[Met Performance] CID:112000
Simon Boccanegra {8} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1932.

(Opening Night {48}
Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1932
Opening Night {48}

Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager


SIMON BOCCANEGRA {8}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave/Arrigo Boito

Simon Boccanegra........Lawrence Tibbett
Amelia..................Maria Müller
Gabriele Adorno.........Giovanni Martinelli
Jacopo Fiesco...........Ezio Pinza
Paolo Albiani...........Claudio Frigerio
Pietro..................Louis D'Angelo
Maid....................Pearl Besuner
Captain.................Giordano Paltrinieri

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

Director................Alexander Sanine
Set designer............Camillo Parravicini

Simon Boccanegra received five performances this season.


Review of Lawrence Gilman in the New York Herald Tribune

Both the New Deal and the Forgotten Man were conspicuously in evidence at last night's operatic inauguration. Gone was the Metropolitan Opera Company of yore, that frankly hedonistic institution maintained for the purpose of affording public pleasure at not too great a cost to the dispensers. In its place we beheld the newly organized "Metropolitan Opera Association," officially, legally and governmentally classified as an Educational Institution, and thus exempt from the need of taxing its tickets. A new deal indeed, with Euterpe in a mortarboard, distributing diplomas instead of lyric beakers full of the blushful Hippocrene! As for the Forgotten Man he was, to put it bluntly, the whole show. No longer forgotten, he dominated the proceedings upon the stage almost from the evening's start. He was not only remembered; he was saluted, acclaimed, taken to the collective bosom of Head Master Gatti's assembled undergraduates.

For be it understood that not since the days of the lamented Caruso has a man been chosen to assume the leading role in a seasonal opening at the Metropolitan. In view of the obvious presence in Mr. Gatti's troupe of numerous male singers, it would perhaps be invidious to wonder why Mr. Lawrence Tibbett is the first of them to have been chosen for that honor in the course of the last decade. It has, within that period, been a lady's unchallenged privilege to monopolize the spotlight's beam at a Metropolitan opening. Is it because Mr. Tibbett has become a singing-actor of exceptional powers and deserved renown that he was accorded so signal an honor? One likes to think so-especially since it is a fact that he is not only the first male thus to have been honored since the passing of his great predecessor, but that he is the first American male, unless memory has slipped its moorings, who has ever sung the leading role at a Metropolitan opening. And that, I think it will be agreed, is a considerable distinction not only for the Forgotten Man in opera, but for the singing American male.

Mr. Tibbett proved to the hilt last night his right to that distinction. He had proved it in advance, for that matter. His performance during the past Metropolitan season of the role which he assumed again last night was easily the most conspicuous individual achievement of that operatic year. It is not easy to think of Verdi's opera without Mr. Tibbett. Certainly there are few singers now living who could vitalize and intensify the pathetic and sovereign figure of the Doge as Mr. Tibbett has done and as he did again last evening. It is an extraordinary tribute to the loftiness of his embodiment of this role that the name of the incomparable Chaliapin has been mentioned in the general praise of the young American's achievement without provoking the suspicion of absurdity. Mr. Tibbett is not yet quite a Chaliapin, But he is easily the most histrionically and musically gifted, the most imaginative and the most richly promising of the present generation of American opera singers.

He moved last night through the scenes of Verdi's sombre and often impressive drama with sustained effectiveness and fluent ease. He has mastered completely the musical and theatrical externals of the part and is thus enabled to realize to the full its imaginative and emotional content. He sets before us in the round the character of the remarkable figure that gives its chief value to the often flawed and inchoate opera of Verdi, Piave and Boito-the figure of Boccanegra, the fourteenth-century corsair who became the first Doge of Genoa.

Mr. Tibbett's range of delineation in the role is extraordinary and memorable. He can show us Boccanegra in his tenderness and his tragic pathos, his nobility of spirit, his elevation, his magnanimity, the majesty of his anger and the majesty of his grief. He can rise to the level of that tremendous scene at the close of the first act in which the Doge compels the guilty and trembling Paolo to utter the curse which the miscreant knows will fall upon himself-a scene which aroused the audience last night to unmistakably genuine enthusiasm-and, at the end, he turns a rather banal operatic death scene into a denouement of tragic and searching beauty, unforgettable for its poignancy and its truth and for the surety and exquisiteness of the art with which it is accomplished.

The others in the cast (which was identical with last year's save in the case of Mr. d'Angelo, who replaced Mr. Ananian as Pietro) were thrown quite into the shade by the superb performance manes of their American colleague. This is said with due regard for the praiseworthy qualities of Mr. Pinza's Jacopo Fiesco (alias Andrea), Mr. Gabriele's Adorno and Mr. Frigerio's Paolo-the latter an extremely salient projection of a relatively subordinate part. Concerning Miss Mueller's Maria Boccanegra (alias Amelia Grimaldi), I find it no easier than before to be enthusiastic. This is an external and self-conscious performance, overacted and oversung. And Miss Mueller is still, apparently, an adherent of the dental school of facial expression.

The chorus singing and the stage direction were admirable and Mr. Serafin, who had been battling with influenza, one understands, until shortly before the performance, was a tower of strength in the control and vitalization of his forces. All in all, it was a propitious opening of a season which has been high-heartedly undertaken under difficult circumstances: a season with which, as we have been reminded, the Metropolitan begins its golden jubilee year and Mr. Gatti-Casazza (evidently a bimetallist), his silver anniversary as general manager of the present company. Congratulations are in order and the best of wishes.



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