21 AUGUST 1936, Page 16

Music The Salzburg Festival ARRIVING in Salzburg after the fun

had begun, I was dis- mayed to read. in an English paper that Falstaff was a frost and ini a German one that Don Giovanni was utterly miscast, misplayed and misunderstood—though there was no mention of the name of the culprit chiefly responsible for this outrage. It seemed hardly worth while to have travelled across Europe to see such performances at the end of a long and busy season -in London. This mood of pessimism was very quickly dispelled by a few bars of Falstaff under Toseannini's direction. If this was not a good performance, do not know what a good performance is. There were little faults in the pro- duction and one serious piece of miscasting—but what are these beside the miraculously clear presentation of this most difficult score in all its wit and beauty ?

This was not—and I fancy that it was on this score that complaint was made—our English Merry Wives with its burly fun that breaks no bones. There is more tartness here and more cruelty, for it has all been -translated into the Italian in spirit as well as in language. English singers of the opera, unable to forget the traditions of Shakespeare's -comedy, always tend to overplay it. Here one was surprised -at first to find ah Italian cast apparently under-playing it —but it was soon evident that they were doing nothing of the • kind. They gave us • instead of knockabout a subtle wit and a humour that was all the richer in flavour for being dry, like a good wine.

To set beside Falstaff Wolf's Der Corregidor was a littIC unfair to the German composer, who had not behind him a life-time of theatrical experience nor even much practice • in orchestration. .• Bruno Walter has touched up the score, :but it remains often bleak and -uninteresting. He has also made some rearrangements of the scenes, one of which- -the division of the scene in the Miller's cottage into two parts—seems unnecessary and without any justification. . When Wolf's inexperience is taken into account, his handling of the opera, which is based upon the same tale as de Falla's ballet The Three-cornered Hat, is far better than one would expect. There is too little variety of rhythm and tempo to • create a sense of dramatic excitement, and the opera is apt to resolve itself into a song-recital. But what good songs they are ! One is only surprised that Wolf should have included among them that most tenderly intimate of his connubial songs, " In der Schatten meinen Locken "- and given it a mocking air. The opera was not very well sung on the whole, and a good many points were missed in the production. That the Miller and his wife were anything but Spanish in appearance can hardly be excused on the ground that Wolf's music is as Nordic as they

looked. •

What, I wonder, would any German colleague have thought of the Glyndebourne Don Giovanni, in which 'Leporello more or less walked off with the whole opera, when he found in this one too much emphasis upon the comedy ? Being less prejudiced about Herr Walter's racial origins,. I found in this performance an admirable balance held between the comedy and the tragedy. There was hardly a weak place in the cast—though I have heard better Zerlinas and Leporellos and the Masetto was nothing like so good as Mr. Roy Henderson's. ,Mme. Gianninfs Donna Anna was a real aristocrat, and a beauty to wit. The touch of hardness in her voice was in character and, though she cannot really manage the coloratura in " Non mi dir," where is the singer nowadays who can ? Mme. Hilde Konetzni made a perfect foil to this tragic figure with a plump and silly Elvira, plenti- fully temperamental. Her singing was splendid in volume and attack, though I wish some producer would at last have the courage to cut her concert aria, if only because it involves the ridiculous procedure of Don Ottavio (finely sung by Signor Borgioli) sending this declassee lady to comfort: his beloved—as who should send a tabby to console-,a tigress. Signor Stabile's Don, coming after his rich, gruff Falstaff, seemed the more perfect as a presentation of a, more -gentle- 'manlike, if no. more successful, portrait of .male .seduction. But Mr. Brownke can still give him point's in the ". Chani- , pagne aria." DYNELEY HUSSEY.