[Met Performance] CID:174000

Ring Cycle [81]
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, February 7, 1957

Götterdämmerung (176)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Martha Mödl

Ramon Vinay

Hermann Uhde

Marianne Schech

Kurt Böhme

Blanche Thebom

Lawrence Davidson

First Norn
Belén Amparan

Second Norn
Margaret Roggero

Third Norn
Gloria Lind

Heidi Krall

Rosalind Elias

Sandra Warfield

James McCracken

Osie Hawkins

Fritz Stiedry

Herbert Graf

Costume Designer
Mary Percy Schenck

Set Designer/Lighting Designer
Lee Simonson

Ring Cycle [81]

Götterdämmerung received four performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Robert Sabin in Musical America

The Metropolitan's first evening cycle of the Ring reached its towering conclusion in an eloquent performance of "Goetterdaemmerung" under Fritz Stiedry. All but four members of the huge cast (Lawrence Davidson, Blanche Thebom, Margaret Roggero, and Osie Hawkins) were making their first appearances at the Metropolitan in their respective roles. Once again, a capacity audience exhibited the keenest attention.

Everything about "Goetterdaemmerung" is superhuman - even the musical style and proportions of the work-and it calls imperatively for heroic singers and actors. In Martha Moedl the Metropolitan has found one of its most dramatically convincing Bruennhildes of this generation. Her farewell to Siegfried in the Prologue was rapturous and at the same time noble; she made the scene of the rape of the ring in Act I terrifying, as Wagner intended it to be; her entrance in Act II and her oath of vengeance on the spear were magnificent in conception and execution; and at the close she left no doubt that it was the daughter of a God who was immolating herself.

Vocally, she did not reach the same heights. Her voice was originally a mezzo-soprano and in changing into the soprano range she has had recourse to a curiously artificial production that frequently results in a thick, glottal quality and in unfocused tones. Above the staff, one never quite knew what was going to happen, but many of the phrases were excitingly clear and lustrous, and her splendid acting made one willing to overlook the vocal defects. So overwhelming had been the second act that her troubles in the final pages of the Immolation Scene could be taken in fair exchange.

Ramon Vinay, like Miss Moedl, was more powerful dramatically than vocally. In such passages as the scene with the Rhine Maidens in Act III, Scene I, in which many a Siegfried has come to grief rhythmically, he showed a command both of emotional nuance and musical detail. And he contrived to make the death both convincing and plastically smooth. But Wagner's inhuman vocal demands put a heavy burden upon him at times, especially in the Prologue and in Act II.

Hermann Uhde, one of the finest Wagnerian actors we have had at the Metropolitan in many years, was a superb Gunther in every respect. A graceful, dominant, yet never obtrusive, stage figure, he brought shades of meaning into this character that 1 had never perceived so clearly before. Unforgettable was his portrayal of Gunther's shame and confusion in Act II and his cold resolve (still shaken by doubt) before Hagen murders Siegfried. Even though his costume was an extraordinarily revealing one, he should not have pulled it down after he was dead, in the last scene, but this was a small point indeed in a very distinguished performance.

It was a delight to hear the dark, voluminous tones of Kurt Boehme's voice in the role of Hagen. Although he conceives the character as less appalling and inhuman than the illustrious Alexander Kipnis used to, he nonetheless captures its ruthlessness and contempt for humanity. Underneath his geniality with the vassals was a marvelous sense of irony and his cat-and-mouse game with Siegfried, Gunther, and Gutrune was skillfully conveyed.

The relatively light and lyrical voice of Marianne Schech was well suited to the lovely music of Gutrune, and although she scarcely conveyed its girlish timidity and gentleness in a visual sense, she sang it very beautifully indeed.

A warm word of praise should go to Heidi Krall, Rosalind Elias, and Sandra Warfield, as Woglinde, Wellgunde, and Flosshilde. How seldom does one hear Rhine Maidens who are really golden-throated! But at this performance, except for an occasional tendency for Miss Krall's gleaming voice to overbalance the others, they did full justice to Wagner's ravishing music.

The three Norns, alas, did not distinguish themselves in similar fashion, Margaret Roggero both sang well and showed that she knew what she was singing about. Belen Amparan produced some rich tones, but I could not understand a word of what she was singing and I could not help wondering if she was aware of its fateful portent. Gloria Lind was miscast as the Third Norn, a role for which her voice was far too light, and she had too many struggles with both notes and text to do herself any sort of justice.

Although Blanche Thebom did not quite match her magnificent Fricka in "Die Walkuere", her Waltraute was a striking figure and she sang with exciting urgency and poignancy. Lawrence Davidson, as Alberich, was vocally rough, but he captured much of the dark magic of the scene with Hagen before the hall of the Gibichungs, in which Mr. Boehme also projected the uncanny atmosphere of lurking evil with which the music is suffused.

Mr. Stiedry is one of the most eloquent and authoritative Wagnerian conductors we have today, and the orchestra played in inspired fashion after a somewhat dispirited [first] scene, which may have been influenced by the pallid singing of the Norns. As for the scenery and costumes, they have merely grown a little shabbier in the past six years without improving one particle. But, all in all, this was a worthy performance of one of the most overwhelming works in the history of music.

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