[Met Performance] CID:118280
Rigoletto {207} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/9/1936.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 9, 1936


RIGOLETTO {207}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Lawrence Tibbett
Gilda...................Josephine Antoine
Duke of Mantua..........Charles Kullman
Maddalena...............Helen Olheim
Sparafucile.............Virgilio Lazzari
Monterone...............Alfredo Gandolfi
Borsa...................Giordano Paltrinieri
Marullo.................George Cehanovsky
Count Ceprano...........Hubert Raidich
Countess Ceprano........Charlotte Symons
Giovanna................Thelma Votipka
Page....................Paolina Tomisani

Conductor...............Ettore Panizza


Review of Noel Strauss in The New York Times


The younger generation had its innings in last night's weak-kneed performance of Verdi's "Rigoletto" at the Metropolitan. With Josephine Antoine and Charles Kullmann as the lovers, Helen Oelheim in the role of Maddalena and Thelma Votipka cast for Giovanna, the newly acquired youthful members of the company received a splendid chance to prove their capabilities. It cannot be said that they made the most of the opportunity.

Miss Antoine, who seemed to show promise at her debut as Philine in "Mignon," failed to live up to expectations in the far more exacting part of Gilda. Deficiencies which were attributed to nervousness at her initial appearance last Saturday were found yesterday evening to be definitely established and not accidental. Moreover, Philine was on the whole better sung, with a nearer approach to demands than the Gilda, whose music requires a voice far more brilliant, ample and capable of dramatic effects than Miss Antoine's in its present state of development.

The new coloratura soprano was able to portray the girlishness and innocence of the unhappy heroine of the morbid plot, but its deeper implications remained a mystery to her. Her voice was again better in the few notes just above the staff than in its uppermost reaches or in its medium and lower registers. In the "Caro Nome" showpiece Miss Antoine was entirely unimpressive, when one considers what her predecessors have accomplished with it at the house. Her tones were sweet and sympathetic in quality, but small, ineffective and without sparkle. There was vocal flexibility and charm of phrasing in the rendition of the aria, but no glamour. And the final E in alt was a sorely blemished and constricted tone that grew flat in the middle and was suddenly jerked up to pitch thereafter.

Mr. Kullman looked the Duke more than most tenors who have essayed the rôle at the Metropolitan in the recent past. But he was also a lightweight vocalist. When power was needed he forced, and the upper tones often grew unsteady and quavering in the process. But he sang with understanding and grace of phrase, bringing a considerable amount of passion to the love duet in the garden.

The rest of the cast remained as before. Mr. Tibbett will probably be a more convincing Rigoletto when he has given it further study. As yet he has not wormed his way fully beneath the surface of the jester's psychology. Nor has he realized completely the vocal possibilities of the jester's music. At times the voice had a glorious ring to it, and at others, as in parts of the garden scene, the voice lost color and volume to a surprising degree. It was Mr. Gandolfi's Monterone that dominated the first act by the dignity and strength of a portrayal which brought the minor rôle to unusual significance, even if this was done by acting rather than by vocal efficiency. Mr. Panizza conducted.




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