[Met Performance] CID:92850
Ring Cycle  Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/19/1926.
Metropolitan Opera House
March 19, 1926 Matinee
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle 
First Norn..............Merle Alcock
Second Norn.............Henriette Wakefield
Third Norn..............Marcella Röseler
Director................Wilhelm von Wymetal
Set designer............Hans Kautsky
Götterdämmerung receieved two performances this season
Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America
'Götterdämmerung' Ends 'Ring' Cycle at Metropolitan
Last of Tetralogy Given in Special Matinee Series
"It has passed like a breath, this race of gods; the treasure of my sacred knowledge I leave to the world: it is no longer goods, gold, or sacred pomp, houses, courts, lordly magnificence, nor the deceitful ties of dark treaties, nor the harsh law of hypocritical manners, but only one single thing which in good as in evil days makes us happy, Love!"
The words are Wagner's own. But no words could express what he strove to say, like the music which again sounded in all-assuasive benediction for Friday afternoon's audience at the Metropolitan, as the final curtains closed in on "Götterdämmerung."
The majestic "Valhalla" theme in the brass, the riverine undulations of the "Rhine Daughters" in the wood choir, the companion waves of the "Rhine" itself in the cellos, violas and harps, the final flashing statement of the "Guardian of the Sword" motif, and a last despairing reference to "Divine Power," while over all float the violins in the ethereal splendor of the supreme theme, the "Redemption through Love," with its star-pointed final chord - is there anything like these concluding pages of the "Ring" in all music?
That Wagner should have used the "Redemption through Love" but once before reaching the very end of the Tetralogy and should then have built his resplendent apotheosis on it, indicates how highly he valued it among the many marvelous motifs of the "Ring." When he first heard this theme in his inner being, and marked it for use in the colossal cycle, can only be conjectured. But it was in 1854 or 1855 that he put it into the mouth of Sieglinde, as she takes the fragments of the broken sword, seized with a joy to live for the Walsung hero she is to bear; and nearly twenty years elapsed before Wagner completed the final scene in "Götterdämmerung," in which it is heard again. There is no hint of it in the three acts of "Siegfried," or in "Götterdämmerung" until midway in the Immolation scene.
The suggestion comes inevitably that Wagner regarded it as the supreme creation of his inspiration in the "Ring" and put the theme away for its final glorification, at the time of its first flowering in his "Walküre" days. Surely only a Titanic genius could have thus looked down the vista of this succession of music-dramas and have thus husbanded his material for a culmination that was not to be actually accomplished until a score of years had passed.
Indulgences were asked by means of printed slips for Mme. Larsen-Todsen and Michael Bohnen, both of whom sang in spite of vocal indispositions. Though plainly hampered, there was much that was eloquent and convincing in the soprano's Brünnhilde, and Bohnen's Hagen was the same powerful and sinister figure of a year ago, with the same tendency to disregard traditions of the part. Laubenthal's Siegfried had much to commend it. He sang with a ringing and often truly heroic quality of tone and was physically a sturdy embodiment of the Wolsung. Schorr's Gunther and Mme. Branzell's Waltraute were vocally admirable, and Mme. Muller's Gutrune possessed visual and vocal charm. Schützendorf's Alberich was the same effective impersonation it has been from its first revelation. The general effect of the singing of the Norns and the nixies could have been better, but it was not disturbing.
The orchestra, directed with no want of intensity by Mr. Bodanzky, played better than in "Rheingold" or "Siegfried," and much of the time approached its former standard in this music. Opinions will continue to differ with respect to the Bodanzky tempi - this reviewer felt that many of them were much too fast.
The stage management, for which Wilhelm von Wymetal assumed responsibility, has not altered details that were criticized a year ago - the Norn scene being as unsatisfactorily grouped and lighted as before, and the funeral procession for the dead Siegfried inexplicably contrary to Wagner's explicit stage directions.
One wearies of haggling over such details, and gives thanks that they cannot materially dim the splendors of this music, on which, after all, the stage action is a drag and a burden, and a constant source of disillusionment. Only a musical misanthrope can look back on this cycle, with virtues far outweighing its faults, with any feeling except of gratitude, whatever the reservations that must be made with respect to sundry details of the individual performances.