[Met Performance] CID:112800
La Bohème {293}
L'Oracolo {55}
Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/20/1933.

(Antonio Scotti Farewell
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 20, 1933 Matinee


LA BOHÈME {293}

Mimì....................Elisabeth Rethberg
Rodolfo.................Giovanni Martinelli
Musetta.................Nina Morgana
Marcello................Richard Bonelli
Schaunard...............Claudio Frigerio
Colline.................Arthur Anderson
Benoit..................Paolo Ananian
Alcindoro...............Pompilio Malatesta
Parpignol...............Max Altglass
Sergeant................Carlo Coscia

Conductor...............Vincenzo Bellezza


L'ORACOLO {55}
Leoni-Zanoni

Ah-Joe..................Queena Mario
Uin-San-Lui.............Armand Tokatyan
Cim-Fen.................Antonio Scotti [Last performance]
Uin-Scî.................Tancredi Pasero
Hu-Tsin.................Louis D'Angelo
Hu-Cî...................Lyova Rosenthal [Last performance]
Hua-Qui.................Henriette Wakefield
Fortuneteller...........Giordano Paltrinieri

Conductor...............Vincenzo Bellezza

Director................Armando Agnini
Set designer............James Fox

L'Oracolo received one performance this season.


Review and tribute of Oscar Thompson in The New York Post

Cim-Fen, his dark deeds and right recent strangulation notwithstanding, waved an affectionate adieu after a procession of curtain calls yesterday afternoon at the Metropolitan, where a patrician Don Giovanni had swept his plume in a first salutation to New York's opera patrons some thirty-three years ago. It was Antonio Scotti's farewell. The opera was Leoni's "L'Oracolo," given in double bill with Puccini's "La Boheme"; the role was that of the opium den keeper of San Francisco's Chinatown-since February 4, 1915, when it was first disclosed, regarded as one of the most remarkable of this versatile artist's character portrayals. There were tears in many eyes.

Above the weary but gallant figure curved the gilded proscenium that in the course of three decades had framed the Scotti Scarpia, the Scotti Falstaff, Tonio, Rigoletto, Iago, Sharpless, Marcello and Count de Nevers. On this same stage, confronting the same audience chamber, had been uncurtained at least thirty other operatic characterizations, each stamped with the personality of the magnetic baritone and as varied as there were distinguished. Mr. Scotti will be sixty-seven years old next Wednesday. He will return to Italy to live out his years where he was born. But it can be said of him, as perhaps of no other living artist, that he is built into America's operatic traditions. His reputation will endure. He concluded his singing career yesterday an artist singularly well beloved. Geraldine Farrar, Marcella Sembrich and Olive Fremstad, artist colleagues of other days, were among those gathered to pay him tribute.

There was a sincere and warm-hearted demonstration at the final curtain that continued for twenty minutes. Crowding close to the stage, a shouting, applauding arm of faithful remained to bring the veteran singing actor before the curtain many times. There were flowers and several wreaths, hand-clasps and kisses from fellow artists. Lawrence Tibbett led in singing "For he's a jolly good fellow." Scotti, too, wept. "God bless you all," he said in a little speech. No doubt, there were those who felt that he was their last link with an era that has become legendary at the Metropolitan. For them Scotti meant more than the high noon of Caruso and Farrar. He was their living tie to the De Reszkes, to Plancon, to the times of Nordica, Ternina, and Calve; their last hold upon the grand manner-though in his own heyday that same grand manner was always further back.

Possibly not more than a handful in this audience could summon personal memories of the night of December 27, 1899, when the young Neapolitan, having lately repeated at Covent Garden his successes at La Scala, made his first entrance on the stage of the Metropolitan, a Don Juan struggling with a frantic Donna Anna. That Donna Anna was Lillian Nordica. Sembrich and Edouard de Reszke were in the cast. Scotti was then thirty-three, but behind him were ten years of operatic experience. There was nothing sensational about his immediate successes. He was liked and accepted for his handsome bearing, his suave manner, his taste and style as a vocalist, his mellow but not powerful voice.

Remote now seem the routine if polished portrayals of his first years in this country; his Escamillo, Valentine, Nelusko, the elder Germont. But in his first season was disclosed the flair for aristocratic comedy that was to become quite as characteristic of his art as his gift for tragic villainy. His Dr. Malatesta was the first of a series of urbane gentlemen who could remain elegant in surrounding of farce. His Falstaff was no buffoon. Paunch and lechery could not take from him his birthright as a gentleman.

Revealed also in his first season, Scotti's remarkable Tonio lived on long after younger baritones had contrived to make a more brilliant showpiece of the Prologue. He was not an A-flat top-noter. But his Tonio was rich in humanity. That was why it endured. Meanwhile, his Rigoletto established itself as a characterization of thrilling passion and compassion. His Iago and his Barnaba were subtle and forceful in their representation of the crafty and sinister. His Amonasro was kingly in its pride and defiance.

Of all the baritones of his day, Scotti was particularly the singer for the Puccini roles. His Scarpia was the Metropolitan's first. There was never really room for another. The villainous character first disclosed to New York on the night of February 4, 1901, was scarcely to be thought of away from its interpreter. Others sang and acted it well. But the identity of the role was fixed. Scotti was Scarpia and Scarpia was Scotti. So, we suspect, the relation will remain.

Marcello in "Boheme," Sharpless in "Madama Butterfly," Lescaut in "Manon Lescaut," these were human embodiments, as convincing as there were pictorial. Few who saw it will forget the one-man tableau at the close of the third act of "Boheme" or what Scotti did to give suspense to the moment of Mimi's death. His gestures were few but he made them count. He could rivet attention standing still. He was a past master of makeup, witness his dazzling de Nevers. And as for straight singing, who of his day ever surpassed him in "Eri Tu" of "Un Ballo in Maschera"?

With these memories, yesterday's performance was freighted with glamour and no little regret for those who have loved the singers and his art. Cim-Fen overshadowed the others in a not very notable cast. He shuffled ominously, a being distrusted and feared. He kidnapped a child, he killed a man with a hatchet, he fought for his life and when he had paid the penalty for his crimes he slumped in a heap on the floor, a limp and livid corpse. Here was a malevolent spirit, whose movements had little in common with the everyday gesturings and stridings of opera. Yet he sang-sang to the last-no mere talking here-and some of the tones, particularly the lower ones, had their old musical richness and charm.

Others concerned with "L'Oracolo" were Queena Mario, Henriette Wakefield, Armand Tokatyan, Tancredi Pasero, Louis D'Angelo, and Giordano Paltrinieri. The chief roles of "Boheme" were sung by Nina Morgana, Giovanni Martinelli, Claudio Frigerio and Arthur Anderson. Vincenzo Bellezza conducted both operas. Mme. Rethberg sang many lovely notes. But the day was Scotti's-in opera, his last great day.


Photograph of Antonio Scotti and Lawrence Tibbett, taken backstage at Scotti's farewell performance.



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