[Met Tour] CID:128460

American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, March 19, 1940

Parsifal (147)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Lauritz Melchior

Kirsten Flagstad

Herbert Janssen

Alexander Kipnis

Walter Olitzki

Norman Cordon

Voice/Flower Maiden
Doris Doe

First Esquire
Natalie Bodanya

Third Esquire
Karl Laufkötter

Fourth Esquire
Lodovico Oliviero

First Knight
George Cehanovsky

Second Knight
Louis D'Angelo

Flower Maiden
Irene Jessner

Flower Maiden
Irra Petina

Second Esquire/Flower Maiden
Helen Olheim

Flower Maiden
Hilda Burke

Flower Maiden
Thelma Votipka

Erich Leinsdorf

Review 1:

Review of Henry Pleasants in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

The Metropolitan Closes Local Season With "Parsifal"

The Metropolitan Opera Company brought its local season to a close in the Academy of Music last night with the first performance of "Parsifal" Philadelphia has had in nine years. A capacity audience assembled for the exceptional occasion, most of them on hand promptly at 7.

The cast was entirely new. The principals of the last "Parsifal" here do not come accurately to mind. Special matinee performances were given annually for a time prior to 1931, and one remembers the Parsifals of Walter Kirchhoff and Rudolf Laubenthal, the Gurnemanz of Michael Bohnen, the Amfortas of the late Gustav Schützendorf, the Kundry of Gertrude Kappel and the Klingsor of Arnold Gabor. The late Artur Bodanzky was usually the conductor. One performance was conducted by Tullio Serafin.

The German wing of the Metropolitan was good in those days, but it is better now. Lauritz Melchior was last night's Parsifal; Kirsten Flagstad, the Kundry, Herbert Janssen, the Amfortas, Alexander Kipnis, the Gurnemanz and Walter Olitzki, the Klingsor. The remarkable thing about the performance was, for the younger generation of operagoers at least, the extraordinary quality of the singing. A decade ago one was resigned more or less to enjoying Wagner despite some bad vocal sounds. The Wagnerians tessitura posed no problems for last night's singers, and everyone sang in tune.

The most distinguished performances were those of Mr. Kipnis and Mr. Janssen. Gurnemanz's long monologues had, for once, an absorbing dramatic interest and Amfortas' so easily tedious conflicts between pain and duty were expressed in a type of superior singing that gave a conception of agony rather than an example of it. Miss Flagstad sang easily and well, although Kundry is hardly likely to go down in musical history as one of her superior dramatic accomplishments. Mr. Melchior also sang well, although without projecting the feeling of consecration which has brought distinction to other Parsifals whose vocalization was considerably inferior.

The tenor certainly contributed nothing to his characterization by reposing in his dressing room or elsewhere back-stage during the first scene in the Temple of the Grail. One remembers Mr. Kirchhoff standing 35 minutes with his arms extended horizontally in the sign of the cross during this scene. Mr. Melchior simply showed up as the Knights filed out. This procedure lent a certain unwonted credibility to Parsifal's reticence in answering Gurnemanz's "Weisst du, was du Sah'st?" but it was a license hardly worthy of the ranking heldentenor of the generation.

Of Mr. Leinsdorf's conducting it may be said that it was assured and musicianly, but it wove no spell of exalted mysticism. This must be entered as a minority opinion, for the conductor was accorded a prolonged ovation at the beginning of the last act. Edward Johnson, general manager of the Metropolitan, was introduced by H. Birchard Taylor during the second intermission and spoke briefly and optimistically of the company's present problems.

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