[Met Performance] CID:100580
Ernani {19} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 12/11/1928.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
December 11, 1928

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Ernani..................Giovanni Martinelli
Elvira..................Rosa Ponselle
Don Carlo...............Giuseppe Danise
Don Ruy Gomez de Silva..Ezio Pinza
Giovanna................Philine Falco
Don Riccardo............Giordano Paltrinieri
Jago....................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Dance...................Rosina Galli
Dance...................Giuseppe Bonfiglio

Conductor...............Vincenzo Bellezza

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Gretel Urban
Choreographer...........Rosina Galli

Ernani received five performances this season.

Review of Samuel Laciar in the Philadelphia Public Ledger


Ponselle and Martinelli Star in Fine Production Here Prior to N. Y.

The Metropolitan Opera Company of New York last evening gave one of those performances in the Academy of Music which demonstrate its unquestionable supremacy in this country and put it on a level with any of the great opera companies of the world. The work chosen was Verdi's "Ernani," one of Mr. Gatti-Casazza's revivals of the season, and Philadelphia had the first performance, although from the smoothness and spirit of the rendition it would seem as if the opera had been in constant rehearsal for weeks.

Mr. Gatti sent over a cast selected from the preeminent songbirds of his unrivaled aviary. Heading the list were Rosa Ponselle and Giovanni Martinelli, and when these two artists appear in any opera a superlative performance is almost guaranteed.

Gorgeous Work by Ballet

But there were other features which contributed to an outstanding presentation, conspicuous among which were the presence of Rosina Galli and Giuseppe Bonfiglio in a ballet gorgeous in its color scheme, lighting, graceful figures and precision of rhythm and some astonishingly fine chorus work.

"Ernani," now eighty-four years of age, belongs to that period of Italian opera when the singers were still the preeminent element, and therefore, the orchestra rarely intrudes upon the prerogatives of the voices, merely supporting them in the many great arias and ensembles, and sometimes not even doing this, but simply furnishing a tonal background.

Only in the choral numbers is the orchestra used in its full power. At the same time, there are many places in "Ernani" which anticipate the orchestration of the later and greater Verdi as well as some original instrumental touches antedating several other great operatic composers.

Ponselle Perfect Vocally

Of course, in the nature of the opera, Miss Ponselle and Mr. Martinelli bore off the honors, although Mr. Pinza, as the implacable Silva, and Mr. Danise, as the amorous and later the magnanimous Don Carlos, had extremely important roles.

Miss Ponselle, as Elvira, was superb in every respect. The role demands much dramatic, a little lyric and some coloratura work, in all of which she was perfect vocally, as well as giving a dramatic interpretation which was full of spirit and vigor. From the moment of her entrance in the first act, with the famous aria, "Ernani Involami," to the closing scene, everything she did, both in voice and action, was perfection.

Mr. Martinelli was equally fine in the title role and it seems that every time he appears here his art both broadens and deepens. The hero has many arias in the course of the opera and all were magnificently sung, while the dramatic action was equally good, as were the many ensemble numbers in which the hero has a conspicuous part.

Pinza and Danise Reach Heights

Mr. Pinza, who is not only one of the best present-day bassos, but a very great artist as well, made a splendid Silva and the sonorous aria "Infelice e tuo credevi," at the close of the first act was one of the prominent numbers of an outstanding performance, as was also his part in the dramatic closing scene of the opera.

Mr. Danise did his finest work in the third act, which is largely for the King (Don Carlos). His voice might have had a little more of power throughout, but his singing was generally excellent and he was adequate dramatically, although this is not Mr. Danise's strongest point as a singing actor. His best number was the soliloquy, "Gran Dio, costo sui sepocrali marmi" of the tomb scene, and after this act, he was recalled several times.

The minor roles of Giovanna, Ricardo and Iago were well taken by Minnie Egener, Giordano Paltrinieri and Vincenzo Reschiglian, respectively.

The ballet, as already said, was magnificent and Miss Galli made one of her too few appearances in this city. After the third act, Mr. Bellezza, who conducted splendidly, was called to the stage with the principals, and with them Giulio Setti, the chorus master, who certainly deserved this recognition, for the chorus work was one of the main features of the evening with its tonal power, beauty and perfection of intonation.

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