[Met Performance] CID:6480
United States Premiere
Götterdämmerung {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/25/1888.
 (United States Premiere)

Metropolitan Opera House
January 25, 1888
United States Premiere


Brünnhilde..............Lilli Lehmann
Siegfried...............Albert Niemann
Gunther.................Adolf Robinson
Gutrune.................Auguste Seidl-Kraus
Hagen...................Emil Fischer
Alberich................Rudolph Von Milde
Woglinde................Sophie Traubmann
Wellgunde...............Marianne Brandt
Flosshilde..............Louise Meisslinger

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

Director................Theodore Habelmann

Götterdämmerung received seven performances this season.

[In this season't performances of Götterdämmerung, the following music was omitted: the scene with the three Norns in the Prologue; and in Act I, Scene 3, the scene between Brünnhilde and Waltraute.]

Alternate titles: Twilight of the Gods; Die Götterdämmerung (incorrect); Goetterdaemmerung.

Review of Henry Krehbiel in the New York Tribune:

The drama itself in one of its phases excites warmer sympathy than any in the tetralogy. In it the human element becomes really active for the first time. . . . The play is full of action and, in the piling up of scenic, musical and dramatic effects, it over-tops its predecessors in the tetralogy, and forms a fitting climax and end to that wonderful creation. Its chief moment, the murder of Siegfried, is unquestionably the most impressive scene ever created by Wagner....

Ah! That death march! Where in the literature of music shall we look for its like? Let the cold-blooded analyst dissect it, tell of the phrases out of which it is built, and marvel that Siegfried's simple horn-call could be metamorphosed into so colossal a hymn as that which marks its climax. One may feel its beauty to the full without getting within this technical sway. Such knowledge, indeed, may add keenness to our appreciation, but without it we recognize music which tells of the death of a demi-god and of his deeds. We hear in it some of the wails of modern weaklings, see in it no tears of hopeless mourning. It is a grief mixed with pride in the prowess of the dead. We feel the excitement that fills the hearts of strong men bearing the corpse of a hero and, with theirs, our own blood leaps through its veins the faster, as it is stirred by the vehement rhythm of that most thrilling of all orchestral tuttis. . .

Lovely devotion, deep earnestness, trained intelligence and a high order of skill were united to make the first representation of the drama a memorable event. In two cases all of the qualities were united in a single person. They were those of Herr Seidl and Fräulein Lehmann. Lehmann's portrayal of the heroine was an achievement such as it is a happiness to witness and will remain a benediction in the memory. Here is an artist whose vocal gifts and capabilities seem as inexhaustible as her zeal. There is never a thought of self when she plunges into the emotional stream which carries Brünnhilde through the drama. To present the character, fully, vitally, to exhibit the very fibres out of which its passionate heartstrings are woven, is the task which she sets herself and, to perform it, she offers up her powers without reserve. The endurance, strength and sensuous beauty of her voice fill one with amazement when employed with such generosity as inspires her effort in the new drama. Of her companion, Herr Niemann, equal praise might be spoken so far as intelligence and earnestness of effort are concerned. But when the spirit is willing the flesh is frequently weak. Only in the climactic moments did his voice respond to the, to him, exceedingly trying demands imposed by the music, but the warmth and vigor of his declamation, the frequently effective use of varied vocal color to convey emotion, the energy and beauty of his acting, which, in the death scene sent magnetic shocks through the audience, combined to make his impersonation of Siegfried a valuable exemplification of the kind of singing and acting on which Wagner's dreams depend for their best expression. . . . The orchestra responded nobly to Herr Seidl's wishes and performed a notable work. As for Herr Seidl's part of the representation, a record of it ought to be made in the annals of music in language which would shed a lasting lustre on his name

Review in The New York Times:

The final music-drama of Wagner's Niebelungen tetealogy "Die Götterdämmerung" was performed for first time in America last night at the Metropolitan Opera House before an audience of uncommon size and brilliancy. The progress of the great work was watched with the deepest interest by all present except the occupants of one or two boxes on the left side of the auditorium, where the conversation was of an athletic and exuberant nature throughout the evening. In spite of the presence of the persons who would talk, the music-drama made a profound impression, and may be set down as one or the greatest successes is the history of the Metropolitan Opera House. The story of the drama is one of intensely tragic spirit, and is set forth with consummate skill by Wagner, who has fairly earned a place among the greatest dramatic poets.

In the Metropolitan Opera House version of "Die Götterdämmerung" the introductory scene, in which the three Norns spin the thread of fate and foretell the downfall of the gods, was omitted. This is a judicious piece of pruning, for the same is utterly without dramatic value, and is musically only a prelude. The opera is extremely long, and certain parts of it, which are dramatically necessary, are musically a bore, and Herr Seidl has shown unusual good sense in cutting these portions down. The work as made known last night, begins where "Siegfried" left off. The stage setting of the first scene is the same as that of the last scene of "Siegfried." The slayer of the dragon and his Valkyr bride come forth from the cavern in which they have been dwelling. Siegfried is no longer a boy, Brünnhilde has awakened the serious purpose of life within him. "Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself," says Tennyson's hero to the Princess Ida. Siegfried's manhood is accomplished. He comes forth now to win a name that shall make him worthy of the Valkyr's love. He leaves with Brünnhilde the ring of the Rhine gold which he took from Fafner, and sets forth in quest of new adventures.

The performance concluded at so late an hour that little can be said about it at present. It must be stated briefly that the evening was one of veritable triumph for Fräulein Lehmann, whose superb acting and singing as Brünnhilde has never been surpassed on the operatic stage in this country; for Herr Niemann, whose Siegfried was a noble piece of acting, and for Herr Seidl, who brought out with admirable skill all the beauties of the score. Herr Fischer was not in good voice; neither was Herr von Milde. Herr Robinson was a good Gunther, and Frau Kraus was tolerable as Gutrune. The three Rhine daughters were well represented by Brandt, Meisslinger, and Traubmann. Further consideration of the merits of tile performance and of the work itself must be deferred till hereafter.

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