[Met Performance] CID:110210
Tristan und Isolde {203} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/3/1932.

(Debut: Doris Doe

Metropolitan Opera House
February 3, 1932


Tristan.................Lauritz Melchior
Isolde..................Göta Ljungberg
Kurwenal................Friedrich Schorr
Brangäne................Doris Doe [Debut]
King Marke..............Michael Bohnen
Melot...................Arnold Gabor
Sailor's Voice..........Hans Clemens
Shepherd................Hans Clemens
Steersman...............James Wolfe

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

Biggest 'Tristan' Audience at the Metropolitan in Years Gives Ovation to Göta Ljungberg as Isolde

Göta Ljungberg's Isolde was the feature of the Metropolitan Opera Company's performance last night of Wagner's opera of love and fate. The announcement of her appearance attracted an audience larger than any that had gathered for a performance of "Tristan" during Mr.Gatti-Casazza's regime. The anticipation of the audience was not disappointed. Miss Ljungberg achieved a singularly vivid, emotional and effective presentation of her role. The audience would not have enough of her. It applauded and recalled her, alone and with other members of the cast, with a fervor that had not attended any Metropolitan performance of this work in years. There was the spectacle of Wagner's "Tristan and lsolde" getting the reception accorded a particularly brilliant "Aida" or the appearance of a famous diva in some coloratura part. It is now evident that Miss Ljungberg is in the public eye the central figure of the Wagnerian casts at the Metropolitan Opera House.

And this in spite of inequalities in her equipment and a voice that is clearly shown to have its limitations and defects. Miss Ljungberg's achievement, so far as four performances explain it, is the result of intelligence, an overwhelmingly dramatic temperament and capacity for effect and in spite of some vocal lapses, the voice so successfully communicated feeling that moments of insecure intonation, high notes that had to be relinquished and a frequent vibrate were forgotten or disregarded.

Moreover, the effect of her performance appeared to have a vitalizing influence in other quarters of the stage and orchestra pit. Not again, that this was a peerless "Tristan" performance. Far from it. But once more the power of a personality, a brain and a temperament carried the day, demonstrating that only one main thing is the cause of the public indifference to the average operatic performance-namely a lack of the dramatic element. Last night the audience was aware of intense drama. It is too soon yet to say whether Miss Ljungberg can hold the advantage she has gained, almost sensationally, with the public and whether she can entrench herself and improve upon her own achievements in Wagnerian röles. But there is no gainsaying that last night she made the occasion.

She rang the changes on Isolde's emotions of the first act with a wealth of detail and variety of nuance that only occasionally defeated themselves. For sometimes, overacting or italicizing ,Miss Ljungberg emphasized detail and lost line. And sometimes she was too much to the fore as, for instance, when she received Tristan. Wagner's orchestra, Wagner's stage, here prepared the audience and centered its attention upon the hero as he steps to his fate. It is not the movement to watch : the woman stooping and nearly falling to the chords of the strings in the orchestra. In the beginning of the second act the action was so impetuous that the great moment of the extinction of the torch lost much of its majesty and fatality, that moment symbolic of the last farewell to honor and abandonment of all that the night portends, when the orchestra gives the gesture a portentousness and fatality which should be given their full due on the stage.

In later episodes of this act Miss Ljungberg. by coloring her tones, by the feeling and passion felt in the song even when it was not the finest tonal texture or wholly adequate to the range, flight and sonority of the music, made certain moments unforgettable. The impetuosity of the greeting to Tristan gave place to a sudden deep languor in the voice as Isolde invoked the night, and her part in the ensuing duet was sung as if she and Tristan were far from a world well lost. The final dramatic touch was the shivering sigh as Tristan, struck by Melots sword, sank in her arms. Thus the first two acts. The end of the last cannot be recounted here.

Miss Doris Doe made her Metropolitan debut as Brangaene. The quality of the voice and past accomplishments of the singer justified her engagement. but it was evident last night that her experience of the stage is limited and it must be said that a role such as this one is no small order for a debutante, however gifted, to fill. Miss Doe will represent herself much more fully in the future performances. She was very cordially applauded and called before the curtain.

The other features of the cast are known to Metropolitan patrons. Mr. Melchior, an unromantic and unimpressive Tristan of the first act, had hard places in his voice, though the duet of the second act was pitched better than usual and his tone became warmer and richer as the evening progressed. Mr. Bohnen's Mark had the authority and the rare dramatic power that he gives it and Mr. Schorr's Kurvenal was distinguished by his customary admirable singing. Mr. Bodanzky conducted with usual spirit.

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