The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

this girl, animated both by fear and by love, who longs for her lover and yet recoils before his appearance, which may bring with it the disclosure of a secret she has been suspecting with ever increasing apprehension. Signora Turolla managed to make of this Romanza, with the implications just noted, an interesting and convincing achievement. Despite all that, we cannot reward her with unqualified praise. Signora Turolla can be as offensive as she is also attractive. If she sang the Romanza like an artist, in the duet with Eudora (Act IV) she was, thanks to wretched excesses, both vocal and dramatic, a perfectly ordinary ham actress. The fatal forced chest tones, particularly, are often the Moloch of her passionate outbursts, to whom the loveliest blossoms of her talent are sacrificed. As long as she serves this idol, she will, indeed, arouse our interest, but never excite the inner exaltation and rapture that come only with the compelling truth of a perfectly artistic accomplishment.

Next to Signora Turolla the dominant figure was Herr Rokitansky with his bottomless bass in the role of the Cardinal. Herr Wiegand was a splendid protagonist of the redoubtable Lord Mayor Ruggiero, an eager anti-Semite who would have little truck with Jews. The figure of Ruggiero is the most sympathetically touching in this opera. How dull, how insipid, how miserable, by contrast, is Prince Leopold, especially as sung by Herr Schittenhelm. The Jew Eléazar, too, is hardly an amiable character. Herr Broulik1 seemed ill at ease in the Jewish kaftan. I don't blame him. Fräulein Lehmann was more than the noble Princess. She "chilled right to the heart." In her singing as well as in her facial expressions she suggested not the slightest leaning toward the weakling Leopold. Fräulein Lehmann herself may be quite right about this, but a Princess Eudora should summon more warmth and passion. The librettist and the composer demand it. There was a large audience, and no want of applause.

1.
Franz Broulik ( 1853- ? ), who had joined the company in 1882 and would leave at the end of the 1883-1885 season to continue his career in Budapest.

20. Hapless Guests

June 1, 1884

How is it that our opera house so readily opens its doors to every singer who entertains the notion of making a debut there? Be the singer serviceable or not, a somebody or a nobody, whether he be from a theater of the first rank or the second, whether he be of good repute or bad, he is taken on for a guest engagement, and that's that, period. The management may reckon the matter

-54-

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