[Met Tour] CID:149080

American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, December 7, 1948

Götterdämmerung (165)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Helen Traubel

Lauritz Melchior

Herbert Janssen

Polyna Stoska

Dezsö Ernster

Margaret Harshaw

Gerhard Pechner

First Norn
Jean Madeira

Second Norn
Martha Lipton

Third Norn
Jeanne Palmer

Inge Manski

Maxine Stellman

Hertha Glaz

Emery Darcy

Osie Hawkins

Fritz Stiedry

Review 1:

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin
The Met’s “Götterdämmerung” Heard at the Academy

The Metropolitan Opera Association opened its Philadelphia 1948-49 season unconventionally with Richard Wagner’s stupendous “Götterdämmerung.”

A large audience was mostly seated at starting time – 7:30 P. M. – though a few late stragglers made listening to the three Norns not an unalloyed pleasure. The opera was over at midnight.

This was a solid, fine but not outstanding performance. There was a good deal of noise back stage, which is perhaps not remarkable with the company operating its new scenery away from home base.

“Götterdämmerung” had not been heard here since the Metropolitan brought it over on March 27, 1945. Helen Traubel and Lauritz Melchior headed the cast on that earlier occasion as they did again last evening. They sang with more ease and power four years ago.

Fritz Stiedry replaced George Szell (who conducted the opera in 1945), and hardly duplicated the accomplishment of his predecessor when it came to excitement and dramatic tension. Mr. Stiedry seemed leisurely at times, but his account of the great score had breadth and a dignity which was always illuminating in its knowledge.

The new scenery of Lee Simonson is just new scenery. Twenty years ago, when new scenery for the Metropolitan was not news, it would have stirred but conventional interest. Obviously designed for economy, Mr. Simonson’s sets are not as vast or evocative as some of the older scenes we have witnessed.

He depicts the Rhine as a cross between a Western canyon and a Norwegian fjord, but the feeling of a Nordic saga is somehow preserved. The magic lantern effects of fire and flood are pictorial but unexciting. This is not a décor that stirs the imagination or furthers the epic grandeur and poetry of the opera, but it is entirely adequate and obviously serviceable.

Miss Traubel does not sing as well as she sang a few seasons ago, but her voice is still a beautiful instrument at its best, placed at the disposal of a distinguished and refined style. She pumped considerably on her high notes last evening, and the high C at the close of the Prologue was summarily omitted. This is a mature and dignified Brünnhilde.

Mr. Melchior, barring an occasional moment of constriction, seems to be in league with the passing years, for his voice retains its firmness and clarion impact.

The “Götterdämmerung” Siegfried is surely one of the admired tenor’s best roles at this stage in his career, and his narrative and subsequent death are highly communicative episodes.

Dezso Ernster’s Hagen is properly violent and brutal. His large, rough voice is well suited to the roles.

Polyna Stoska was new here as Gutrune, and Jean Browning Madeira, a young contralto, made an excellent impression as the First Norn – a Philadelphia debut in her case.

Herbert Janssen was new here as Gunther, and Margaret Harshaw was one of the outstanding elements of the big cast, singing her one scene with unusual roundness and vocal security.

The audience seemed glad to have the Metropolitan back once more, lavishing applause on the principals.

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