The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

Herr Schrödter (Walter) earned unqualified applause. Herr Reichmann (Wolfram) would be well advised to take Herr Schrödter as a model of how to sing into the auditorium without turning his back on precisely the person he is presumably addressing. It was really too much that Herr Reichmann should sing his "Song to the Evening Star" directly to the audience without by so much as a bend of the body acknowledging the object of his lyrical effusion. One accepts that kind of thing from an Italian tenor. If I could persuade myself that Herr Reichmann belongs in that category then there would be no grounds for carping about such transgressions.

1.
She had been in New York for the Metropolitan's second, and its first German, season. Her accomplishment there is worthy of detailed notice. Beginning on January 5, and concluding on February 20, she sang four Elisabeths, three Valentines, four Rachels and seven Brünnhildes. She was the Brünnhilde of the American premiere of Die Walküre on January 30. and repeated the performance on January 31 and February 2, 4, 7, 12 and 20, or seven times in three weeks, in the course of which she also sang Elisabeth on the 11th and 19th. The New York critics unanimously echoed Wolf's boundless admiration of this remarkable artist.

57. Die Meistersinger

September 20, 1885

Why, one wonders, must our theater management's destructive impulses toward defoliation and erosion achieve their masterpiece with precisely the most fragrant blossom in the wreath of Wagner's creations, Die Meistersinger

As if it were not sufficient, zealously to abolish every relevant and artistically treasurable detail, the vandalism is extended even to the plot and the development of the characters. The odious town clerk, for example, must content himself with playing a village idiot. Now Beckmesser is no idiot. He becomes one only through the droll situation in which he eventually finds himself. He is, in fact, a crafty scoundrel, and he thinks like one. The scene in Hans Sachs's workshop in Act III makes it plain enough. Suspicion whispers words of warning to him from each most secret nook of his bitter heart. Only when every misgiving has been exposed to his inquisitive skepticism is he content. What scoundrel, under the circumstances, would not have become as ridiculous a figure as Beckmesser? In the abridged scene customary in our productions, however, Beckmesser walks into the trap like a booby, and the fine touches with which Wagner so richly endowed this character are irresponsibly sacrificed.

What the cast accomplished in an opera so grievously cut was almost too good. Special praise, first and foremost, for the apprentices, and especially for

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