilde..............Lila Robeson

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky [Debut]

Director................Jan Heythekker [Debut]
Set Designer............Hans Kautsky

Götterdämmerung received three performances this season.

Review of Algernnon St. John-Brennon in the Telegraph


Opera Given in Short Form

"Götterdammerung" was performed last night at the Metropolitan Opera House with the new German conductor, Mr. Arthur Bodanzky, conducting Wagner's sublime music.

This journal has pleaded for many years that under the conditions prevailing in New York, conditions that have something to do with the state of artistic taste or ambition in the city, it is Quixotic to attempt to give the larger Wagner operas in full. But neither Mr. Alfred Hertz nor Mr. Arturo Toscanini would consent to reduce the scores that that they could be performed within the hours in which it was possible for the majority to hear them. The late Gustav Mahler, when he was here some years ago, very wisely took a step in the direction of common sense. But if he played the part of Herr Cut, Mr. Hertz, on Mahler's departure, immediately assumed that of Herr Restorer, and for years the cause of Wagnerism suffered materially from the misplaced and Quixotic devotion of its friends.

Mr. Bodanzky has express himself very lucidly on the subject in the "Craftsman." He says:

"I feel that in America the opera must be somewhat adjusted to the lives of the people, of all the people, not only the aristocracy, but the hard-working people, who seem to be very serious music lovers here. Of course, the utmost cutting will not mean making short operas of "Tristan," "Götterdammerung," and "Rosenkavalier," although in the later I believe a lover's time can be saved and with advantage. My aim is to shorten the opera only where the cut cannot be manifest, scarcely revealed. Originally the German operas were written for people who gave whole days to the joy of an operatic performance, as is done today at Bayreuth. The production of an opera in Wagner's time was a festival occasion. There was no thought of adjusting it to dinner hours or work hours; the people adjusted their lives to the wonderful opportunity and joy of the great music. It is a little different in Germany today and totally different in America."

There will be screams of protest from the ultra-Wagnerians especially, those who never attend any operatic performance except 'Pagliacci;" but it will soon be realized that Mr. Bodanzky initiated last night a most sensible reform.

Mme. Melanie Kurt was heard as Brünnhilde and Mr. Jacques Urlus, as Siegfried. Miss Julia Heinrich sang the role of Gutrune for the first time.

It is related of one of the most accomplished songstresses now in New York that when she heard Mr. Bodanzky conduct the "Trauermarsch" from this opera recently at rehearsal she was so overcome with tragic emotions that she went home hysterical. It is also recorded of the philosopher Confucius that upon hearing a certain melody he was so affected that that he could not eat or drink for three months. Now, while nothing in the conducting of "Götterdammerung" last night appealed to me in extremes so poignant, it is pleasant to record that Mr. Bodanzky made more than a favorable impression upon the general and the judicious alike. It is not to be forgotten that we have heard admirable representations at the hands of his predecessors, and it would be ungracious to forget them now. But the abilities of the new Wagnerian conductor, as brought to light by the single performance, are unquestioned. He has mastered his music, and his scheme of interpretation has at once vigor and equi-poise. He commands the respect of his audience.

The most powerful incident of the interpretation was Mme. Matzenauer's Waltraute. The scene is not the most interesting one in the opera, and there are those whose patience it has severely tried. But Matzenauer, with her "God-gifted organ voice" gave it tragic urgency and pathos. No one else in the cast rose to these heights, or I must have met the fate of Confucius after all. Mme. Melanie Kurt's Bruennhilde was a sturdy and earnest piece of singing and acting. The same may be said of Jacques Urlus's Siegfried, and Mr. Hermann Weil's Gunther. The choruses were spiritedly handled, both in action and in song. The representatives moved most smoothly and the scenic illusions were prosperously articulated. We wish Mr. Bodanzky well for the future.

Photograph of Artur Bodanzky by Herman Mishkin.

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