[Met Performance] CID:106310
La Forza del Destino {35} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1930.

(Debut: Olga Didur
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1930 Matinee


LA FORZA DEL DESTINO {35}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Leonora.................Rosa Ponselle
Don Alvaro..............Giovanni Martinelli
Don Carlo...............Mario Basiola
Padre Guardiano.........Tancredi Pasero
Preziosilla.............Olga Didur [Debut]
Fra Melitone............Alfredo Gandolfi
Marquis de Calatrava....Joseph Macpherson
Curra...................Philine Falco
Mayor...................Millo Picco
Trabuco.................Giordano Paltrinieri
Surgeon.................Paolo Ananian
Vivandière..............Pearl Besuner
Vivandière..............Aida Doninelli
Vivandière..............Charlotte Ryan
Vivandière..............Phradie Wells
Vivandière..............Grace Divine
Vivandière..............Philine Falco
Vivandière..............Dorothea Flexer

Conductor...............Tullio Serafin

Director................Ernst Lert
Set designer............Ernest M. Gros
Set designer............James Fox
Set designer............Joseph Novak
Costume designer........Witold Gordon
Choreographer...........Rosina Galli

La Forza del Destino received five performances this season.

[Gros designed the sets for the Church of the Madonna, the encampment and the Cloister of the Madonna; the other sets were created by scenic artist J. Fox; J. Novak painted a vista of classical ruins inserted as a backdrop for the encampment scene.]

Review of John Alan Houghton in Musical America

"Forza del Destino" Revived

Metropolitan Restages Verdi Work After Two Years with Ponselle in Role in Which She Made Debut

Verdi's "La Forza del Destino," which waited fifty-six years for a hearing at the Metropolitan, although it had been given elsewhere in the city, was revived at a special benefit matinee for the Grenfell Mission on Nov. 21. It was in this opera that Rosa Ponselle, the Leonora of the present cast, made her triumphant entry into operatic annals on Nov. 15, 1918. Miss Ponselle's confreres in major roles on that memorable occasion were Caruso, Giuseppe De Luca, José Mardones, Thomas Chalmers and Alice Gentle, with Marie Mattfeld, Giordano Paltrinieri and Vincenzo Reschiglian in the lesser ones. Gennaro Papi conducted. The work remained in the repertoire until 1923, has been revived several times since, and was last heard in 1928. Of the Metropolitan's 1918 cast, only Miss Ponselle and Mr. Paltrinieri, who sang Trabuco, remain.

The interpreters in this latest revival include besides Miss Ponselle, Joseph Macpherson as the Marquis of Calatrava, Mario Basiola as Don Carlo, Giovanni Martinelli as Don Alvaro, Olga Didur, making her debut with the company, as Preziosilla, Tancredi Pasero as the Abbot, Alfredo Gandolfi as Melitone, Philine Falco as Curra, Millo Picco as the Alcalde, Paolo Ananian as the Surgeon; also Pearl Besuner, Aida Doninelli, Charlotte Ryan, Phradie Wells, Grace Divine, Philine Falco and Dorothea Flexer as vivandieres. Tullio Serafin conducted.

This opera, one of Verdi's transitional works; is not his happiest. It contains some of his greatest music, notably the convent scene, which he never surpassed. But it has some of the dreariest stretches of any opera; and even the considerable amount of snipping to which the score has been submitted has not robbed it of long periods of ennui.

New Division of Scenes

The present revival has some changes. Notable among these is the dividing of the convent scene into two, and having the great choral climax sung in the interior before the altar, in which the Abbot presides at some sort of ceremony, certainly not in the Roman ritual, without any vestments save his monk's robe. Such a procedure seems unlikely, and just as easily avoided as having an important member of the cast cross herself incorrectly. Or is she, perhaps, superstitious about doing this the right way in a stage piece? I wonder.

Another change was having the "Rataplan" sung by an octet of women's voices, instead of by Preziosilla alone. This made little if any difference, as the number is a dull one, even if sung by quiring cherubim. In the third act, two scenes were telescoped, thus avoiding the foolishness of having Alvaro carried into a tent to sing "Solenne in quest' ora" with Carlo, and then carried out again. I found this change a decided improvement.

Cast of Importance

Miss Ponselle returned to her original role fortified by much experience, and not only sang superbly, but acted with a finesse which she did not originally have. Hers was a beautiful performance.

Mr. Martinelli both sang and acted well, truly one of his best achievements for some time. Mr. Basiola was a dubious improvement on Mr. De Luca as Don Carlo. He did his best, however, Mr. Pasero as the Abbot did some of the best singing of his career. Mr. Gandolfi carried the buffooneries of Melitone nearer the edge of the endurable than one cares to see; yet it was a consistent performance and probably close to what Verdi meant by the character.

Miss Didur's Preziosilla, it must be admitted, was hardly on a par with that of Miss Gentle, or that of Jeanne Gordon, who also used to sing the role. The voice is uneven in quality and sounds overtrained or overworked. In its lower reaches it has been made cavernous in order to give it weight beyond its natural ponderability. She will probably do better in a more congenial part, as she seems to have personality and to know how to get around the stage.

Needless to say Mr. Serafin's conducting was far better than that of others who have handled this score at our opera. But the probabilities that "Forza del Destino" will ever rank as high in the affections of even the horny-handed standees as does "Aida"" or "Trovatore" seem remote.



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