Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wednesday Nov 5

Enjoyed Tanhauser
at Metropolitan Opera House

Coolidge Elected President
final returns.


Matt's Notes

The 1924-1925 Metropolitan Opera season saw a new conductor, Tullio Serafin, arrive in New York amidst much fanfare, scrutiny and expectation. (According to Irving Kolodin's The Story of the Metropolitan Opera, Serafin "had been publicly considered the most desirable replacement when Toscanini left in 1915" and Met management expected him to "restore the high standards of the Toscanini era.") The production of Wagner's "Tannhauser" Papa mentions in this entry was only the second performance of the new season and the first to feature the headliner Maria Jeritza, so it must have been a hot ticket (perhaps less so for Papa, who was strictly a standing room patron and would remain so for the rest of his life.)

To get an idea of what Papa might have heard that night, check out this recording of Maria Jeritza singing an aria from "Tannhauser," courtesy of our friend the Internets:

It's slightly odd, considering how closely associated Wagner would later become with Nazi Germany, to learn that Papa "enjoyed" his work, though "Tannhauser" would have been right up Papa's alley: The music is soaring, the story is inspired by the work of the great Jewish poet Heinrich Heine1, and the plot, about a man who is torn between the realm of fantasy and the real world's practical pleasures, probably struck a chord with Papa who, as we've discussed before, struggled with his own tendency to daydream about what life should be rather than pursue what life could be. (Maybe this is a little stretch since Papa was never the lover of Venus, like Tannhauser was, but I think I'm on to something anyway.)


References for this post:

  • Check out this YouTube video of Herbert Von Karajan conducting the opening of Tannhauser:

Image sources: Venus und Tannhäuser from Richard-Wagner-Postkarten

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