[Met Performance] CID:10250
Roméo et Juliette {3} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/14/1891.

(Opening Night {9}
Henry E. Abbey and Maurice Grau, General Managers

Metropolitan Opera House
December 14, 1891
Opening Night {9}

Under the Direction of Henry E. Abbey and Maurice Grau


Roméo...................Jean de Reszke
Juliette................Emma Eames
Frère Laurent...........Edouard de Reszke
Stéphano................Jane De Vigne
Mercutio................Jean Martapoura
Benvolio................Antonio Rinaldini
Gertrude................Mathilde Bauermeister
Capulet.................Antonio Magini-Coletti
Tybalt..................Victor Capoul
Grégorio................Antonio De Vaschetti
Duke of Verona..........Lodovico Viviani

Conductor...............Auguste Vianesi

Review of W. J. Henderson in The New York Times




The season of grand opera in French and Italian, under the management of Messers Henry Abbey and Maurice Grau, began at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening. The house was filled by a brilliant audience, which gave every evidence of being well pleased with the evening's proceedings. The opera selected for the opening of the season was Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette,' which, with commendable judgment, was presented with the original French text of Barbier and Carré. The performance served to introduce to the Metropolitan public Mme. Emma Eames, an American soprano - who has had the honor of pleasing Paris after Patti in her rôle of last night - Jean de Reszke, tenor, and Edouard de Reszke, basso, two artists of world-wide reputation. Other singers new to this city were also heard and, taken altogether, it was an evening of no small interest.

"Romeo et Juliette" was first performed at the Théâtre Lyrique, Paris April 27, 1867; with Mme. Miolan-Carvallo as Juliet and M. Michet as Romeo. Adelina Patti has always been fond of the rôle of the heroine of this opera and sang the part with Mario as Romeo, on the production of the work in England at Covent Garden, July 11, 1867. The opera was revived here in the course of Mr. Abbey's season of two years ago, on April 14,1890, with Mme. Patti as Juliet and Signor Ravelli as Romeo. Habitual operagoers may remember that at the second performance the final curtain refused to descend, whereupon Mme. Patti awoke laughing from the sleep of death, walked down to the footlights and sang "Home, Sweet Home," whereupon Romeo Ravelli sat up in his tomb, rubbed his eyes, and marveled greatly. However, the opera pleased the public and its mellifluous music was much applauded. The favorite numbers have always been the "Queen Mab" song, Juliet's waltz song, the air "Comme un oiseau captive," the page's song. "Guardez bien la belle," and the duet of Romeo and Juliet, "Non, ce n'est pas le jour, ce n'est pas l'alouette."

The libretto of Barbier and Carré is tolerably faithful to Shakespeare, the introduction of Stephano, a page to Romeo, being the most noticeable departure from the original. To be sure, the work, as a whole is without the true Shakespearean spirit, but that is more the fault of the composer than the librettists. The French have almost invariably shown a singular - or, rather, a nationally characteristic - incapacity for reproducing Shakespeare in their own language or their music. Berlioz came nearer to the Shakespearean idea in his "Romeo and Juliet" symphony than any other French composer ever has done, but one has only to turn to Verdi's "Otello" or to Tchaikowsky's fantasy-overture to "Romeo and Julliet" and "Hamlet" to discern how much more facile is insight into Shakespeare with other nations than it is with the French. However, Gounod's sweetly sentimental setting of the great tragedy of love is now tolerably familiar to this public and we may dismiss it from further consideration, turning to the singers who, under the circumstances, are of more interest to operagoers.

The principal singers introduced to the public last night were Emma Eames as Juliet, Jean de Reszke as Romeo, Edouard de Reszke as Friar Laurence, Signor Martaportra as Mercutio, and Signor Coletti as Capulet. Miss Eames is the possessor of a sweet and full soprano voice, of a timbre about midway between that of the most plentiful kind of colorature soprano and that of the average dramatic singer. Her style is agreeable. She sang her music last evening in a most painstaking and conscientious manner. Her chromatic scale in the waltz song was one of the cleanest and most finished bits of colorature singing lately heard in this City. As already intimated, Gounod's Juliet is not a powerful dramatic rôle, and Miss Eames's acting was quite equal to the demands made upon it in the part. She sang the duets with Romeo very tastefully, and was warmly applauded.

Jean de Reszke, as the chief tenor of the company, was naturally the centre of interest with a great part of the audience. Mr. de Reszke, as is generally well known, was once upon a time a baritone, but he discovered that he had made a mistake and went into training for tenor rôles. His voice has something of the baritone quality in the middle and lower registers, but the upper notes are true tenor tones. His voice has none of the radiant mellowness of the Italian tenors. It resembles the German voices somewhat but comes nearer to the French voice. It is an agreeable, though not a surprising organ. The tenor is, however, a man of genuine artistic feeling and of high vocal accomplishments. His phrasing is good and his taste is charming. He showed genuine dramatic feeling in his work last night, and will undoubtedly become a favorite with this public.

The hit of the evening, however, was made by the basso, Edouard de Reszke. This singer demonstrated in a single scene that he is a really great artist. His voice is magnificent in power and range, and is of noble quality. His phrasing is superb, and his delivery of Friar Laurence's music last night was imposing in its breadth and dignity. The audience was quick to recognize his superlative merit and applauded him with enthusiasm.

Signor Martapoura as Mercutio, displayed a very pretty baritone voice of light body. He sang with considerable judgment, but his work was marred by the common foe, the tremolo. The Capulet was Signor Coletti whose voice is a good, round baritone, and he sang with spirit. He, too, suffered from an overabundant tremolo. The other principal members of the cast were familiar. M. Capoul is a very old friend and as every one knows he never had a voice, he was not a disappointment. Mlle. Bauermeister sang the rôle of the nurse. Signor Vianesi conducted and was welcomed by the orchestra with a "tusch." Tomorrow evening the opera will be "Il Trovatore" with Lilli Lehmann, Paul Kalisch and Giulia Ravogli in the principal parts.

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