[Met Performance] CID:86190
Siegfried {126} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/2/1924.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 2, 1924 Matinee


SIEGFRIED {126}
Wagner-Wagner

Siegfried...............Curt Taucher
Brünnhilde..............Florence Easton
Wanderer................Clarence Whitehill
Erda....................Margarete Matzenauer
Mime....................George Meader
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................William Gustafson
Forest Bird.............Thalia Sabanieeva

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

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Hans Kautsky

Siegfried received two performances this season.


Review signed P. C. R. in Musical America

Siegfried Slays Dragon Again at the Metropolitan

The policy of gradualness adopted by the Metropolitan Opera in the restoration of the Wagnerian repertory brought a day of gladness last week. Some more of Hans Kautsky's scenery was taken out of storage, dusted and hung, and, everything being in readiness by Saturday afternoon, "Siegfried" came back. This was the second Wagner revival of the season, "Die Meistersinger" having been reintroduced in November last. Two of the great music-dramas still remain on the shelf, and both belong to the "Ring" series. Perhaps next year will see "Rheingold" and "Götterdämmerung" restored. At any rate, this is the prayer of the Wagnerites who have clamored for the complete cycle ever since the peace began.

"Siegfried" had not been heard at the Metropolitan since America went to war, but it was sung in New York last year by the German Opera Company in presentations of the "Ring." The impatient were satisfied for a time by these performances, but they must have felt more at ease when Artur Bodanzky gave the signal for the Prelude on Saturday afternoon. For once the first growling utterance of the Dragon Motive was robbed of its sinister import, for it sounded an assurance that the young dragon slayer had returned to stay and that he would be seen in action each season for many a year to come. This production by Mr. Gatti-Casazza's company was something to please the exacting, and certainly it was one of the most impressive of the Wagnerian revivals. It moved majestically, with dignity, and its mightiness stirred the audience to enthusiasm.

Curt Taucher was a Siegfried of adequate voice and heroic bearing. Always he was convincing in his picture of reckless youth, laughing at dragons, impatient of restraints imposed by the old gods, fearful of nothing until he found love upon the mountain-top.
Early in the first act Mr. Taucher caught the keynote of his Siegfried. He was excellent in his encounters with Mime, and spiritedly he delivered the Sword Song and the subsequent scene of the forging of Nothung. He seemed to feel the naïveté of the impetuous boy, and his impersonation had a genuine freshness. The episodes in the forest were admirably done. Siegfried, listening to the birds, trying his reed pipe and tooting upon his horn, is sometimes a ridiculous figure, but there was nothing ridiculous about this new hero. There was a delightful touch of comedy in his boyish petulance.

When he fought with the dragon, his enthusiasm and vigor gave life to the performance. The steam-belching nostrils and the green electric eyes of the terrible beast were feasible because of the earnestness of this Siegfried, and the whole affair was managed very well, even if it did take place in the background. It was when he came upon Brünnhilde that Mr. Taucher accomplished his finest work. To hold the audience after the thrilling music that accompanies the climb up the fiery mountain is no mean task, but the scene between Florence Easton, as the awakened Valkyrie, and Mr. Taucher was memorable as one of the brightest achievements of the afternoon.

Florence Easton as Brünnhilde

Any Siegfried would be inspired by such a Brünnhilde. Mme. Easton was magnificent. This artist's extraordinary versatility frequently moves one to wonder. There seems to be nothing in opera that Mme. Easton cannot do. Everything she does well, and most things she does with superb art. Now she adds an unforgettable Brünnhilde to her amazing record. The scene of the awakening was very beautifully acted, and the passionate song in which the war-maiden realizes that she has put off her divinity for the joy of love was a triumph for the artist. All the fine, clear music of Mme. Easton's voice was given to those phrases. It soared to the echo of the Valkyrie's cry and rang out with entrancing tone above the turbulent orchestra. There was poignant quality in her song, first in the lament that she might ride no more with her companions and then in the gladness of her love for Siegfried.

Clarence Whitehill's Wanderer is a familiar figure, but in this revival it seemed to have gained in dignity and richness of voice. Mr. Whitehill was splendid in the scene of the questions with Mime and again in the episode with Erda. This Erda was equipped with the opulent voice of Margaret Matzenauer, and seldom has Mme. Matzenauer sung with more beauty of tone or dramatic expressiveness. It is a part of limited opportunities, but the artist was impressively majestic and made an important contribution to the production.

The indefatigable and valuable George Meader was Mime, and although his earnestness was a little apparent at times, generally he did well; certainly he sang well. Gustav Schützendorf as Alberich was sufficiently explosive to indicate the ferocious temper of the dwarf, and William Gustafson, with magnified voice, made Fafner an articulate dragon. The music of the Forest Bird was allotted to Thalia Sabanieva.

Mr. Bodanzky kept things admirably balanced in the orchestra pit; in fact, the orchestral performance was one of the finest of the season. The Forest Murmurs scene was beautifully played and the Fire Spell was a thrilling drama in tone. This "Siegfried" revival is altogether a striking achievement.



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