[Met Performance] CID:1140
Metropolitan Opera Premiere
La Sonnambula {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/14/1883.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)

Metropolitan Opera House
November 14, 1883
Metropolitan Opera Premiere

Bellini-F. Romani

Amina...................Marcella Sembrich
Elvino..................Italo Campanini
Rodolfo.................Franco Novara
Lisa....................Ida Corani
Teresa..................Emily Lablache
Alessio.................Baldassare Corsini
Notary..................Amadeo Grazzi

Conductor...............Cleofonte Campanini

Director................Mr. Corani
Director................Mr. Abbiati
Set Designer............Charles Fox, Jr.
Set Designer............William Schaeffer
Set Designer............Gaspar Maeder
Set Designer............Mr. Thompson
Costume Designer........D. Ascoli
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian

Marcella Sembrich repeated "Ah! Non giunge"

La Sonnambula received five performances this season.

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

The audience assembled in the Metropolitan Opera House last night once more attested as well by its numbers as by its interest and applause the popularity of Bellini's "La Sonnambula," even though more than half a century has elapsed since Rubini filled every note of its favorite tenor air with the intense passion which gained for the composer's work an instant success. And it is not too much to say that, with competent artists, "La Somnambula" finds as much favor with opera-goers today as it did two and fifty years ago, when it was first listened to by an English-speaking audience. It is curious to recall that, during all these years, there has been no departure from the line of criticism which was disclosed after the initial .performance of the young Italian's sweetest work. While it is equally curious to note that the censors have always labored in vain. The tuneful numbers of the contralto and the tenor still live, and there is every prospect of their being applauded as heartily by the lovers of song in the early years of the next as they are in the fading decades of the present century. Last night's performance was exceedingly, fine from first to last. The cast embraced Mme. Sembrich as Amina, Signor Campanini as Elvino, Signor Novara as Count Rodolfo, and Mme. Lablache as Teresa. Amina is not Mme. Sembrich's greatest part by any means, but she sings the florid embellishments of the score with marked force and surprising agility. It is quite unnecessary to state that in cantabile passages her labors left nothing to be desired, or that her phrasing and execution, from "Come per me serene" to "Ah non giunge," were all that the most exacting virtuoso could demand. Still, there was something missing. It is clear that although Mme. Sembrich devotes her throat and her head to her profession, she has not thought it worth her while to take her heart into her artistic confidence. Brilliant she is beyond a doubt - but it is the cold glitter of the distant glacier. On the occasion of which we write, also, the lady had the, misfortune to suffer from bad advice in the matter of her clothes - her costume in the first act being what is popularly known as "a fright." Her singing of "Ah non giunge" was as nearly perfect as can be imagined, and was rewarded by such a storm of applause that she was obliged to repeat it. Signor Campanini's Elvino is too well known to New York operagoers to demand extended attention. His voice last evening was in excellent condition, and from beginning to end he sang with unsparing zeal. Probably his best work was in the concerted music of the second act, when his noble tones stood out against the background of the chorus and orchestra with a firmness and brilliancy that was delightful to listen to. There is perhaps not another artist on the stage who could appear in "Lohengrin" on Monday and Elvino on Wednesday, and sing both rôles in such a manner as to command the heartiest applause of his varied audiences - yet this is exactly what Campanini has done this week. Signor Novara's Count Rodolfo was conventional, and his "Vi ravviso" did not arouse enthusiasm. Mme. Lablache once more demonstrated her ability as a thorough artist, investing the small part of Teresa with unwonted interest. Signor Cleofonte Campanini conducted, the young musician holding his band well in hand, and the scenery and stage attire generally was appropriate and creditable to the management.

[On Friday evening Verdi's "Rigoletto" will be given, with Mme. Sembrich as Gilda, Signor Stagno as Il Duca, Signor Guadagnini as Rigoletto, Signor Novara as Sparafucile, and Mme. Scalchi as Maddalena.

There is no little anxiety on the part of the public in regard to the disposition which Mr. Abbey proposes to make of his celebrated contralto singers. Mme. Trebelli has been heard but once. and Mme. Scalchi has been listened to in very inferior parts - Friday's performance will be no exception. It seems rather a pity that such distinguished artists should be virtually entombed, and opera-goers are beginning to ask. What is the use of having contralti unless they can be used by the manager? And why can they not be used?]

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