[Met Performance] CID:108020
Faust {385} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/25/1931.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 25, 1931

FAUST {385}

Faust...................Georges Thill
Marguerite..............Elisabeth Rethberg
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................Lawrence Tibbett
Siebel..................Gladys Swarthout
Marthe..................Henriette Wakefield
Wagner..................James Wolfe

Conductor...............Louis Hasselmans

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun

Heavy-Footed "Faust" Is Sung

Mr. Pinza Stars as Mephistopheles but Ardor of Others in Lacking

Harry B. Smith, dean of American librettists, author of the text of "Robin Hood," "The Serenade" and other classics of operetta has been confiding some of his recollections to the columns of the Saturday Evening Post. Among numerous other things he recollected that he walked out of the Metropolitan Opera House after a performance of "Die Walküre" one night in company with the late Henry Edward Krehbiel, music critic and annalist. He asked Mr. Krehbiel how long he thought Wagner works would endure and to his astonishment the eminent Wagnerian replied, "'Faust' will outlive them all."

If Mr. Krehbiel had lived until today he might have had his misgivings in regard to that prophecy. He made it when the Metropolitan had just been dubbed the "Faustpielhaus," because with Melba or Eames and the de Reszkes and Maurel, the opera was presented over and over, sometimes a dozen time in one season, to packed houses. Maybe "Faust" will make a comeback (like a good old boxer), and maybe it will not. And if it outlives all the Wagner works there must be some rearrangement of the fates in store for us. For the old opera was weighty in its tread at the Metropolitan last night.

Perhaps there will be the discovery of a new Faust and a new Marguerite. Those of last night were strange rather than new. The star was Mr. Pinza as Mephistopheles. The music drops a trifle below the range of his voice at times, and his French was not always that of Tours, but his tempter had virility, the true sardonic quality and theatrical point. He sang most of the music very well and especially in his courageous tempos in the "Veau d'Or" song did he show a good judgment. His costume was good and his action significant. On the whole his was the outstanding figure of the evening.

Mme. Rethberg was cast for Marguerite and sang all the music with beauty of tone but in several spots with manifest effort and always without getting under the surface. It was hardly to be expected that she would show a genuinely French style, but she might have displayed something more like a simulation of the emotions which led the girl to her downfall. However, if she was not profoundly moved she had a companion in Georges Thill, the new French tenor, who lately made his debut as Romeo. His first scene, in which there was some good declamation, aroused expectations of an achievement much better than that of his previous appearance, but in the Garden Scene he lapsed into polite effacement. His delivery of "Salut demeure chaste et pure" was meditative and cold. It lacked richness of tone and elevation of style. And in the sentimental scenes with Marguerite the tenor succeeded in conveying the impression that he was concerned about nothing beyond the difficulties which seemed to beset him whenever high tones confronted him. A less romantic Faust would be hard to imagine. Between him and Mme. Rethberg there was created a conviction that Marguerite was not on the brink of destruction, or if so it would be this well-dressed visitor who pushed her over.

Mr. Tibbett as Valentine helped to lift the performance beyond complete dullness when Mr. Pinza was not on the stage. He sang and acted admirably and raised memories of his first appearance in the same opera. He has developed brilliantly since that time. There was also Miss Swarthout as Siebel, very good to see, but not impressive to hear. Mme. Wakefield brought the benefit of her experience to the role of Marthe. The chorus did not seem to be in the best of spirits and the orchestra continues to betray signs of weariness. Mr. Hasselmans conducted. Viewed in its ensemble this was a heavy footed and not perfectly tuneful "Faust" which even a well equipped devil would fill with the blood of renewed youth.

From the review of Irving Weil in the Journal

Thill, New Tenor, Sings in "Faust" At the Opera

Georges Thill, the new French tenor at the Metropolitan Opera was pretty plainly met with as swift a popular success as his coloratura compatriot, Lily Pons. At his second appearance last night as the questing hero of Gounod's "Faust," the house was filled to the last square foot of standing room, and the crowd was enthusiastic enough to become a safe wild over this new singer.

He is unmistakably one of the most noteworthy additions to the company in a number of years. He is young - a little past 30 - and he has a voice with the kind of metal in it that rings. Moreover, he makes a most personable stage figure, he has the French ease and grace of manner, and his acting, if not precisely subtle, is on the intelligent side of "conventional."


But his singing is of course his predominant asset. In this respect his Faust was an improvement on the Romeo of his debut, although the latter was striking enough to make known the quality of his voice and the principal aspects of his ability to use it. In his Faust these things became clearer for he was now apparently pretty thoroughly at home on the Metropolitan stage.

His is one of the really exceptional tenor voices, quite unlike that of the usual French type. For one thing, it is of an even quality throughout its scale and there is power at the bottom of it as well as at the top. There is also a quite extraordinary breath support behind it, permitting the singer to take long phrases with all the volume of tone he likes. When he has once improved the control and manipulation of this breath reserve, he ought to become as fine a tenor as one can listen to today.

From a review singed W. B. C. in an unidentified newspaper

Thill Hailed in "Faust"

For the second time a new Metropolitan star, in whom public interest had been spontaneously aroused by a success won over all odds attending an American debut, became the center of excited demonstrations at the opera last evening. Georges Thill, on the heels of last week's "Romeo et Juliette" and his hard-won triumph over an attack of nerves on that occasion came to the fore last evening in full confidence of youthful grace and voice as the classic hero or "Faust." He sang to what was officially declared to be the largest audience at "Faust" since the days of Caruso.

Like his fellow-countrywoman, Lily Pons, earlier this year, Mr. Thill also found a continued welcome, one that expressed itself in lyric love-making, without regard to its sustain background of operatic technique.

From the review of Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune

As for the Faust, he was embodied for us by the Metropolitan's new French tenor, Georges Thill, who made his first appearance here last week as Romeo. Mr. Thill is not a distinguished acquisition to the Metropolitan forces. He is a mediocre singer, an indifferent actor. His phrasing is often unmusical, and he sang off pitch last evening in passages where the taking of that liberty was especially disastrous, as in "Salut demeure." His sense of the stage appears to be rudimentary. In aspect, in bearing, in voice, this was a disturbingly unillusive Faust.

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