[Met Performance] CID:89550
Das Rheingold {60}
Ring Cycle [46]
Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/26/1925.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 26, 1925 Matinee


DAS RHEINGOLD {60}
Der Ring des Nibelungen [46]
Wagner-Wagner

Wotan...................Michael Bohnen
Fricka..................Nanny Larsén-Todsen
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Loge....................Curt Taucher
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Fasolt..................Léon Rothier
Fafner..................James Wolfe
Freia...................Maria Müller
Froh....................Ralph Errolle
Donner..................Carl Schlegel
Mime....................George Meader
Woglinde................Charlotte Ryan
Wellgunde...............Phradie Wells
Flosshilde..............Marion Telva

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

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

Das Rheingold received one performance this season.

Review (unsigned) in the column "Crotchets and Quavers in Town and Country

ANENT THE PRODIGAL 'RHEINGOLD'

Joy and thanksgiving were the order of the day at the Metropolitan Opera House last Thursday, for the prodigal "Rheingold, [beginning] a matinée" "Ring" cycle, came back to the fold in the afternoon, following an absence from our chief lyric theatre of more than eight years. Various phenomena connected with the return are of a special interest. In the first place, the box office reckoners computed a $9,000 house, which statistical wizards declare is a top-notch record of "Das Rheingold" in any city of any land. In the second place, the performance, though not flawless (what performance of "Das Rheingold" ever was?) ranked among the very best our city has seen and heard. Altogether, so strikingly successful was the come-back that immediately voices rose on all sides urging the Metropolitan management to repeat at least once an opera that had been modestly listed as, even after eight years, an "only time."

To be as effective as this one, a performance of "Das Rheingold" must be attuned to the key of legend and saga, without incongruous eruption from our world of quotidian irrelevancy. This one moved in undisturbed security along the dreaming ways of Norse mythology, and as in a dream of a recalled ancestral beauty the music swept and eddied and resounded to an obbligato of heroic deed and transcendental happening. Rarely does any opera here so live apart in its own poetic ambient. It really summoned the elusive spirit of festival, and for the nonce Broadway became Bayreuth.

The richly fused and atmospheric presentation besides its general magic of effect was graced by some extraordinary individual achievements. The Wotan of Michael Bohnen, as a first instance, surpasses any other seen and heard here in a long, long time, if, indeed, it has even had its equal. Something, it may be, about the green cloak and orange tunic (cut very décolleté, by the way) suggested Greek Olympus, but All-Father, however you bedeck him, is the same, and whether you call him Zeus, Osiris, Jupiter, or Wotan makes little difference. Mr. Bohnen, without a hint of conscious strut, was the incarnate force and majesty of deity. In no little magnificence were cast his voice and singing. Over against this regnant figure crouched the Black Alberich of Gustav Schützendorf, his tones charged with the cunning, the lust, the malice, the fury of the evil and vindictive dwarf. His brother Mime is a transient visitant, but the little he must do Mr. Meader did absolutely to perfection.

At last Curt Taucher has found his role; it is Loge. With a head of angular and crinkly flame, he pranced and flickered through the mazy changes of the subtle fire god, flickered his ruddy garments, stopping short in taut readiness of pose, diving and fluttering amongst his kindred divinities, here, there, elsewhere, everywhere, the buoyant, volatile, insinuating, unbeatable factotum of scornful, but dependent, gods. And every word he uttered stung and smarted with an ironic bite.

These were the individual triumphs of the day, but they do not exhaust the honor roll. Mme. Müller was quite spring like and lovely as that Norse Hebe, Freia. Mr. Errole treated skillfully the few phrases that Froh has to sing. Mme. Larsen-Todsen as Fricka amiably tempered prerogative with grace. Mr. Schlegel made a Donner of due substance. The giants were a respectable, if less impressive pair, and Mr. Wolfe as Fafner, by no means a terrifying apparition, wrongly conducted all his fatal assault of Fasolt off stage. To the eye the Fasolt of Mr. Rothier resembled too nearly a rueful Santa Claus, but the French basso handled this German declamation far more successfully than seemed possible from his sorry experience with Pogner's test in "Die Meistersinger." Mme. Branzell has, of course, a good voice, but here delivery of Erda's warning was deficient in pungent tone and clarity of diction.

The three daughters of old Rhine, Mmes. Ryan, Wells and Telva, sang very acceptably in the [first] scene, especially Mme. Telva, but the later plaint from out of the depths was quite appalling. After some initial awkwardness had been outlived, Mr. Bodanzky and the orchestra gave an excellent account of their important element, save for a climax or two that ought to have been wrought to a more stirring culmination. The scenery was that of eight years back, but it served, and the various transitions were effected in the main smoothly, though with much hissing of steam. The lighting often was admirably illusive, especially for the under-water scene and the shadowy caverns of Nibelheim. But where, oh where, was Alberich's "Riesenwurm"!



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).