[Met Performance] CID:173020

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, October 31, 1956

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (287)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Hans Sachs
Otto Edelmann

Lucine Amara

Walther von Stolzing
Albert Da Costa

Martha Lipton

Paul Franke

Gerhard Pechner

Giorgio Tozzi

John Brownlee

Charles Anthony

Calvin Marsh

Osie Hawkins

Benjamin Wilkes

Gabor Carelli

James McCracken

Louis Sgarro

Lawrence Davidson

Night Watchman
Clifford Harvuot

Fritz Stiedry

Dino Yannopoulos

Set Designer
Ellen Meyer

Zachary Solov

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Robert Sabin in the November 15, 1956 issue of Musical America

Wagner's radiant tragicomedy, one of the most civilized of all operas, was performed in inspired fashion at this, the season's first presentation. Fritz Stiedry conducted with the flexibility, the poetic feeling, the profound musical intelligence and knowledge of tradition that all seasoned Wagnerians must possess. Many of the singers, notably Otto Edelmann (as Sachs), Giorgio Tozzi (as Pogner), Gerhard Pechner (as Beckmesser), and Lucine Amara (as Eva) not only made the music sound beautiful, but conveyed the rich humanity of their roles. And the orchestra, both in ensemble passages and in the marvelous solos in which the score abounds, played with glowing color and poignance. The occasional roughnesses could be readily overlooked and even the chorus, which had its troubles with pitch and balance, was never wooden or musically inexpressive.

Ill-Mannered Audience

The artists did nobly and well. But the audience was one of the most boorish and offensive that has ever disgraced itself at the Metropolitan. People wandered in after the overture, talking loudly during the beautiful chorale; they repeated this rudeness at the beginning of each act; and positively drowned out the masterly transition between Scenes 1 and 2 of Act III, some of them standing up and surveying the house, as if Mr. Stiedry and the orchestra were playing restaurant music. Near the close, they began drifting out haphazardly, with no mercy for those who treasure the glorious final pages of the opera; and some lingered to comment on the performance audibly in the side aisles, ruining Miss Amara's lovely trill at the end of the phrase, 'Keiner wie du so hold zu werben weiss!" Such conduct is not merely barbaric; it is unpatriotic. What must the many foreigners who were there think of the United States, when the audience at our leading opera house conducts itself in so shameful a fashion?

Since the unforgettable Friedrich Schorr, we have had no finer Sachs than Mr. Edelmann. If he does not quite encompass the Shakespearian dimensions of the role, as Schorr did, he nonetheless sings it eloquently and imbues it with a wealth of penetrating dramatic detail. Nothing was more delightful than his singing of those passages in Act III, Scene 1, formerly cut but happily restored in 1947 and subsequently, in which Sachs half angrily, half humorously accepts his fate. He is enough of a poet and great enough as a human being to give place graciously to young love, as Strauss's Marschallin does. Nor should Mr. Edelmann's heartfelt singing of Sachs' address to the people go unpraised. The words "Euch macht ihr's leicht, mir macht ihr's schwer" almost trembled with tears. Here, as in many passages, one was reminded of Schorr.

Mr. Tozzi, one of the most intelligent artists now at the Metropolitan, was a lovable and imposing Pogner. Like Mr. Edelmann, he would have benefited by more weight and volume of voice in certain passages, but everything was clear and appropriately colored. This, again, was a distinguished achievement.

Amara's First Eva in New York

Miss Amara, who was heard for the first time in New York as Eva, was utterly delightful. Her fresh, luminous voice made every phrase a benison to the ears, and she acted the role enchantingly. Her German diction can still be improved, but she brought meaning to everything she sang. Eva is one of her best roles.

Mr. Pechner, long renowned for his Beckmesser, sang the role much more carefully than he has on some previous occasions, notably in Act III, Scene 1. It is a cruelly difficult task to shape the rapid vocal phrases of this marvelous role while acting it to the hilt at the same time, and Mr.

Pechner sang with true bravura.

In justice to Albert Da Costa it should be stated that he performed the role of Walther just as well as many more seasoned artists imported from Germany for that task. The dryness that marked his tone in the upper range in Act I was not so noticeable later in the opera and he was musically secure. But the impetuous charm, the ringing beauty of tone, the emotional nuance, the aristocratic bearing that this part should have are still to be attained by this young artist. He performed with becoming simplicity, and his Falstaffian appearance in the last act was not his fault, but that of his costume and make-up.

In other major roles were Martha Lipton (as Magdalene), dramatically vivid, if vocally uneven; Paul Franke (as David), excellent after some peculiar lapses into half-voice in Act I; and John Brownlee (as Kothner). The others were Charles Anthony (as Vogelgesang); Calvin Marsh (as Nachtigall); Benjamin Wilkes (as Zorn); James McCracken (as Eisslinger); Gabor Carelli (as Moser); Osie Hawkins (as Ortel); Lawrence Davidson (as Schwartz); Louis Sgarro (as Foltz), his first at the Metropolitan; and Clifford Harvuot (as the Night Watchman).

The dances in the last scene were amusingly if a bit anachronistically choreographed and well executed. Dino Yannopoulos' staging was sensible, notably in the melee in Act II, where the semi-darkness helped enormously. Ellen Meyer did as well with the dingy sets as anyone could have, and the meadow on the Pegnitz was flooded with light and color.

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