[Met Performance] CID:11510
Metropolitan Opera Premiere (Philémon et Baucis)

New Production (Cavalleria Rusticana)
Philémon et Baucis {1}
Cavalleria Rusticana {9}
Metropolitan Opera House: 11/29/1893.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)
(Debut: Pol Plançon, Sigrid Arnoldson, Georges Mauguière, Armand Castelmary, Enrico Bevignani, Emma Calvé, Francesco Vignas, Eugène Dufriche

Metropolitan Opera House
November 29, 1893

Metropolitan Opera Premiere


Philémon................Georges Mauguière [Debut]
Baucis..................Sigrid Arnoldson [Debut]
Jupiter.................Pol Plançon [Debut]
Vulcain.................Armand Castelmary [Debut]

Conductor...............Enrico Bevignani [Debut]

Director................Armand Castelmary [Debut]

Philémon et Baucis received six performances this season.

New production


Santuzza................Emma Calvé [Debut]
Turiddu.................Francesco Vignas [Debut]
Lola....................Olimpia Guercia
Alfio...................Eugène Dufriche [Debut]
Mamma Lucia.............Mathilde Bauermeister

Conductor...............Enrico Bevignani

Director................Armand Castelmary

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


Début of M. Plançon, Basso, and Mme. Emma Calvé, Soprano.

It was not difficult to find the essential features of the second evening of the season of grand opera now current at the Metropolitan Opera House. They were purely personal, and in the nature of things could not be otherwise. It will take some time to convince the old-fashioned operatic public that the relentless march of art has once again relegated the singer to a secondary place, and that the soundest judgment of the present holds the opera itself to be of more importance than the performer of it. A large part of last night's audience was present for the purpose of seeing and hearing the new singers, and of applauding them in season and out of it. The "bravo" nuisance was especially conspicuous, and did all in his power to mar the effective work of those whom he intended to approve by his obstreperous interruptions.

The operas presented were Gounod's light and graceful opera comique, "Philemon et Baucis," and Mascagni's passionate little tragedy in one act, "Cavalleria Rusticana." There is no reason to doubt that these two works were selected in order to give M, Pol Plançon, basso, and Mme. Emma Calve, soprano, opportunities to display their abilities effectively. There were others who made themselves known to this public for the first time, but it cannot be said that they had a great deal to do with the interest of the occasion.

In "Philemon et Baucis" the singers were Mme. Sigrid Arnoldson as Baucis, M. Maugiere as Philemon, M. Castelmary as Vulcan, and M. Plançon as Jupiter. The opera was given with the French text, the spoken dialogue, and a generally commendable attention to scenic details. Comment on a work which has been so recently discussed in these columns is unnecessary, but it may be well to note that it gains in grace when presented in its proper garb and by persons acquainted with the manner of the French stage.

Mme. Sigrid Arnoldson is well known in Europe. She is one of a class of singers far more popular on the other side of the Atlantic than on this. She is a soprano who possesses the common characteristics of the colorature variety - a very light and rather colorless voice, flexible and readily turned to account in ornamental passages, but with small expressive power. Admirers of this kind of voice hope to be astonished by its agility and its upward range. They are destined to be disappointed in Mme. Arnoldson, for her colorature is by no means remarkable for brilliancy, and her upper register is of moderate extent. Future performances may, however, reveal powers which did not come to the surface last night.

M. Plançon, is an admirable basso. His voice is large, full, and sonorous, though not of a strikingly warm quality. But he is a consummate vocal artist. It is undeniable that some of his tones last night were not absolutely true, but we are inclined to think that this is not an habitual failing. His phrasing was the very essence of elegance, and he invested the role of Jupiter with a most delightful grace of style and gentleness of sentiment. M. Plançon will probably be one of the favorites of the company. M. Maugiere is one of the secondary tenors of the organization, and Castelmary is already known to this public.

The cast in "Cavalleria Rusticana" consisted of Mme. Emma Calvé as Santuzza, Mme. Olympia Quercia as Lola, M. Dufriche as Alfio, Mile. Bauermeister as Lucia, and Signor Vignas as Turiddu. Mme Calvé is a dramatic soprano of the first rank. It is long since New York opera goers have had the pleasure of seeing and hearing an artist of such splendid emotional force. Her voice is not a great one, but it is sufficient in power and range for her work, and it is of good quality. It is in her ability to delineate character and to express feeling that she is notable. Her acting is uncommonly fine for the operatic stage. In bearing, gesture, and facial expression, she is at all times eloquent and powerfully influenced; and she knows how to put emotional meaning into her singing, never hesitating to sacrifice mere sensuous beauty of tone to true dramatic significance. Her success was immediate, pronounced, and thoroughly deserved.

Signor Vignas is a tenor of a kind that is unfortunately plentiful. His voice is of the open, reedy variety that tends toward a nasal quality, and he displayed a decided lack of flexibility in action. M. Dufriche proved to be a baritone with a powerful voice, which is deficient in vibrancy and generous in vibrato. The chorus last evening sang much out of tune in the "Regina Coeli, and was generally wanting in moderation and shading. Signor Bevignani conducted. Tomorrow evening "Lohengrin" will be sung.

From the review of Henry Krehbiel in the New York Tribune

...if it had not been for the magnificent talents of Madame Calvé the performance would have been flat, stale and unprofitable.

...The pegs must be set high when the merits of Mlle. Calvé were descanted upon. She is a singer of true magnetic instincts, unfailing musical taste and magnetic eloquence in pose, action and vocal utterance. Her "Santuzza" is not one of the Continental marionettes of the operatic stage, but a dramatic creation-a woman with hot blood in her veins, whose voice takes color from the situation, and occasionally sets one's fingertips to tingling. She blends declamation with singing in a manner which shows complete appreciation of the purposes of music in the modern lyric drama, yet never forgets the rights which music has independent of the drama, in such a hybrid work as Mascagni's. She will be a strong prop of the...Metropolitan throughout the season...

M. Plançon won the hearts of the audience with his sonorous bass and suave and finished style. He, too, is destined to be a popular favorite.

Photograph of Pol Plançon as Jupiter in Philémon et Baucis by Falk.
Photograph of Emma Calvé as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana by Falk.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).