[Met Performance] CID:127040

Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, December 1, 1939 Matinee

Tannhäuser (313)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Lauritz Melchior

Lotte Lehmann

Lawrence Tibbett

Dorothee Manski

Emanuel List

Karl Laufkötter

Giordano Paltrinieri

George Cehanovsky

John Gurney

Maxine Stellman

Ruthanna Boris

Monna Montes

Lillian Moore

Beatrice Weinberger

Doris Neal

Ruth Harris

Grant Mouradoff

George Chaffee

Erich Leinsdorf

Leopold Sachse

Set Designer
Hans Kautsky

Costume Designer
Mathilde Castel-Bert

Boris Romanoff

Tannhäuser received seven performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Jerome D. Bohm in the Herald Tribune

"Tannhäuser" Presented With Lotte Lehmann

Melchior Sings Title Role at Metropolitan; Tibbett and List Also Appear

Had Richard Wagner been present to witness this presentation, there can be little doubt that he would have been impelled to rename his opera "Elisabeth." For it was Mme. Lehmann's matchless delineation of the work's central female figure which lent distinction to an otherwise often tedious afternoon. M. Melchior's impersonation of the title part has never been one of most impressive, either from the vocal or dramatic aspects. On this occasion it was apparent from his first utterance that he was not well disposed. These first phrases, addressed to Venus, are notoriously difficult, because they lie high, and must be sung softly. But Mr. Melchior's half-voice singing has always been husky and his efforts to project these [first] measures, which he attempted to simplify by hurrying, did not auger well for what was to come. Seldom was the tenor's voice produced in anything but a constricted manner so that his tones emerged brassy in texture. As Venus, Mme. Manski's allure consisted largely of wobbly, unfocused appeals to Tannhäuser; under the circumstances he could hardly be blamed for wishing to quit the Venusberg.

As Wolfram, Mr. Tibbett exhibited the intelligence which is always to be observed in his characterizations. But this music demands a more tender approach. Wolfram is no blustering knight, but a sentimental, self-effacing lover. Mr. Tibbett, who not to the benefit of his music, sang in a more open manner than he ordinarily does, changed his makeup for the part and supplied himself with a strange false nose which he would do well to discard speedily.

Mme. Lehmann's Elisabeth remains the most moving portrayal of this character to be seen anywhere today. The soprano was in good voice, the momentary uncertainly noticeable in the culminating high "B" of "Dich teure Halle" did not mar her otherwise admirable publication of the aria. But it was in the subsequent scenes with Tannhäuser, and above all in her defense of the erring knight,

"Zurueck von ihm," that she did her most affecting, thrilling work. Her ability to convey the meaning of every word of the text and to submerge herself in every facet of Elisabeth's nature, and to reflect the womanliness and spirituality of Wagner's creation remains one of the finest things to be experienced on the operatic stage. Aside from Mme. Lehmann's superlative achievement, the best singing of the afternoon was vouchsafed by Miss Stellman in the Shepherd's joyous greeting to May.

Mr. Leinsdorf's contribution was an uneven one. Last season his tendency was to drag the tempi throughout the opera. Yesterday, his pacing was now too slow, as in all of Wolfram's music, and again as in the "Entrance of the Guests into the Wartburg," too fast, so that the chorus could not keep pace therewith. But despite these restrictions, there was much in his interpretation of the score that was genuinely dramatic and telling. There was a large audience present and the participants, especially Mme. Lehmann, were fervently applauded.

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