Das Rheingold

Artur Bodanzky
New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Date/Location
3 April 1937
Opera House Boston
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cast
WotanFriedrich Schorr
DonnerJulius Huehn
FrohHans Clemens
LogeRené Maison
FasoltNorman Cordon
FafnerEmanuel List
AlberichEduard Habich
MimeKarl Laufkoetter
FrickaKarin Branzell
FreiaDorothea Manski
ErdaDoris Doe
WoglindeStella Andreva
WellgundeIrra Petina
FloßhildeDoris Doe
Gallery
Reviews
Boston Sunday Advertiser

RENÉ MAISON BRILLIANT IN WAGNER OPERA

As Loge in “Das Rheingold,” He Sang Music of Fire God With Authority

With an all-star cast appearing in the Metropolitan Opera Association’s presentation of “Das Rheingold” yesterday afternoon in the Boston Opera House, the first performance of Wagner’s great epic “Der Ring des Nibelungen” hereabouts in many years was opened under the most auspicious circumstances.

Perhaps the most outstanding single performance of the afternoon was that of René Maison as Loge.

In his best voice for the occasion he sang the music of the crafty fire-god with the utmost authority and his dramatic characterization of the role was at all times extremely convincing.

HABICH EXCELLENT

Eduard Habich likewise gave an excellent performance as Alberich. Friedrich Schorr was Wotan, and Karin Branzell as Fricka somewhat lacked their usual forcefulness in the portrayal of their respective roles.

The lovely music of the Rhinemaidens was exquisitely sung – Stella Andreva appearing as Woglinde, Irra Petina as Welgunde, and Doris Doe as Flosshilde.

It was, rightly enough, the orchestra which carried the performance as a whole to its successful conclusion.

The personality of Conductor Artur Bodanzky never, in fact, appeared more compelling than in the performance of this music and the orchestra surpassed itself in resonance of tone and general vitality.

ADEQUATE SETTINGS

While the stage settings of “Das Rheingold” are adequate enough, many of the illusory effects demanded by Wagner in his explicit stage directions were unfulfilled.

The steam apparatus which, on the Metropolitan stage produces clouds of smoke, simply failed to work properly on this occasion with the unfortunate result that Alberich, it was plain to be seen, did not vanish to be transformed magically into dragons and toads, but instead simply stopped for a moment behind a rock.

COSTUMES EFFECTIVE

The costumes were effective throughout, a fact which added in the characterizations of Loge and the giants, Fasolt and Fafner, particularly.

To the performance of the latter roles Norman Cordon and Emanuel List brought their usual capable performances. Mention must be made of Karl Laufkötter’s performance of Mime. (Mr. Laufkötter has generally proved one of the most valuable of the Metropolitan’s new members this season.)

That the audience was more attentive than demonstratively enthusiastic was due to the nature of the music itself.

“Das Rheingold” must be considered primarily as a preface to the three evenings proper of the “Ring” cycle. Its importance is in establishing the legendary atmosphere, and in introducing the musical motives and psychological elements which are developed in the successive operas on such a gigantic scale.

Ruth Masters

Classics Today

For Guild’s reissue of Wagner’s Das Rheingold as performed by the Metropolitan Opera forces on tour in Boston on April 3, 1937, restoration engineer Richard Caniell uncovers a noisier yet brighter, more vibrant lacquer transfer than the quieter, more muffled one he used for Naxos’ 1999 release. I defer to my colleague Robert Levine’s astute comments on the performance, which he reviewed in its Naxos guise. Here, however, Caniell revises history. He edits out all of Doris Doe’s Erda and replaces her passages with Kerstin Thorborg’s commercial studio Victor recording of similar vintage. There’s no question that Thorborg’s powerful mezzo and dramatic authority convey Erda’s warnings more urgently than Doe’s relatively bland characterization. Non-interventionists may cry bloody murder, but the substitution works well, aesthetically and sonically. Naxos’ transfer preserves the original broadcast commentary, which helps put the performance in its original context, but so do Guild’s extensive and informative notes. I’d go for the Guild, unless you’re an announcement freak, a Doris Doe completist, or (perish the thought!) both.

Artistic Quality: 8
Sound Quality: 4

Jed Distler

Rating
(8/10)
User Rating
(4.5/5)
Media Type/Label
EJS
Walhall, Naxos, Guild, OOA
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Technical Specifications
496 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 476 MByte (flac)
Remarks
Broadcast