[Met Performance] CID:99030
Siegfried {141} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/27/1928.

(Review)

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 27, 1928


SIEGFRIED {141}

Siegfried...............Rudolf Laubenthal
Brünnhilde..............Florence Easton
Wanderer................Michael Bohnen
Erda....................Karin Branzell
Mime....................Max Bloch
Alberich................Gustav Schützendorf
Fafner..................William Gustafson
Forest Bird.............Editha Fleischer

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

Review signed S. S. L. in the Philadelphia Evening Ledger

SERAFIN'S READING LIFTS 'SIEGFRIED'

Conductor's Art Brings Wagner Opera Presented by Metropolitan Co., to High Level

The difference that a really great conductor can make in an operatic performance was abundantly illustrated last evening at the performance of Richard Wagner's "Siegfried."
Tullio Serafin occupied the conductor's stand and gave what was the most masterly reading of Wagner that has been heard in Philadelphia for years. He lifted the members of the cast, an excellent one but by no means the best the Metropolitan Company can muster, to a higher level than any Metropolitan cast has exhibited here for a long time.

Mr. Serafin imparted a lyric quality to the opera which it seldom has in the hands of a German conductor, while, on the other hand, his Italian training showed through to the extent that he made the voices at least equal of the orchestra, another thing very rare in Wagnerian conducting because the voices so seldom have the principal motifs of the work, but generally a counterpointed part with the motifs for most of the time in the orchestra.

Orchestra Well Handled

While Mr. Serafin paid more attention to the voice parts than is usual in Wagnerian conducting, he, by no means, overlooked the orchestration's part in the Wagnerian scheme. So much was this the case that many a distinguished orchestral conductor who has played the "Waldweben" and "Siegfried's Ascent of the Burning Mountain" in this city in concert could get some excellent pointers from Mr. Serafin's interpretation.

One incident at the close of the second act revealed the conductor's own attitude toward the German opera. As usual, when the curtain went down, the audience broke into immediate applause. Mr. Serafin, still leading with his right hand, signaled toward the audience with his left hand for silence, a gesture long since made familiar here by Mr. Stokowski. The audience obeyed and the short postlude to the act was completed without interruption.

The writer has heard Mr. Serafin conduct many Italian operas but does not ever recall a similar incident. That masterly work of the conductor was shown by the tremendous reception which he received whenever he appeared at the beginning of an act.

Laubenthal Well Cast

The cast, as has been said, was strong, but not the best that the company could have put into this opera. Mr. Laubenthal sang unusually well and acted splendidly, his highest points vocally being reached in the two songs at the forge, while welding the sword and in the last scene of the opera, in the great duet with Brünnhilde.

Mme. Easton, always a fine artist, made an excellent Brünnhilde - and sang superbly the music of the closing scene, the only one in which this character appears in the opera. The other roles were well taken. Michael Bohnen was an impressive Wotan in stage appearance, although some of the music seemed rather high for him, and Gustav Schützendorf and Max Bloch were excellent as Alberich and Mime, respectively, although Mr. Bloch was, at times, a little inclined to overact the comedy feature of his role.

William Gustafson sang effectively the vocal part of the Fafner role and the "wurm" itself was fearsome in appearance and not too ludicrous in the famous battle with Siegfried, the staging of which necessarily has to be carried out in a manner very different from Wagner's instructions for the simple reason that the latter are impossible. Karin Branzell sang the difficult Erda music well and the entire performance moved with a spirit and snap which the Metropolitan does not always exhibit.



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