[Met Performance] CID:10220
Aida {11} Chicago, Illinois: 12/10/1891.

(Review)


Chicago, Illinois
December 10, 1891


AIDA {11}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Lilli Lehmann
Radamès.................Jean de Reszke
Amneris.................Giulia Ravogli
Amonasro................Antonio Magini-Coletti
Ramfis..................Enrico Serbolini
King....................Lodovico Viviani
Messenger...............Mr. Grossi

Conductor...............Louis Saar

Director................Theodore Habelmann
Set Designer............Henry E. Hoyt
Costume Designer........Carl Schäffel

Aida received three performances this season.

Unsigned review in the Chicago Tribune

Jean as Reszke and Lilli Lehmann bade farewell to Chicago last evening by appearing together in Verdi's "Aida." It was a performance which for superb solo work, excellence of ensemble, and splendor scenic and spectacular effects has not been equaled in this city-a performance which marked the highest point on the standard of excellence yet reached by the Abbey-Grau Company. The presentation of "Faust" last week by this company was almost an ideal one, but just as Aida" surpasses "Faust" in musical beauty and dramatic power, so the performance last evening of Verdi's great opera surpassed in intensity and grandeur that of Gounod's masterwork.

The audience was a large one and enthusiastic to a degree not before seen this season. Curtain calls were given after every scene and at the end of the opera. It was during and after the great third act, however, that the enthusiasm was given vent in cries of "bravo," in the waving of handkerchiefs and programs, and in applause thoroughly spontaneous and hearty. After the duet, for Rhadames and Aida in this act a pause was unavoidable, so long and persistently did the audience applaud, and when the act was finished not only was the curtain raised for the performers to bow their acknowledgments, but the principals were obliged to pass before the footlights three times before the tumult was stilled. It was a royal farewell and spoke Chicago's approval of and admiration for the great artists who during the five weeks have won the respect and compelled the homage of their auditors.

Jean de Reszke's Triumph.

Jean de Rezeke's triumph as Rhadames was a triumph of voice and vocal art. Not that the dramatic side of the character was not developed. It was developed with the same consummate skill which has made his dramatic treatment of every rôle in which he has been seen truly remarkable. But Rhadames makes far greater demands upon a tenor's real powers than upon his histrionic. Much of the music is purely lyrical in character, while other portions are strongly dramatic. A singer to do it justice must, therefore, combine the qualities of a tenor de grazia and a tenor robusto - a combination but rarely found, Jean de Reszke is such, however, and his singing of the music of Rhadames is not alone satisfactory but an artistic treat of the highest kind. The famed "Celeste Aida" was sung with a smoothness, clearness, and tonal beauty which were the perfection of pure vocal art, while the impassioned music of the third act was delivered with a vigor and intensity and a display of thrilling high notes which showed how dramatic singing may become and yet never cease to be singing nor degenerate into shouting. In the scene with Amneris, in the last act, de Reszke was also eminently satisfactory.

Lehmann's Great Success.

Mme. Lehmann found in Aida a rôle which permitted a display of her splendid histrionic gifts and the music to which was more nearly suited to her vocal powers than has been any she has sung this engagement. Her success was, therefore, assured and splendidly she achieved it. Her acting of the slave Princess was forceful, intense at all times free from all exaggeration or extravagance. As for her vocal work it commands unqualified and almost unlimited praise. The "Ritorna vincitor " was given with marvelous appreciation of its sad, troubled character, and the "Numi Pieta" was beautiful in the purity and simplicity of its interpretation. In the long duet with Amneris in Act II, Mme, Lehmann's singing and acting possessed great power and in the climax at the end of the act her voice stood out with telling effect. It wee in the third act that the finest vocal work was done. Anything more satisfactory than her singing of the "Cieli auzuri" and the heavy dramatic music which follows can not be imagined. The "Vedi, di motto angolo," in the last scene of the opera was exquisite in its delicacy and poetry.

Mme. Giulia Ravogli was Amneris, and proved a timely companion for the two great artists with whom she appeared. She invested the rôle with the dignity befitting an Egyptian Princess, and her acting was at all times intelligent and often forceful. Her voice, although not powerful ehough to assert itself in some of the climaxes of the work, is nevertheless heard to good advantage in all the solo numbers. The exclamations "Vieni, amor mio" in the first scene of Act II were highly effective, and her work in the duet with Aida, which follows, merits high praise. Dramatically and vocally she was admirable in the last act, intelligence and artistic skill guiding and governing her work.

Other Members of the Cast.

Sig. Magini-Coletti made a good Amonasro, dramatically his treatment of the part being less exaggerated and wild than is usual with singers who appear in it. Vocally he appeared to better advantage than heretofore, although the excessive vibrato in his voice detracts greatly from the pleasure his singing would give were the tone steady and pure. Sig. Serbolini made a dignified Ramfis and sang the music of the part in a satisfactory manner. Sig. Viviani was the King. He sang well but seemed ill at ease when action was required. The chorus did good work, the beautiful "Hymn to Ptha" in the last scene of the first act being especially well sung.

The orchestra was directed by Herr Saar, but was at times annoyingly self-assertive. The brass, particularly, was too prominent, especially in Act II and again in the accompaniment to the phase for Amneris beginning "Alla pompa chesi appresta." Verdi has been lavish with the brass, but it should at no time be permitted to overpower the singers.



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