[Met Performance] CID:98440
Tannhäuser {245} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/15/1928.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 15, 1928 Matinee


TANNHÄUSER {245}

Tannhäuser..............Walter Kirchhoff
Elisabeth...............Maria Jeritza
Wolfram.................Friedrich Schorr
Venus...................Marion Telva
Hermann.................Michael Bohnen
Walther.................Max Altglass
Heinrich................Max Bloch
Biterolf................Arnold Gabor
Reinmar.................James Wolfe
Shepherd................Editha Fleischer
Dance...................Lilyan Ogden
Dance...................Jessie Rogge
Dance...................Florence Glover

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


Review of Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune:

One cannot but wonder how long it will be before the Metropolitan itself begins to take these special cycle performances more seriously.

As the Metropolitan now sets itself to their accomplishment, these special Wagner performances are indistinguishable from the routine performances of the same works that occur in the course of the regular subscription. Their only "special" feature is the audience they attract, an audience of exceptional cultivation and responsiveness. Quite the finest audience, in fact, that one is likely to encounter in an American opera house. For it comes to hear great music and obviously for no other reason.

We do not think that the Metropolitan takes full advantage of the opportunities these cycle performances provide for giving the best performances of which it is capable. These representations of Wagner's works have undeniable excellences as, in the case of yesterday's "Tannhäuser," we shall give ourselves the pleasure of pointing out. But they should and could be better,

They should and could, have something of the festival character which European Wagner Festspiele so attractively possess. They might, for example, be given on Tuesdays, beginning at 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon and ending at 9 or 10, with a long recess for fuelling and recuperation.

If "Strange Interval" merits this special consideration, surely "Tristan" does. The music dramas should be given uncut as they are at Munich and Bayreuth. Only those who have witnessed 'Tristan," for example, in its completeness, can appreciate the Alpine sweep and the soaring magnitude of the work with all its superb perspectives intact and overwhelming. We should no longer have to endure the disfiguring surgery which is unavoidable when a huge work like "Tristan" or "Götterdämmerung" is stretched upon the Procrustean bed of an ordinary matinee performance.

We are aware that Tuesday evenings are customarily devoted by the Metropolitan to excursions Brooklyn-ward or to Philadelphia, but we refuse to believe that the Metropolitan's able executives would be stumped by the problem of giving 'Mignon," say, in Brooklyn or Philadelphia on the same evening that an uncut "Tristan" was holding the boards of the Metropolitan in New York for a special Festival audience. In fact, performances are sometimes given both in Brooklyn and Philadelphia on the same evening.

We have not the slightest doubt that a cycle on Tuesday afternoon and evening of Wagner performances, uncut, devotedly restudied, prayerfully cast, with not-to-strange interludes for dinner, would attract musical pilgrims from far and wide.

We are well aware that the Metropolitan has nothing to gain by such a scheme except an increase of artistic honor; its Wagner Cycle, as at presently given, is always, we believe sold out. But an opera house that keeps on gallantly performing and admirably performing season after season, so great and so hopelessly unpopular a work as "Pelléas et Mélisande," has abundantly proved that it is interested in other matters than material advantage.

Yesterday's "Tannhäuser" had its familiar merits and defects. Its chief and excelling merit was the eloquent Elisabeth of Mme. Jeritza , a role in which she in triumphantly at her best.

"The only actress who can meet the requirements of this part is one who is able to feel to the depths of Elisabeth's piteous situation, from the first quick budding of her affection for Tannhäuser, through all the phases of its growth, to the final efflorescence of the unfolding prayer, and to feel this with the most delicate womanly sensibility"

That sentence was written by Richard Wagner, and we have a notion that he would have been content with Mme. Jeritza's embodiment of this loveliest of his heroines. By her plastic and sensitive acting, by the subtlety and variety of her facial play, the fluent and expressive beauty of her miming, Mme. Jeritza set before us yesterday an Elisabeth richly imagined and projected in the round.

Her vocalism was not consistently at its best. She was occasionally off pitch. But some of her mezza voce singing was admirable and, for the most part, she refrained from forcing her voice.

The Wolfram of Mr. Schorr and the Landgraf of Mr. Bohnen were on the same plane of imaginative realization and Mr. Schorr, in particular, sang with most heedful and solacing art.

Mme. Telva is often a praiseworthy artist, but Venus is not one of the roles for which a capricious, but tyrannical, Providence intended her. It is regrettably necessary to say the same thing of Mr. Kirchoff's Tannhäuser, which had yesterday more than a few disaffecting moments.

Again, one was compelled to deplore the necessity of omitting from the duet between Venus and Tannhäuser some of the most treasurable pages in the score. But perhaps someday we shall hear them in those Festival Performances on Manhattan Island of which even Imperfect Wagnerites may dream.



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