[Met Performance] CID:94280
Die Zauberflöte {64} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 11/23/1926.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 23, 1926


DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE {64}

Pamina..................Elisabeth Rethberg
Tamino..................George Meader
Queen of the Night......Marion Talley
Sarastro................Paul Bender
Papageno................Gustav Schützendorf
Papagena................Louise Hunter
Monostatos..............Max Bloch
Speaker.................Pavel Ludikar
First Lady..............Marcella Röseler
Second Lady.............Phradie Wells
Third Lady..............Marion Telva
Genie...................Charlotte Ryan
Genie...................Grace Anthony
Genie...................Dorothea Flexer
Priest..................Arnold Gabor
Priest..................Ludwig Burgstaller
Guard...................Max Bloch
Guard...................William Gustafson

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

Review of Linton Martin in the Philadelphia Inquirer

'THE MAGIC FLUTE' IN OPERA REVIVAL

Fantastic Scenery a Feature With Marion Talley Heard in Tones That Tripped

Elisabeth Rethberg Makes a Deep Impression in Huge Production at Academy

Mozart became the grand old man of German Opera at the Academy last night. "The Magic Flute," that 135-year old "sing-spiel," given scenic rejuverescence after its considerable retirement, capered like a youngster through seventeen scenes of bizarre and barbaric brightness, with an added element of unjaded juvenility in the presence of Marion Talley, the Kansas City coloratura, to wrestle with the tricky tunes of the Queen of the Night, whose music played a few pranks upon Miss Talley's voice.

The effect of hearing this quaint and charming old opera with the spectacular and freely fantastic settings provided by Serge Soudekine, was much like the amazement that might ensure upon having a welshrabbit nightmare follow eating a few dainty ladyfingers. The Russian artist did not restrain his fancy to suit the sweetly simple Mozartian music, with results that were engagingly original, and certainly were not more incredible that that amazingly mangled book which Emanuel Schickaneder saddled upon Mozart.

If the facetious might suggest that Soudekine's settings suit the images incited by bootleg brand in the Volsteadian era, Mr. Gatti struck a balance by omitting the old menagerie that used to ornament "The Magic Flute" in the days that were. There were no pink elephants, green giraffes, or dinosaurs on the stage, such pretty "props" for what is essentially a Christmas-pantomime story - with its immortal music - being left to the individual fancy to supply. Only a sedate serpent was seen.

If there were other differences from the old days in the vocal part at the performance they need not be unduly emphasized here. Such singers as Sembrich, Ternina, Melba and Plançon are reminiscences, not realities, although here and there the standards of sincere artistry are admirably upheld as in the instance of Elisabeth Rethberg, who last night moved the audience to prolonged applause with her aria in the sixth scene of the second act. Indeed, the wealth of tone, beauty of color, artistry of expression and sense of scene that she brought to her singing of the "Ach, ich fühls" aria were all that anybody could ask and, if authenticity of acting had been possible, she would have supplied it.

Gustav Schützendorf made an uproariously amusing fellow of the woodland night, Papageno, and his comic characterization included his eloquent vocal inflections as well as appearance and deportment. That mythical man, Sarastro, was portrayed with more dignity of demeanor by Paul Bender than is in the part itself, and he sang sonorously, doing especially good work in the [first] scene of the second act, which, with some that followed, made one apprehensive that cast and chorus might forget themselves and bust into the temple music of "Aida" at any moment, but fortunately the audience was spared that.

As for Marion Talley, her struggles with her florid measure were as heroic as they were at time unhappy. The Queen of the Night is supposed to be a sinister lady, but Miss Talley might, to the uninitiated eye, have just escaped from a Ziegfeld "Follies" in a fancy costume, while her tones tripped in the wrong direction at moments in both of her most ambitious tests on the tonal tightrope. George Meader sang acceptably as Tamino, even if he didn't look especially robust for the part, and the many minor parts were all taken with smooth adequacy, Marcella Röseler suddenly stepping into the role of the First Lady, because of another's illness.

Artur Bodanzky brought out the ingratiating, naïve charm of the music at the conductor's stand, and the chorus did some notably good work.



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