[Met Performance] CID:121600

World Premiere, New Production

The Man Without a Country
Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, May 12, 1937

Debut : Helen Traubel, Daniel Harris, Maria Matyas, David Twachtman

The Man Without a Country (1)
Walter Damrosch | Arthur Guiterman
Lieutenant Philip Nolan
Arthur Carron

Mary Rutledge
Helen Traubel [Debut]

Harman Blennerhassett/Admiral of the Algerine Fleet/5th Midshipman
George Rasely

Aaron Burr/Boatswain
Joseph Royer

Colonel Morgan/4th Midshipman/Midshipman Ahearn
John Gurney

Parke/3rd Officer/1st Midshipman
Nicholas Massue

Fairfax/5th Officer
Lodovico Oliviero

Lieutenant Pinckney
Wilfred Engelman

Lieutenant Reeve
George Cehanovsky

Negro Boatman/2nd Officer/2nd Midshipman/Midshipman Denton
Donald Dickson

1st Officer/3rd Midshipman
Daniel Harris [Debut]

American Girl
Thelma Votipka

American Girl
Maxine Stellman

American Girl
Lucielle Browning

American Girl
Maria Matyas [Debut]

American Girl
Jarna Paull

Commodore Stephen Decatur/Sergeant O'Neil
Louis D'Angelo

Captain Morris
Norman Cordon

Surgeon/Captain Sedley/4th Officer
Robert Nicholson

Private Schwartz
Ludwig Burgstaller

Walter Damrosch [Last performance]

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
David Twachtman [Debut]

Twachtman designed only the set for Act II; no designer is credited in the program for Act I.
THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY received four performances this season and a total of five in two seasons.

Review 1:

Review of Lawrence Gilman in The New York Herald Tribune:

Last night's premiere of Walter Damrosch's opera, "The Man Without a Country", was more than the first performance of an American opera; the occasion assumed the aspects of a Damroschian apotheosis, with an audience of almost winter size and modishness acclaiming the hero of the evening with a fervor that must have warmed his capacious heart. His newest opera is, it may be affirmed at once, not only the best that Mr. Damrosch has given us, but it has an astonishing freshness of feeling, an infectious gusto. It is impossible to doubt that Mr. Damrosch enjoyed enormously the fun of writing it almost as much as he quite obviously enjoyed the fun of conducting it last night, with an engaging mixture of expert watchfulness over the performers' treatment of his score and of measureless benevolence when things went to his liking.

Mr. Damrosch has dealt simply and unpretentiously with a simple and unpretentious tale. He has not attempted to give us a music drama a la Richard (Strauss or Wagner). He has paid no heed to the siren temptings of ultra-modern composers. His music moves fluently, with apt and appropriate relation to what is happening on stage and in the hearts of his characters. It stops to let them speak, or it accompanies discreetly their spoken words. Once in a while, it goes alone on its own, as in the orchestral prelude to the second act. Sometimes the music is richly flavored with tinctures of the past, sometimes it is straight Damrosch. It would be fantastic to expect a sensitive musician to conduct as much great music by other men as Mr. Damrosch has done without some of it becoming part of his mental tissue.

Mr. Damrosch is fortunate in the production his opera receives. The settings are attractive; the direction is intelligent and alert; and the cast, on the whole, performs most capably. Miss Helen Traubel, a newcomer from St. Louis, a woman of noble and gracious beauty brings to the role of Mary Rutledge a voice of power and fine quality, and [her] embodiment of the heroine was moving through its restraint and sincerity.

Additional reviews of Helen Traubel:

The New York Mirror:?

Miss Traubel, the debutante, has a regal voice, somewhat short in range, and a stage presence that is arresting. She would make a valuable addition to the Wagnerian wing.

H. F. B. The Brooklyn Eagle:


Miss Traubel as Mary Rutledge does an excellent job with a rather static role. Her voice, large and mellow though it is, tends to wobble a bit too much particularly on high notes. One difficulty seems to be that she has to yell to be heard above the orchestra which sometimes sounds as if it were composed of strikebreakers.

Pitts Sanborn, New York World Telegram:


Miss Traubel was a handsome and graceful figure and her voice, in spite of a tendency to tightness, is obviously exceptional. One thought of her as a potential Isolde and Bruennhilde.

W. J. Henderson,The New York Sun:


Of the singers, reference already has been made to the success of Miss Traubel, who made her Metropolitan debut as Mary. This success was primarily a singing one. She spoke her lines well but her stage technic was of the most rudimentary order. She can be taught to make more of the stature as well as the voice for Wagnerian roles. The soprano comes from St. Louis and is of German extraction. It is said that she has sung extensively in other spheres, including that of radio, but this was her first appearance in opera. Mature of voice and figure she gave clear hints of possibilities in heroic parts beyond those of the ordinary operatic fledgling. Her singing had power, her compass was an extended one, her tone was solid, steady and true with the scale well equalized. Moreover, her English diction was exceptionally good. Still to be answered are questions as to the adaptability of these assets to dramatic and artistic purposes; and a further question as to whether the quality of the voice is not already a little worn.

Additional newspaper

Review 2:

Review of Helen Traubel

The American:

The outstanding performance was that of Helen Traubel, who sang the part of Mary Rutledge, making her debut on the Metropolitan stage. She proved a soprano of rare gifts, with a particularly warm, opulent and beautiful quality of voice and moreover, a woman of exceptional beauty. One may state unreservedly that Miss Traubel is the most valuable addition so far to the Spring season's new members.

New York Daily News:

Miss Traubel, a native of St. Louis and graduate of the radio, possesses a glorious dramatic soprano and is potentially the most important American singer to come to the Met in a dozen years.

Olin Downes in The New York Times:

Helen Traubel of St. Louis made her debut on the Metropolitan stage as Mary. She has a big voice, of unusual capacity for dramatic expression, though her English was not as finished as Mr. Carron's. Here is an unusual vocal organ and talent for broad effects on the stage.

Brooklyn Eagle:

Miss Traubel, as Mary Rutledge, does an excellent job with a rather static role. Her voice, large and mellow though it is, tends to wobble a bit too much, particularly on high notes. One difficulty seems to be that she has to yell to be heard above the orchestra, which sometimes sounds as if were composed of strike-breakers.

Search by season: 1936-37

Search by title: The Man Without a Country,

Met careers