[Met Tour] CID:177310

Tristan und Isolde
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, March 4, 1958

Tristan und Isolde (365)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Ramon Vinay

Margaret Harshaw

Walter Cassel

Blanche Thebom

KIng Marke
Otto Edelmann

Calvin Marsh

Sailor's Voice
Robert Nagy

Paul Franke

Osie Hawkins

Fritz Stiedry

Review 1:

Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Examiner
“Tristan” Superbly Sung

The city's only Wagnerian performance of the 1957-58 season occurred at the Academy of Music, last night, as the Metropolitan Opera Association offered the immortal love-drama, “Tristan und Isolde."


A large and enthusiastic audience applauded, a performance which was uneven, but contained moments of great merit. The last time "Tristan" came to Philadelphia was on March 15, 1955 with Fritz Steidry conducting a cast that enlisted Astrid Varnay, Set Svanholm, Martha Lipton, Josef Metternich, and Dezo Ernster.


Mr. Steidry was on the podium again last night, conducting a performance that gained in intensity and eloquence as it progressed. Rather tame during the first act, Mr. Steidry began responding to the white-heat of the love drama in the second act, and finally rose to the tremendous challenge of Tristan's delirium in the final scene, which became unusually moving.

The program stated with much candor that the scenery was Joseph Urban's of 1920 vintage and that it had been repainted by Joseph Novak in 1938; it could stand further repainting and refurbishing. Some of the scenes, such as the ocean that surrounds the ship, were on the makeshift side.

Margaret Harshaw and Ramon Vinay appeared as the ill- fated lovers. Miss Harshaw's first-act costume was not becoming, but she looked lovely in the subdued lighting of the second act. Her singing was for the most part clear, steady, and well-phrased.

It was a pity that portions of the Liebestod sounded tentative and that Miss Harshaw almost ruined matters by turning to look at the conductor at the moment when she rushes to clasp the dying Tristan. Nevertheless, the Philadelphia's soprano's impersonation has a certain purity and dignity, which is extremely touching, and her voice has no trouble with the highest notes.

Mr. Vinay, who has sung Tristan in Bayreuth, made a wonderful looking hero at his first entrance. The baritonal timbre of his voice suits the music, though there were evidences of fatigue in the final exhausting scene which was ever impressive in its communication.

Blanche Thebom was a vigilant and alert Brangäne, very detailed in the first act, and seeing to it that no one would miss the substituting of the potions. She was in excellent voice and offered a sympathetic impersonation.

Walter Cassel, who has suddenly developed into one of the Metropolitan's most versatile artists, was a splendid Kurvenal. His beautiful, fresh baritone adorned the music of the last act, and he was so solicitous of his expiring master, that everyone was sorry when it came his turn to die. Added performances of the role will iron out a few uncertainties.

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