[Met Performance] CID:92720
Siegfried {131}
Ring Cycle [47]
Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/10/1926.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 10, 1926 Matinee

Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [47]

Siegfried...............Lauritz Melchior
Brünnhilde..............Nanny Larsén-Todsen
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Ernestine Schumann-Heink
Mime....................Max Bloch
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................William Gustafson
Forest Bird.............Elizabeth Kandt

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

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

Siegfried received two performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America

The season's only "Siegfried" was mounted at the Metropolitan Wednesday afternoon, the third of the "Ring" cycle and fourth in the series of six special Wagner matinees. Like "Rheingold," it was ordained by those inscrutable powers that control the destinies of men and operas, that once would be enough. Doubtless there will be other "Siegfrieds" in other years for those who permitted Wednesday's performance to go its appointed way without the distinction of their presence.

This particular representation had three details to individuate it from among the "Siegfrieds" of recent memory. Foremost of these was the superb singing of Friedrich Schorr as The Wanderer-beyond all question the finest Wanderer of many seasons. The second was the reinstated Erda of Ernestine Schumann Heink, who thus carried on the sunset revelations that began with her re-debut as the same character in "Rheingold" two weeks earlier. The third was a new Siegfried in the person of Lauritz Melchior, whose second appearance at the Metropolitan was thus achieved after an absence due to illness.

Artur Bodanzky conducted, and the cast otherwise included Max Bloch as Mime, Gustav Schützendorf as Alberich, William Gustafson as Fafner, Nanny Larsen-Todsen as Brünnhilde and Elisabeth Kandt as the Voice of the Forest Bird. Samuel Thewman had charge of the enchanted woods and the magic fire, the anvil that was split in twain, the clouds that swept eerily above the god-haunted earth, and the dragon that died with pathetic admonitions in its smoke.

Orchestrally, it was not a superior performance. The overworked and under-rehearsed ensemble was often ragged. Individual solo phrases were inexpertly played, and some of the motifs went sadly askew; but such details will be quickly forgotten, while the noble sonority of Schorr's voice and the largeness and touch of thrill in Schumann Heink's delivery of Erda's prophecies will linger long in the memory. As The Wanderer, Schorr had a role that Wagner might have written for him. Few Wagner impersonations of the generation have matched it in beauty of voice or authority of song and action. The scene between Wotan and Erda was the peak of the performance, in spite of moments when the contralto's tone responded a little uncertainly to the strenuous demands placed on it for heroic utterance. All her old skill of coloring the voice was there, and her lower notes had the power to match Schorr's flow of voluminous and richly resonant tone.

Melchior's "Siegfried" had obstacles to overcome, visual prejudices to remove. An indulgence was asked for him in a printed slip distributed with the programs, because of his recent indisposition. His singing had little trace of it, though apparently managed with much care. The artist's real handicap was his excess of weight, which was emphasized by a bearskin costume so abbreviated as to suggest the oldest of all comic pictures, that of a large man attired only in a barrel.

Yet, once the eye had become accustomed to the manscape, this Siegfried proved the best of several seasons. Vocally it was superior in that it was free from barking and shouting, and in the half-voice was often of musical charm. In action, it had many individual details that were highly effective -and would have been much more so if his appearance had better simulated athletic youth. Though the role is said to be a relatively new one for him, he gave the impression of a ripened impersonation and one steeped in the traditions. If his tempi and those of Mr. Bodanzky were not always in agreement, the preference lay with the singer's.

Of the other feminine members of the cast, Nanny Larsen-Todsen sang Brünnhilde in her familiar manner, eloquently, but unsteadily as to tone; and Elisabeth Kandt the music of the Forest Bird with wandering intonation. Schützendorf's Alberich was altogether admirable; the scene of defiance of Wotan stirringly so. The Mime of Max Bloch was competent, if not distinguished, and the same can be said of the loudspeaker Dragon of Gustafson. In its mechanical aspects, the performance moved smoothly, and there was a minimum of those distractions which so often cause the devout Wagnerian to prefer his music without the disillusionments of stage properties.

Review of Grena Bennett in the American


Continuing its special matinees of Wagner's "Ring Cycle." The Metropolitan Opera Company presented '"Siegfried' yesterday afternoon. The performance was one of great merit and interest, merit despite the fact that Lauritz Melchior, who impersonated Siegfried, was still ill after some days of invalidum and sang valiantly nevertheless. A slip inserted in the programme begged the audience's indulgence for his weak vocal condition. But only in voice was Mr. Melchior below normal. His appearance as the young hero filled every possible demand; youth, vigorous action, boyish enthusiasm, a symmetrical figure of classic mold and grace were among the visual details of his Siegfried.

Ernestine Schumann-Heink again brought Erda to life and again contributed much to her noteworthy performance. Her voice glowed with beauty. Neither break nor hoarseness marred the smooth evenness of her delivery. Her art is so admirably controlled that the auditor is unconscious of its technic. She opened her mouth and beautiful tones flowed or floated without effort or labor. Her prophetic and mysterious message to the Wanderer was freighted with meaning and nobly uttered.

The Wanderer was Friedrich Schorr. A magnificent voice, combined with majestic bearing and nobility of utterance, marked his characterization. A dominating figure and a grand manner of declamation impressed his audience.

Photograph of Lauritz Melchior as the title role in Siegfried.

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