Fritz Stiedry
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra
12 April 1952
Metropolitan Opera New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
AmfortasHans Hotter
TiturelLjubomir Vischegonov
GurnemanzJerome Hines
ParsifalHans Hopf
KlingsorGerhard Pechner
KundryMargaret Harshaw
GralsritterEmery Darcy
Osie Hawkins
Herald Tribune

Harshaw as Kundry

Sings ‘Parsifal’ Role for First Time at Met

Margaret Harshaw has solidified her newly gained position in the galaxy of our Wagnerian singers by adding to her repertory another soprano role, that of Kundry, which she sang here for the first time in yesterday afternoon’s performance of “Parsifal” at the Metropolitan Opera House.

The former contralto, who has come into her own of late as a top-flight opera singer since discovering that her potentialities are best realized as a soprano, had appeared in the role Tuesday in Philadelphia on the Metropolitan’s visit to that city. But the assurance and style with which she performed yesterday were of a degree to make one think she had a long association with the difficult part.

Kundry’s ambivalence between good and evil has long been an elusive quality for singing actors to grasp, and Miss Harshaw will doubtless penetrate its depths further when she has more experience with the role. But she is clearly one of the great Wagnerian singers of the day. One suspects she may have been conserving her energies during the first part of the garden scene, where the coloring was at a minimum. But she did extraordinarily well with the last part of Act II, where the vocal line continually rises to notes above the staff. Such consistently clear, luminous high tones are very rare indeed for Wagner. When she first made the shift from contralto the low notes suffered. But now the ranges are equalized, and everything is wonderfully projected.

Miss Harshaw, in addition, moves across the stage with litheness, and if there were a few clumsy moments in her efforts to seduce Parsifal, these may not have been entirely her own fault. For, yesterday’s Parsifal, Hans Hopf, was new to us too, and both need more joint stage experience in executing this scene. Mr. Hopf, who turned in a performance that was vocally of high order, showed that he is not attuned to the Met’s stage set-up, or vice-versa. When the spear drawn by invisible wire reached his vicinity it was above his grasp, and it dangled in air a bit before he rescued it.

But this was a minor detail in a performance that gave a far more favorable account of the German tenor’s capacities than the occasion of his local debut a month ago in “Die Meistersinger.” His singing was very fine, indeed, and Wagnerian repertory at the Met benefits greatly from his presence.

For Fritz Stiedry, the conductor, and those (mostly the orchestra) who participated in all the performances, four “Parsifal”s (three of them in New York) in a week and one day were a large order. But the orchestra sounds were brilliant and polished, and the supporting cast was a delight. Jerome Hines, in his first Gurnemanz of the season, was vocally suave, if a shade pale in expressivity and warmth.

The Metropolitan Opera Association, which ended its season last night with a repetition of Verdi’s “Traviata” with a familiar cast, goes on tour today leaving us with a highly favorable impression of the final days of its season here.

Arthur Berger

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Archipel, OOA, OA
Get this Recording
Donate $5 to download flac
Technical Specifications
281 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 472 MiB (flac)
Matinee broadcast
A production by Richard Ordynski (1920)