[Met Performance] CID:98480
Siegfried {138} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/18/1928.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 18, 1928 Matinee


SIEGFRIED {138}
Wagner-Wagner

Siegfried...............Rudolf Laubenthal
Brünnhilde..............Gertrude Kappel
Wanderer................Friedrich Schorr
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Mime....................Max Bloch
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................William Gustafson
Forest Bird.............Editha Fleischer

Conductor...............Tullio Serafin

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

Siegfried received five performances this season.

Review of W. S. in Musical America

In the dear, dead days within recall at the Metropolitan Opera House, it was gloriously proven that a gentleman of Italian birth can conduct the music of Wagner with results eminently Wagnerian. Comparison is neither gainful nor necessary with the miraculous, ignescent Arturo Toscanini. Let it suffice that fervent musicianship triumphed over the limitations of nationality to thrilling effect last Saturday afternoon when Tullio Serafin, for many years noted in Europe as an exponent of Wagneriana, made his local debut as such in the season's first "Siegfried."

Mr. Serafin deserves more than a gold star atop his already excellent record in New York, for this achievement. He should be made the recipient of a generous loving cup donated collectively by the town's discriminating and ardent Wagnerian initiates. For to the glowing torch that was his baton on this occasion may all of the performance's superb aspects be attributed. We had both the sweep, the exuberant heroism of "Siegfried" and the fluidity of its lyric designs. It has been many a day since the Wagnerian orchestra was more rightfully the hero in this town.

Under the flashing eye of Saturday's conductor the Forge Song, the Waldweben, the combat with Fafner (which had been entirely restored into the score) the music of Mime and Alberich and the ever more magnificent introduction to the third act assumed something like their just significance. The last was a particularly stirring example of climatic power and pulsatile drama. It realized with irresistible persuasion the essence of muscular grace that animates the greatest of "Siegfried's" music.

Very little of the inner detail seemed to escape Mr. Serafin; he saw beneath the surface almost without fail and brought into profile the separated and yet necessarily integral lines that converge to form the superb thing that is "Siegfried." He sensed beautifully the shape of Wagner's phrases, performed them with care and simultaneous abandon, reared a luminous color about their structure. We felt the happy justice of his tempi throughout, with a single exception - that in which he appeared to us to rob the Wanderer's "Auf wolkigen Hoh'n," in the first act scene with Mime, of its broadness by allowing too much elasticity.

Mr. Serafin restored matter, amounting in performance to some ten or twelve minutes, which is habitually cut in the emporium of music on Fortieth Street, this welcome addition being made up of six re-insertions, two in each act. Of these the most important, possibly, were the aforementioned Fafner music and the introduction to the second act.

As if to fit in nicely with the songfulness of things in general Rudolf Lauhenthal did some of the best singing he has allowed himself to emit since first he took to spending his winters in New York. As Siegfrieds go he was a most estimable young man and if he strove somewhat too manfully to be a radiant bit of sunshine he erred on the right side. Needless to remark, he made a personable, goldilocked hero.

The greatness of Friedrich Schorr's Wanderer can best be recounted by saying that he fulfilled to the hilt the manifold philosophies that Wagner endowed upon the "Siegfried" Wotan. In point of vocalism also Mr. Schorr was godlike and bountiful. Some of the best artistry of the afternoon was exhibited (through a speaking trumpet) by William Gustafson, the Fafner. Mr. Gustafson has never before had such remarkable results with the rôle.

For the Valkyr awakened by a hero's kiss we had Gertrude Kappel, who did much that was intelligently commendable but who never suggested to the full, either in voice nor manner, the re-animated Brünnhilde. Even with the allowances that could readily be made for the cold which undoubtedly handicapped Mme. Kappel, this did not seem to us the Brünnhilde of fondest conception.

The familiar and well drawn portraits of Mime by Max Bloch and Alberich by Gustav Schutzendorf went well as did the exquisite singing of Editha Fleischer as the Forest Bird. Mme. Branzell's Erda was disappointing for her.



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