[Met Performance] CID:116000
Aida {388} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/22/1934.

(Opening Night {50}
Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager

Debuts: Ettore Panizza, Désiré Defrère
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 22, 1934
Opening Night {50}

Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager


AIDA {388}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Elisabeth Rethberg
Radamès.................Giovanni Martinelli
Amneris.................Maria Olszewska
Amonasro................Lawrence Tibbett
Ramfis..................Ezio Pinza
King....................Louis D'Angelo
Messenger...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Priestess...............Lillian Clark
Dance...................Rita De Leporte

Conductor...............Ettore Panizza [Debut]

Director................Désiré Defrère [Debut]
Set designer............Angelo Parravicini
Costume designer........Ethel Fox
Choreographer...........Rosina Galli

Aida received seven performances this season.

Review of A. Walter Kramer in the December 25, 1934 issue of Musical America

AIDA OPENS GATTI'S FINAL SEASON AT METROPOLITAN

Panizza, New Italian Opera Conductor, Enthusiastically Received in Debut by Capacity Audience

House in New Dress

Rethberg , Olszewska, Martinelli, Tibbett and Pinza Acclaimed for Singing of Familiar Roles-Défrère in Charge of Stage


The air was crisp and expectancy was keen as the music of Verdi's grandest of grand operas, "Aida," rang out on Saturday evening, Dec. 22, when the new season was ushered in at the Metropolitan Opera House, the season that is to be the final one of Giulio Gatti-Casazza's long reign. In the audience, which filled the house to overflowing, were many of the old guard, both social lights and musical celebrities. In the lobbies and at the newly renovated bar, the handsome, new seats in the auditorium, the new decorations on the ceiling of the lobby and other similar refurbishings were pleasantly discussed, the general impression being that all had been done worthily. The old seats were even more roomy, to be sure, but some of the boards in the auditorium used to creak with age as late patrons marched down the aisle. That, happily, has been remedied. The $300,000 renovation undertaken since last spring and announced as only one-half the amount eventually to be expended in this direction would seem to serve as a tangible denial that the Metropolitan Opera is seeking a new home. For the present, now that its lighting system back stage has been brought up to date, it will get along satisfactorily where it is.

Musically the opening took on especial interest because of the debut of Ettore Panizza, who takes the place of Tullio Serafin. Like his predecessor, Maestro Panizza has won for himself a splendid reputation in Italy, where he has conducted at La Scala and other leading theatres. From the opening measures of the formless, but strangely potent Prelude, he made me feel that he can master his forces. He has an eloquent beat, a well-defined rhythmic sense, knows how to build his climaxes with gradual and certain effect and manages his choral groups with great precision. From the orchestra he brought forth a warmth and sumptuousness of tone that spoke volumes for his ability to dominate a group of players to whom he was new. There were times when the fortissimi were too great for the solo voices to come through, but they will doubtless be tamed, when the conductor is more familiar with the acoustics of the house; and some tempi were decidedly on the quick side. But he showed definitely in this "Aida" performance that he is a conductor of distinguished attainment. On his first entrance he was given a rousing reception and after the second act came before the curtain with the principals, who after several recalls insisted on his coming out alone to receive the plaudits of an audience which showered him with the heartiest kind of applause.

Admirable Singing By Principals

In their familiar roles Elisabeth Rethberg as Aida, Maria Olszewska as Amneris, Giovanni Martinelli as Radames, Lawrence Tibbett as Amonasro and Ezio Pinza as Ramfis were all admirable. Mme. Rethberg has rarely sung better than in the "O Patria Mia" and her acting of the part was especially praiseworthy, for she has added several significant things to her former conception of it. Amneris is not as successful a role for Mme. Olszewska as are some of the major mezzo roles in the German repertoire; but on this occasion she sang much of the music glowingly and her delivery of the first scene of the final act was something of a "tour de force."

Mr. Martinelli's Radames is one of his greatest achievements. He was applauded rapturously after the Celeste Aida. As for Mr. Tibbett's Amonasro, both in singing and acting he lifts this role, often done in a routine manner by other singers, to the rank of an outstanding personation. His entrance was a dramatic highlight in the evening's proceedings, as was his singing of the Nile scene with Mme. Rethberg. There is no better Ramfis than Mr. Pinza.

Louis D'Angelo was, as always, a capable King, Giordano Paltrinieri, the Messenger and Lillian Clark, the hidden Priestess, who sang her phrases pleasantly. The chorus was splendid, again revealing Giulio Setti's careful training, and the lighting, in the main, better than in former times. The triumphal scene was as brilliant a picture as we have seen in many a day. The new stage director, Desire Defrere, formerly of the Chicago Civic Opera, deserves much praise for his part in the first performance under his direction. It is to be hoped that he will insist on a silent prompter. That gentleman was far too audible. Prompting should be done piano, not mezzo forte. In fact, it should not be necessary at all. It has long since been dispensed with in many important lyric theatres in many lands.



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