The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

Gounod's opera, too. He had, on this occasion, a worthy partner in Frau Plankensteiner-Wilt as Marguerite. She chirped in the love scene like a languishing grasshopper, and was, in fact, more amusing to hear than one had expected. Herr Udvardy may be a star in Königsberg, and Frau Plankensteiner-Wilt3well placed in Olmütz, but the boards of our opera house are too hot for those who have not survived a baptism of fire in another major theater. This is something the two guests might well have considered. More to the point, the management, in view of their utter inadequacy, should never have agreed to their appearance. Fortunately, Frau Paumgartner-Papier, the darling of our public, was the Siebel, and the golden tones of her sumptuous voice threw a transfiguring lustre upon poor Faust and poor Marguerite, rendered the more pitiable by the ghastly self-deception of the two guests.

1.
"mit wenig Witz und viel Behagen," Mephistopheles's wry comment to Faust on the inebriate revelry in Auerbach's cellar.
2.
" So ein Lied, das Stein erweichen und Menschen rasend machen kann," from " Die Katzen und der Hausherr," one of Vier Äsopische Fabeln by Gottfried Lichtwer ( 1719- 1783).
3.
Frau Plankensteiner-Wilt may have retreated to Olmütz, but Anton Udvardy went on to New York for the first German season at the Metropolitan ( 1884-1885), where, in very distinguished company, he sang Max, Florestan, Don Ottavio, the Duke in Rigoletto, Raoul, Arnold and Eléazar.

21. Lohengrin and Tristan
und Isolde with
Sucher and Vogl

June 8, 1884

Frau Sucher1 from Hamburg and Herr Vogl2 from Munich as guests in our opera house -- that's something to hear! Vogl | bird | is well known by his song, and in Frau Sucher | searcher | we have long acknowledged a rich find. Elsa and Lohengrin were the debut roles of their engagement.

How lovely Elsa looked as she made her entrance! "Wie erschien sie so licht und rein!" 3 She was the embodiment of innocence personified. How noble and natural her movements, how chaste her bearing, how softly transfigured her features! Gone every trace of Frau Sucher, and in her stead -- Elsa!

The illusion, unfortunately, was not always sustained. The "Dream" was initially rapt and tender, despite a voice neither very mellow nor very pliant.

-56-

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