[Met Performance] CID:89130
Die Walküre {208} Academy of Music, New York, Brooklyn: 01/27/1925.

(Review)


New York, Brooklyn
January 27, 1925


DIE WALKÜRE {208}

Brünnhilde..............Julia Claussen, Act II
Brünnhilde..............Karin Branzell, Act III
Siegmund................Curt Taucher
Sieglinde...............Maria Müller
Wotan...................Michael Bohnen
Fricka..................Karin Branzell
Hunding.................William Gustafson
Gerhilde................Phradie Wells
Grimgerde...............Marion Telva
Helmwige................Marcella Röseler
Ortlinde................Laura Robertson
Rossweisse..............Ina Bourskaya
Schwertleite............Kathleen Howard
Siegrune................Raymonde Delaunois
Waltraute...............Henriette Wakefield

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

[Claussen cancelled after Act II and was replaced as Brünnhilde by Branzell, who had sung Fricka in Act II.]

Review of Edward Cushing in the Brooklyn Eagle

MUSIC OF THE DAY

That perversity of fate that so sorely afflicted the performers of Monday's musical event persisted through last evening's "Die Walküre" at the Academy of Music, Miss Julia Claussen, who replaced Mme. Nanny Larsen-Todsen as Brünnhilde, was herself incapacitated to such an extent that all the more trying music allotted the role in the second act was cut from the performance and in the final act she was unable to sing at all. Karin Branzell, who appeared as Fricka kindly responded to the overtures of the management and sang the role of Brünnhilde through the third act. Of all this William J. Guard made due announcement to the audience.

But the result of Miss Claussen's misfortune was less unhappy than might be expected - the result, in fact, was what must stand as the most electric and fascinating performance of "Die Walküre"'s last act that the Metropolitan has given in our memory. When it was learned that Mme. Larsen-Todsen would be unable to make her debut at the Brooklyn opera, some hope was expressed that Mme. Branzell would be given the part. During the season of 1923-24 she sang Brünnhilde in one or two performance of "Die Walküre" and was most favorably received. Her voice possessed the range demanded by the role and she is an artist matured in the traditions of Wagnerian music drama.

Her Brünnhilde last evening was drawn with overmastering passion. She was indeed the impetuous and disobedient daughter of Wotan, racked by the terror of impending punishment. We must return to the Brünnhilde of Elsa Alsen to find among post-war artists one who has given so dynamic and compelling a version of those final scenes. Her singing of the music was like that of her Fricka earlier in the evening, of opulent tonal beauty and emotional force.

From Mme. Branzell's inspired Brünnhilde the Valkyries and even Mr. Bohnen's Wotan seemed to draw a new fire. As an actor Mr. Bohnen impresses one by his identity to Wagnerian Godhead. He, too, gave an authoritative and passionate performance of the Third Act, placing the god before us with all the humanity, the tenderness of the sorrowing Wotan. In his delivery of the farewell music he evidenced a greater feeling for sheer beauty of tone, singing with less of that guttural quality of voice into which he occasionally lapses.

One does not find in Wagner a more magical page that that which closes this drama of fate. The music of the Farewell is one of the most mysteriously touching things that Wagner ever wrote. It is music of exquisite tenderness and regret. Those pages descriptive of the fire are among the masterpieces of tonal imagery and, as the enthusiastic Runcimen remarks, they have never been surpassed, nor has anyone attempted a similar etude in musical description. One singles out this final scene in a consideration of the entire opera because of the conviction that, however time may deal with Wagner's words as a whole, the farewell must certainly remain an imperishable heritage for those future generations of whose opinions and tastes we can have no intention.

Fine as the last act of the performance was, we must leave it for a consideration of all that occurred earlier in the evening. The cuts made in the First and Second Acts were more extensive than those usual at the Metropolitan, due largely to Mme. Claussen's indisposition. The entire prelude to Act Two, together with the [first] scene between Wotan and his favorite daughter was lopped from the score, and in Act One the scene between Siegmund, Sieglinde and Hunding was reduced to a skeleton.

Mme. Müller's Sieglinde won her a conspicuous success, for she has both the voice and the appearance necessary for the ideal impersonation of the role. Hers is not what one would consider a soprano of heroic proportions - it is of a finer and more lyric type, capable of an expressive range and rising magnificently to the climaxes of the part. Her delivery of the phrase with which she replies to Brünnhilde's prophecy of the hero to be born was thrilling in its sheer beauty of tone and in the ease with which the trying passage was conquered. In the love duet with Siegmund she was equally fine. Mr. Taucher, for his part, was a faintly acceptable Siegmund. The Hunding of Mr. Gustafson was no more terrifying than Wagner intended it to be.

But the first two acts, unless redeemed by what followed, would have passed as a performance of singular flatness. Mr. Bodanzky was in excellent form and secured from his men an elastic, vivid reading of the score.



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