[Met Performance] CID:11550
Lucia di Lammermoor {12} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/4/1893.

(Debut: Nellie Melba, N. Mastrobuono
Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 4, 1893
New production


LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR {12}
Donizetti-Cammarano

Lucia...................Nellie Melba [Debut]
Edgardo.................Francesco Vignas
Enrico..................Eugène Dufriche
Raimondo................Agostino Carbone
Normanno................Antonio Rinaldini
Alisa...................Mathilde Bauermeister
Arturo..................N. Mastrobuono [Debut]

Conductor...............Luigi Mancinelli

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

The Sextet was repeated

[Throughout her Metropolitan Opera career, Melba wore costumes designed by Worth of Paris.]

Lucia di Lammermoor received nine performances this season.


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

"LUCIA" AT THE OPERA
Mme. Melba Makes Her First Appearance with Great Success

If anyone had doubted that Donizetti's opera, "the Lady or the Flute Player," commonly known as "Lucia di Lammermoor," was dead to the world, last night's audience at the Metropolitan Opera House ought to have removed the doubt. It used to be believed, and it was a fact, that this opera would draw a large audience when a great prima donna's name was on the bill. It seems now that not even in these circumstances does the music-loving public care to sit through the mellifluous emasculation of a tragedy. It is told that Donizetti's father gave him an ink eraser and bade him to use it freely. It has been said that had he given his son matches and bid him set fire to a great mass of his music, the world would have been better for it. If, however, the public continues to treat "Lucia" in such a manner as it did last night, dust and oblivion will do what fire did not. Mme. Melba, who made her first appearance before an American audience in the title role last night, need not be discouraged. It was not her fault that the house was a small one. She will probably find that her hearers will be more numerous in the future when she appears in some other opera.

Mme. Melba is a soprano whom this public will very speedily learn to admire. If she is not the foremost colorature soprano of the day, she is certainly in the very front rank. Nature has gifted her with one of the loveliest voices that ever issued from a human throat. It is simply delicious in its fullness, richness, and purity. Some of the notes sound like some of those of Mme. Patti in her prime, but the voice as a whole resembles no other. It has a marked and fine individuality. It is perfectly equalized in all its registers, and its placing is a model of voice production. Indeed, Mme. Melba's whole method is a constant tribute to the veteran teacher, Mme. Marchesi. It so happens that Mmes. Eames and Calvé are also pupils of Mme. Marchesi, who thus gets a splendid advertisement from the present company. It is only fair to say that Mme. Melba shows the results of more extended vocal training than either of the others. Her voice comes out in that smooth, spontaneous manner that is found only where the "automatism," as the teachers call it, is perfected. If there is anything in the method of singing that Mme. Melba does not know and does not employ without conscious effort she failed to betray it last night. Those who really love good singing will get more pleasure from the beautiful quality of her voice and its exquisite production than from her clean exectution of those ornaments which seem to the best taste to be generally out of place in the lyric drama. It should be added that her style is less cold than reports from abroad had led us to expect.

The other members of the cast were Signor Vignas as Edgardo, Signor Gromzeski as Enrico, Signor Mastrobuono as Arturo, Signor Carbone as Raimondo, Signor Rinaldini as Normanno, and Mlle. Bauermeister as Alice. Signor Vignas has already been discussed in these columns. It cannot be said that his singing last night changed the impressions already made. Signor Gromzeski was called upon at short notice to take the place of M. Dufriche, who was sick, and he may therefore be excused. Signor Mancinelli conducted with his customary skill, and the orchestral part of the opera was never better played here. The beautiful sextet went finely, and had to be repeated. Tomorrow night 'Hamlet" will be given, with M. Lasalle and Mme. Melba in the principal roles.


From the review of Henry Krehbiel in the New York Tribune:

In this [finished vocalization] Melba last night discovered herself to be the finest exemplar heard on the local stage since Mme. Sembrich made her American debut ten years ago. There is no need to mince matters here, and therefore no exception need be made even in favor of Mme. Patti. Mme. Melba is at the zenith of her powers. Her voice is charmingly fresh, and exquisitely beautiful, and her tone production is more natural, and more spontaneous than that of the marvelous woman who so long upheld the standard of bel canto throughout the world. Mme. Melba is not obliged to seek her means or to guard against possible failure. All that she wants lies in her voice ready at hand. Its range is commensurate with all that can possibly be asked of it; and she moves with greatest ease in the regions which are most carefully avoided by most of the singers of today. To throw out those scintillant bubbles of sound which used to be looked upon as the highest achievement in singing seems to be a perfectly natural mode of emotional expression with her. Concerning the reasonablenses of such a method of expression we are not concerned now. It is enough hat Mme. Melba comes nearer to providing it with justification than anybody who essays the task on the contemporaneous stage, unless it be Mme. Sembrich. Added to all this, she has most admirable musical instincts, and these we have been taught to admire more than ever, even while we have been learning to give the reverence due to the dramatic elements in the modern lyric drama. It was small wonder that the audience last night (not so numerous an audience as might have been expected under the circumstances, but evidently one able to appreciate good singing) gave Mme. Melba such enthusiastic tokens of approbation as to convince her that she was permanently established in the good will of our public. It was a superb greeting, superbly deserved.



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