[Met Performance] CID:165320

Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, March 26, 1954

Parsifal (190)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Charles Kullman

Astrid Varnay

George London

Ferdinand Frantz [Last performance]

Gerhard Pechner

Luben Vichey

Jean Madeira

First Esquire
Genevieve Warner

Second Esquire
Mildred Miller

Third Esquire
Paul Franke

Fourth Esquire
Gabor Carelli

First Knight
James McCracken

Second Knight
Osie Hawkins

Flower Maiden
Lucine Amara

Flower Maiden
Maria Leone

Flower Maiden
Hertha Glaz

Flower Maiden
Heidi Krall

Flower Maiden
Jean Fenn

Flower Maiden
Margaret Roggero

Fritz Stiedry

Herbert Graf

Joseph Urban

Parsifal received three performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Robert Sabin in Musical America

The season's first performance of Wagner's "Parsifal" introduced a new Gurnemanz to Metropolitan Opera audiences: Ferdinand Frantz. James McCracken, also, was heard for the first time there in the role of the First Knight of the Grail. The rest of the cast were familiar in their roles: Charles Kullman, as Parsifal; Astrid Varnay, as Kundry; George London, as Amfortas; Lubomir Vichegonov, as Titurel; Gerhard Pechner, as Klingsor; and, in other parts, Jean Madeira, Osie Hawkins, Genevieve Warner, Mildred Miller, Paul Franke, and Gabor Carelli. The leading Flower Maidens, who sang exceptionally well, were Lucine Amara, Maria Leone, Herta Glaz, Heidi Krall, Jean Fenn, and Margaret Roggero.

The music of "Parsifal," like that of "Siegfried," is especially close to Fritz Stiedry's heart, and he invariably conducts it with glowing imagination and tenderness. Singers, chorus and orchestra brought a spirit of consecration to this performance, which was much smoother than the first "Parsifal" of the season usually is at the Metropolitan.

Mr. Frantz, always an intelligent and discerning artist, sang the role of Gurnemanz eloquently. Occasionally one wished for greater weight of voice and impact of personality, but the feeling was always right and the various shades of the character were skillfully delineated. Thus, the gruff impatience of Gurnemanz in Act I had mellowed into loving-kindness in Act III. Mr. Frantz brought a note of touching naiveté into the dialogue with Parsifal in the Good Friday scene; he made the old man extraordinarily lifelike.

Mr. Kullman acted the title role so well that his lack of vocal power in the climaxes was easily discounted. He was especially effective in Act II in the scene with the Flower Maidens and Kundry, which can easily lose its dramatic tension if it is clumsily handled. Miss Varnay's Kundry is the most gripping and the most subtly thought-out of any I have ever encountered, with the sole exception of Kerstin Thorborg's unforgettable impersonation of this baffling figure. She sang and acted beautifully at this performance and her voice was notably lustrous in the sustained pianos and pianissimos of the narrative and temptation episodes.

Although I was deeply impressed by George London's Amfortas before, it seemed even better this season, both in plastique and in vocal assurance. Mr. London leaves nothing to chance or the whim of the moment; he has the finish of a veteran, young as he is. The others in the cast also deserve praise for a memorably eloquent performance.

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