[Met Performance] CID:98570
Das Rheingold {65}
Ring Cycle [49]
Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/24/1928.

(Debut: Fred Patton
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 24, 1928 Matinee


DAS RHEINGOLD {65}
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Cycle [49]
Wagner-Wagner

Wotan...................Friedrich Schorr
Fricka..................Gertrude Kappel
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Loge....................Walter Kirchhoff
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Fasolt..................Léon Rothier
Fafner..................James Wolfe
Freia...................Maria Müller
Froh....................Max Altglass
Donner..................Fred Patton [Debut]
Mime....................George Meader
Woglinde................Editha Fleischer
Wellgunde...............Phradie Wells
Flosshilde..............Marion Telva

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

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

Das Rheingold received one performance this season.

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the New York Herald Tribune

'Rheingold' at the Metropolitan Continues the Matinee Wagner Cycle

We come upon a new Wagner and a new imaginative work in the music of "Rheingold." Hearing that amazing Prelude, in which Wagner dared to build a symphonic movement of 136 measures upon the common chord of E flat major, we feel that the Wagner of "Tannhäuser," of "Lohengrin" could not have done this, would not have dared it. And we are in a new world of the imagination, as well as a new world of art and craftsmanship. This music begins in the primordial abyss, in the green, twilit depths of the old river, timeless and immemorial. It ends with lightning and a rainbow and a stormy, tragical deceptive sunset brightening the faces of the doomed gods; and between, there is music of fire and clouds and mountain heights and subterranean gloom and the roar of wind among primeval hills, and the gathering tempests and the never-absent sense of the wonder and strangeness and magic of the created earth.

The music of "Das Rheingold" takes us for the first time into the world of the greater Wagner; and what a world of fresh beauty and endless wonder it is! Its music of water, of fire, of wind and storm; its motives that capture the essence of youth and strength and loveliness - Freia's theme; the theme of the Golden Apples, and, for contrast, the dark music of Alberich and the Nibelungs; and, yet again, those other themes of portent and of destiny - those that are associated with the rape of the Ring, with Erda, her warnings and her prophecies; and, finally, that music in which Wagner graces dangerously the sublime - the music of Walhalla, the stronghold of the gods, with its great tirade and its gravity of pace evoking the image of the majestic castle gleaning in the dawn upon the height across the valley; these things are marvels of the projective imagination.

Not only had Wagner attempted no such range of indication in his earlier work; but music itself had never dared to conceive so vast a cosmos. Weber had but looked into this corner of an infinitely smaller world, lovely and magical, after its kind, but relatively Lilliputian. With "Rheingold" not only a new master had been born, and a new world of suggestion and evocation, but a new art, mega-like, Promethean, charged with a divine effrontery. Thus the Metropolitan could not have offered the subscribers to its Wagner Cycle a more striking and instructive contrast than it did in following the "Tannhäuser" of last week with the "Rheingold" of yesterday.

The performance, too, could scarcely have been more strongly contrasted. The chief character of "Tannhäuser" had been embodied for us by the singing actor who assumed, in yesterday's "Rheingold," that character which, if we may not call it the chief personage of the play, is unquestionably its motive power. We are speaking of Mr. Kirchhoff, whose Tannhäuser was so disaffecting, whose Loge in "Rheingold" is so apt and compelling. Mr. Kirchhoff dominated, as Loge should, the scenes in which he figured. His skillful and vivid miming, his excellent diction, his suggestion of lambent motion, caused us to forget his occasional exaggerations (Mr. Kirchhoff's haunting sin) and the unalluring quality of his voice.

Mme. Kappel's Fricka was heard for the first time here. It is remarkable for its expressiveness through repose. Mme. Kappel knows how to make the utmost simplicity and economy of gesture and plastic line tell with the maximum of effective fullness. Yesterday she conveyed to us the dignity and the sovereign pathos of Wotan's unblessed spouse with a surprising frugality of means, and the issue was a performance of the unrewarding role as admirable as we have had at the Metropolitan in years.

It would be unreasonable to ask for a better Wotan than Mr. Schorr's, a better Alberich than Mr. Schützendorf's, a better Mime than Mr. Meader's. Miss Branzell sang Erda much more efficiently than she did the Erda of "Siegfried" a week ago; and if her scene was not encored - as it was when "Rheingold" was first exhibited to the Italians at Venice in 1863 - that was, we may be sure, because encores are not good manners in performance of Wagner (did not the program print yesterday the sternly admonitory line" No Encores Allowed")?

Miss Müller's Freia, the Giants of Messrs. Rothier and Wolf, the Froh of Mr. Altglass, the Nixies of the Misses Fleischer, Wells and Telva, were as we have known them before. Mr. Fred Patton, making his Metropolitan debut, disclosed as Donner, a promising voice and an intelligent attitude toward his histrionic obligations.

The mounting of "Rheingold" is among the Metropolitan's happiest achievements, and yesterday's performance was, by and large, one to remember gratefully.



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