[Met Performance] CID:85970
Tannhäuser {222} Academy of Music, New York, Brooklyn: 01/15/1924.

(Review)


New York, Brooklyn
January 15, 1924


TANNHÄUSER {222}

Tannhäuser..............Rudolf Laubenthal
Elisabeth...............Delia Reinhardt
Wolfram.................Clarence Whitehill
Venus...................Margarete Matzenauer
Hermann.................Paul Bender
Walther.................George Meader
Heinrich................Max Bloch
Biterolf................Carl Schlegel
Reinmar.................William Gustafson
Shepherd................Raymonde Delaunois
Page....................Grace Anthony
Page....................Minnie Egener
Page....................Nannette Guilford
Page....................Charlotte Ryan

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky

Review of Edward Cushing in the Brooklyn Eagle

'Tannhaüser' in Brooklyn Scores With Satisfying Performance

To be subjected to controversy seems the fate of all art - all art that is of respectable proportions and a degree of worth. There have been few operas to inaugurate their careers with the sensational series of events that awaited Wagner's "Tannhaüser" at its Parisian premiere. The tale of its reception in the French capital is ancient history. Street riots are not often the portion of a musician's trade, though on occasions they have been the result of the performance of some revolutionary work.

But "Tannhaüser," even at the time of the Paris fiasco, was not iconoclastic. What the pampered Parisians disliked was Wagner's compromise with their demand that a ballet be interpolated in the opera, for Wagner, tenacious to his artistic purpose, refused to break into the dramatic action for the sake of mere spectacle, and inserted his ballet at the very beginning of the first act - before a note of music had been sung upon the stage. And a superb page it is. Here, in this bacchanal, is the later Wagner of "Tristan" and the greater dramas. The still conventional style of the original "Tannhaüser" was regarded for a more sensuous loveliness, a greater daring, a more vivid and colorful music. But the Parisians, like our modern audience, did not deem it necessary to arrive before the opera was well under way and, in consequence, missed the ballet that had been inserted at their demand. No one with more than a dilettante's interest in music would wish to miss this prelude (let us call it), finer in itself than all the music and drama that follow, for "Tannhaüser," except for occasional moments, is an operatic chestnut. The song contest and the apparition of Venus constitute its only really dramatic moments.

The production given by the Metropolitan Opera Company is satisfying in most respects, and this cast is as fine a one as could be wished for. Less throaty Tannhaüsers have been heard than that of Rudolph Laubenthal, but none who have acted the part with such artistic fervor and such understanding of its uningratiating significance. Mr. Laubenthal shows to poor advantage in the Venusberg scene. Here his tones are, for the most part, forced - he is evidently striving for the effect beyond his powers vocally. But in the duet with Elizabeth, the Song Contest and the finale of the second act he is admirable, particularly in those moments when the influence of his sojourn in the domain of Venus forces him to sing the blasphemous song.

Delia Reinhardt invested the character of Elizabeth - in which so many great singers have been heard in New York - with that charm which is its foundation. Her singing of the greeting to the hall of song was answered by well deserved applause. The Venus was, of course, Margaret Matzenauer. Clarence Whitehill is the best Wolfram that we know of, as is Bender the finest Landgraf Hermann. Other members of the cast to whom special praise should go were William Gustafson and George Meader, both familiar in their respective roles of Reinmar and Walther. Artur Bodanzky conducted the score in his usual splendid fashion. New York had last season its opportunity to hear the original version of "Tannhaüser" when it was given by the Wagnerian Festival Company, and the comparison must have served as proof that the changes and the insertion of the bacchanal that Wagner made with such reluctance immeasurably improved his work.



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