[Met Performance] CID:8540
Rienzi {21} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/26/1890.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 26, 1890


RIENZI {21}
Wagner-Wagner

Cola Rienzi.............Julius Perotti
Irene...................Sophie Traubmann
Paolo Orsini............Joseph Beck
Adriano.................Louise Meisslinger
Stefano Colonna.........Emil Fischer
Raimondo................Conrad Behrens
Baroncelli..............Albert Mittelhauser
Cecco del Vecchio.......Jean Doré
Messenger...............Félicie Kaschowska

Conductor...............Walter Damrosch

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

Rienzi received one performance this season.

Unsigned review in The New York Times

METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE.

Wagner's "Rienzi" was sung at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening for the first time in three years. The audience was one of a tolerably good size and friendly disposition. No doubt there were many persons present bent upon testifying by their presence to a belief that if Wagner had adhered to this semi-Meyerbeerian sort of thing and not gone to experimenting with leit motives and Scandinavian deities he might have amounted to something. But to them there is a lack of satisfaction in "Rienzi," because it is not genuine Italian opera after all, but has foreshadowings of the future Wagner, who upset the flesh pots of Rossini.
For those who have learned to look upon the lyric drama as a serious art form and not a pastime, last night's performance was not without its interest, but its chief importance at this time lay in the fact that it ushered in the Wagner cycles, one of the most important events in the musical history of this country.

The performance had many merits, and was, on the whole, deserving of great praise. A little more dignity and less sentimentality in the Rienzi of the evening would have improved the impressions received by the audience, but Herr Perotti sang the music with vigor, and generally with good taste. Fraülein Meisslinger was an energetic and earnest Adriano, and sang some of her music with real force. Her timid attempt at a mustache, however, cannot be said to have added to her appearance. The Irene was Fräulein Traubmann, who sang with her clear, fresh voice in a commendable manner, but who forgot to enliven the proceedings by a little acting.

Herr Fischer was an excellent Colonna and Herr Beck a competent Orsini. Herr Behrens was acceptable as Raimondo, and Fräulein Kaschowska tolerable as the Messenger of Peace. The chorus was up to its work, and the orchestra, under Walter Damrosch's careful guidance, was efficient. The chorus in the church was sung by some of the principal artists, who distinguished themselves by finishing nearly half a tone below the organ. Due attention was paid to the opportunities for display afforded by the opera. There were statuesque Roman soldiers, who fenced with Scotch claymores, and Amazons who followed their example. The ballet disported itself in its customary agile manner, and Mlle. Urbanska exhibited her graces to the delectation of the multitude.

"Rienzi" has, as noted on Sunday, held the stage since 1842, and it seems likely that a good performance of it will attract an audience at any time during the next quarter or a century or more. But those who understand the inner spirit which controlled Richard Wagner will always look upon it as a curious creature of circumstances. Those who heard it last evening and who go to hear the "Flying Dutchman" will do well to notice how much of the tinsel and stucco of the old style Wagner rid himself of between the two works.



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