[Met Performance] CID:213340

Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, January 29, 1968

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday

The Metropolitan's "Lohengrin," conceived by the late Wieland Wagner and executed, after his death, by Peter Lehmann was, in every visual respect, an improvement on the way it looked when new. Not only the projections but the lighting, generally, struck me as steadier, better focused than they had been a year ago. A new detail was an inconspicuous (but doubtless useful) series of guardrails designed to provide a sense of security to the chorus in its long-sustained postures on the tiered stand it occupies.

To the ear, however, the results were disappointingly unequal. The two continuing elements - Sandor Konya as Lohengrin, John Macurdy as the King - were about as they had been (Macurdy a little more assured, perhaps; Konya a little less, but making do, through experience and theatrical know-how, for some present difficulties of production). Walter Cassel's workmanlike Telramund was a point of leverage between strengths and weaknesses.

The latter embraced the experiment that offered Martina Arroyo for the first time as the performer of a German soprano role. Elsa is, of course, a borderline part which has been sung well by some other sopranos primarily identified with the Italian repertory. In terms of range and volume, Arroyo qualified more than acceptably. But her spread, unfocused tones lacked the sheen and leanness to define the line of this carefully drawn part, especially in the crucial vision of the first act and "Euch Lüiften" in the second. Her German enunciation was deficient in its vowel sounds, contributing more uncertainty to the total vocal sound. As Miss Arroyo is hampered by a lack of illusion in her appearance and movements, she must do much more, vocally, with the part if it is to become established in her repertory.

Ludmila Dvorakova's Ortrud was, like her Isolde of last season, a valiant but unequal struggle against a voice overmatched by such Wagnerian requirements. The "soprano" for whom the composer conceived the part may not have been the specialist that some mezzo Ortruds now are, but what he imagined was a performer with more weight and substance at the bottom and middle of the range than Dvorakova possesses. If she sometimes produced a brighter sound at the top than Arroyo did, the full effect inherent in Ortrud's part was diminished by insufficient darkness of quality at the bottom, Berislav Klobucar's "Lohengrin," like his" Dutchman," was competent, methodical, and lacking the fervor or impulse a suitable conductor of Wagner should exert.

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