[Met Performance] CID:89720
Siegfried {128}
Ring Cycle [46]
Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/11/1925.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 11, 1925 Matinee


SIEGFRIED {128}
Der Ring des Nibelungen [46]
Wagner-Wagner

Siegfried...............Curt Taucher
Brünnhilde..............Nanny Larsén-Todsen
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Marion Telva
Mime....................George Meader
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................William Gustafson
Forest Bird.............Charlotte Ryan

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

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

Siegfried received three performances this season.

Unsigned account on Page One of the New York Times

OPERA TENOR FALLS 25 FEET FROM STAGE

4,000 Persons Watching Curt Taucher in 'Siegfried' Unaware of His Narrow Escape

STEAM CLOUDS MISLED HIM

And He Hurtled Through a trap to Cellar Below - Helped Up Bruised but Smiling - Sings On.

Tragedy came nearer to the Metropolitan Opera stage yesterday than it had in all of Gatti-Casazza's seventeen years in New York, when in full view of 4,000 persons unaware of his peril Curt Taucher, the German tenor, in this season's only performance of "Siegfried," suddenly plunged through an open trap at the verge of the footlights into the 10-foot well of the rock-floored cellar below. None of his fellow artists saw him. Few even of the watchful army of stagehands knew anything had happened amiss.

Out In the orchestra pit, Conductor Bodanzky was most oblivious of all the 4,000 present, as he bent to the task of whipping up the music drama in a famous climax of Wagner 's traditional harmony during the last act's visible change of scene. Masked only by descending veils and steam clouds, the stage setting was transformed from the "wild region at the foot of a rocky mountain" to the "summit of the Valkyrie's rock," where the opera's hero was finally to claim his bride. The scene cleared and the lights glared on Brünnhilde slumbering amid the magic fire.

By a miracle, Siegfried was there-late by seconds only, and quite evidently staggering as he stepped over the furthest canvas "rock walls" and reached for his sword, thrust into his injured and painful hands by an eager assistant hidden behind the forest trees. To others below decks, who had seen what they fancied a piece of scenery falling and, on stooping to pick it up, had found a badly shaken man, Taucher had appealed for instant help up the two stories of iron stairs to the stage.

Lost His Sword in Fall.

"Quick, I must go on." the tenor exclaimed, with an attempt at a smile to show he was not mortally hurt. And on arriving at the upper platform he walked out alone, calling back, "Where's my sword?"

Taucher leaned heavily on his sword when he got it, and so supported himself until the excitement of the music and of the drama's closing action inspired him to finish the scene with Mme. Larsén-Todsen, to whom there was no opportunity to explain his crushed hands and bodily bruises, save where the singer's costume and his arms and legs had been blackened in the course of his fall.

He was back on the stage before Rudolf Laubenthal, with whom Taucher shares the German operas, and who happened to be a spectator at the matinee, could be brought out and urgently asked by Edward Ziegler, Mr. Gatti's executive assistant, if he would save the management from ringing down the curtain in case that should be necessary. Dr. Charles Edward Nammack also was found in the dark theatre and called to Taucher's aid.

Before the anxious eyes of all these, who were momentarily expecting to see him collapse on the stage. Mr. Taucher finished the final half hour of the opera. He never cringed at the Valkyrie's embrace of the injured arms. And he still smiled as he came off stage after the last curtain calls to see a dozen attendants waiting with bandages and restoratives. Only the grasp of a friend's hand in congratulation brought the tears of pain to his eyes then.

His Wife Ill at Home.

There had been apology for the tenor earlier in the day, as he was singing while deeply anxious over a serious illness of his wife at their New York home, which is at 410 Winwood Road, Pelham Manor. His first wish expressed after his accident was that no word of it should reach Mrs. Taucher before he himself arrived home to reassure her. He drove home by automobile after Dr. Nammack's examination had indicated no broken bones.

Mr. Taucher's miraculous escape was explained later by those of the stage staff by who had been within sight of his fall. Siegfried had cut down with his sword the opposing staff of The Wanderer, sung by Mr. Schorr, and before turning up the mountain he had stepped forward to blow his hunting horn. In the steam clouds his footstep fell on thin air, and the tenor, who tips the scale at near 200 pounds. hurtled into the pit of blind darkness under him.

Dropped on Narrow Shelf.

It was Joe Crispano, stationed as stage mechanic to watch and guide the scenery into that same pit, who gave the alarm, "Man overboard." Crispano said afterward that he himself felt for the instant like a landlubber on a rough sea. All he could observe, looking into the cellar, was that Taucher fell straight and steadily between two iron "straps" of light girders, on which two operating balconies or mezzanines are suspended from the stage floor.

Past-the electrician, Earl Marshall, in the first mezzanine, the falling body flew on to the second floor narrow shelf underneath, or about twenty-five feet sheer drop. Taucher landed, not squarely on his feet. but enough so to help break his fall, while the weight of his body also bore down an iron pipe that formed the top of a heavy scenic canvas. The pipe had a "spring" to it, but it was bent all out of line and the canvas was ripped away.

The two stage carpenters on the lower tier, William Delaney and William Brown, saw the "scenery" as they supposed in some trouble or other and ran to it, quickly recognizing Taucher
In the rough fur tunic of Siegfried. Brown said he hesitated to lift an injured man, on the chance of broken bones, but before other help came Taucher was up and climbing or being carried with the help of six men, who stared wide-eyed as they saw him walk out again on the stage.

Narrow Escape From Death.

It was the opinion of all witnesses that Mr. Taucher had escaped death "by a miracle." His fall occurred in the same trap which had opened and failed in "Rheingold" two weeks ago, in the same "Ring" cycle. At that time, as the public knew, no dragon appeared when the Nibelung donned the Tarnhelm. The children, as dwarfs carrying the Rhine treasure, had literally danced on the edge of the same abyss, while Gatti and all the company had watched them, fearing to see such a mishap as happened yesterday.

Old-time operagoers recalled last night other casualties which had brought less happy ending here. The veteran Abbey Castelmary, in the company of Abbey, Schoeffel & Grau, when acting Sir Tristan in "Martha" on Feb. 10, 1897, dropped on the stage, fatally stricken with heart disease. On Jan. 1, 1905, in the time of Gatti-Casazza's predecessor, Heinrich Conried, there occurred the collapse of a bridge in the first scene of "Carmen," when ten choristers were injured though fortunately none was killed.



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