[Met Tour] CID:121530

Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York, Mon, April 19, 1937

Lohengrin (416)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Lauritz Melchior

Kirsten Flagstad

Karin Branzell

Julius Huehn

King Heinrich
Emanuel List

George Cehanovsky

Maurice Abravanel

Review 1:

Review of Charles Cole in the Rochester Times-Union

Metropolitan Opera Company at the Eastman

Opera on its most lavish scale, played and sung to the hilt by the world's premier Wagnerian cast, rang down the curtain on Rochester's music season last night.

It was also the final performance until next fall of the Metropolitan Opera Company, a rousing conclusion to a great season for that 22 karat organization.

Wagner's "Lohengrin" was the most handsomely mounted, richly costumed production the Met has given Rochester. Everything was on a grand scale, with the castle set and opulent wardrobes in the second act outstanding in gorgeous pageantry, color and dramatic movement.

Kirsten Flagstad has never looked more attractive than she did in the becoming white robes she wore in the first part of the opera and the regal gown of the wedding scene, even if she did bear a startling resemblance to the Statue of Liberty. Her singing, it almost goes without saying, was well nigh flawless in the role of Elsa - full toned, rich and true.

Lauritz Melchior, in the title role , was in top form too. He looked every inch a knight - and that's a big knight. In the first two acts, his singing opportunities were scant, but he carried the last act almost entirely on his broad shoulders. The choicest music in the opera fell to him in the final scene, and he gave a splendid account of it.

"Lohengrin" is not one of this listener's favorites. It has little of memorable melodies, except for the famous "Wedding March" and the "Swan Song." There are long passages of semi-recitatives and heroics, which are perhaps greater tests of the artists' technic than more tuneful operas.

Without exception, all principal roles were excellently sung. We took especial pleasure in the singing and acting of the American baritone, Julius Huehn, in the Telramund role.

Karin Branzell as his wife, Ortrud, sang her taxing role with robustness and sturdy vocal stamina. One wished that her acting were a little more varied. Mostly, she used two gestures. Clutching her veil lightly about her, or flinging it out in the more dramatic scenes, her veil fluttered in and out like an oriental dancer's.

Emanuel List's opportunities were few as King Henry, but he did well by them, except for one very flat note in the first act. George Cehanovsky, the king's herald, earned his laurels too, although his voice seemed light-timbered in comparison with the magnificent amplitude of the others.

Maurice de Abravanel, conductor of the Metropolitan orchestra, shared in the audience's clamorous applause. The musicians contributed greatly to the successful performance. Sometime though we should like to have the Rochester Philharmonic play for a Met production. It may be insular pride, but we think it would be a notable event.

There was one ludicrously incongruous note in the performance, and that was the spectacle of the Olympian Melchior, who scales over 250, being drawn in his skiff by a small fragile swan. Or course, anything can happen in legends, and probably we are being too realistic.

Laying aside all levity, it was a gala evening for Rochester and suburbs as far as Buffalo and Syracuse. As a man in the row just back of this reviewer was heard to observe, it had some of the aspects of a church social, with much hand-waving and shouted greetings and visits among little groups.

One thing this observer hopes to see changed by next season is the increasingly flagrant practice of returning to seats late after intermissions, when the performance is already under way. It should be decided definitely whether the concerts are going to be allowed to interfere with more social aspects, or whether the concerts are really the reasons for attending.

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