The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

Herr Scaria, as Hercules, was adequately absurd. One would, indeed, be hard put to accept this symbol of muscularity as other than a figure of fun. The final tableau is marvelous. Dear parents, if you want to give your little ones a treat, don't fail to send them to the finale. This peep show cannot fail to delight them.

1.
This revival, on October 4, was the first since 1810, when the opera was mounted for Pauline Anna Milder-Hauptmann , the first Leonore in Fidelio. It was sung in the Italian original, and was a disaster. At the third performance, according to the Vienna correspondent of the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, the theater (the Kärntnerthor) was empty. Milder-Hauptmann subsequently sang the title role with great success elsewhere, notably in Berlin.

59. Roster Problems

October 18, 1885

The approaching season heralded itself on the stage of our opera house in the form of a farewell performance. Frau Kupfer, 1 as Marguerite in Boito's Mefistofele, appeared for the last time upon our local stage where, for a good many years, she has moved with tolerable competence. We suffer in her departure no irreparable loss, for Frau Kupfer was only rarely able to raise her achievement above a certain respectable mediocrity. She is replaceable.

But where is the replacement? One must look around, but will a replacement be found immediately? Was it clever, then, to abandon a serviceable singer before being assured of another, presumably better? We have finally grown accustomed to Frau Kupfer's less than perfect accomplishments. It might be noted in so saying that our sensibilities have gradually been dulled over the years, if not quite to the point where we could remain unreceptive to the improvement of her modest talent, especially in recent seasons. This last consideration need not have been thought overriding by the management had they been able to substitute better for merely good.

As of the moment, however, nothing has been done. Or does one think to have found better in Fräulein Klein? In that case it hardly promises well for the visible aspect of those Wagnerian heroines to whom Frau Kupfer has heretofore lent the outer contours [a pun derived from the fact that klein in German means small?]. No, we would prefer to await succor [ Sukkurs, a play on the name of Rosa Sucher] from Brünn or Olmütz, where so many lovely nightingale eggs have been hatched, not a few of them subsequently recognized on foreign boards as cuckoo eggs, and dispatched in due course to the cuckoo [Kuckuck, in German, serving also as a euphemism for the devil].

-156-

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