[Met Performance] CID:11940
New production
Semiramide {2} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/12/1894.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 12, 1894
New production

Rossini-Ga. Rossi

Semiramide..............Nellie Melba
Arsace..................Sofia Scalchi
Assur...................Edouard de Reszke
Idreno..................Pedro Guetary
Oroe....................Armand Castelmary
Nino's Ghost............Antonio De Vaschetti

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

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

Semiramide received seven performances this season.

Unsigned review from the New York Evening Post

It was generally supposed that Rossini's "Semiramide" would disappear entirely with the retirement from the operatic stage of Mme. Patti, the only singer who in recent decades has been able to keep it afloat. It cannot be denied that regular opera-goers do not care so much as formerly for the florid style of song of which this opera is a typical exemplar, and it was supposed that there would not be another singer who could do justice to this difficult antiquated style. But herein evidently a mistake was made --- the mistake of taking into account only Europe and America. It was overlooked that there is another continent, Australia, distinguished by the fact that its fauna and flora belong to former geological epochs. That this continent, in which everything else is belated, should produce a prima-donna of the class in vogue in former musical epochs seems quite natural. At the same time one cannot help feeling sorry for such a belated singer. For operas are usually short-lived things, and the public likes them fresh; but modern composers no longer write florid operas anywhere - be it France, Germany, or Italy; hence the belated prima-donna is obliged to revive old operas with which we can no longer be in sympathy.

Not that age in itself is fatal to an opera --- as witness "Don Juan." But "Semiramide" is not a "Don Juan," even though the influence of that opera is heard in the ghost music. Rossini introduced so much "German" spirit into this opera that his countrymen condemned it, and made him so disgusted that he shook the Italian dust off his feet and went to Paris to compose for the French. Today "Semiramide" seems to us extremely Italian, and not in the best sense of the word. Its orchestration is thin, and its vocal style is over-ornate, and appeals only to those who are willing to have the human voice degraded to the level of the inarticulate flute.

How essentially unvocal this style really is was shown last evening by the fact that so excellent a singer as M. Edouard de Reszke could not feel at ease in it. As for Mme. Scalchi, her singing of florid music, and the singing of florid music by a contralto in general, is an acquired taste. We have never acquired it, and our frank opinion would therefore probably be discourteous. In the soprano voice florid songs seems less objectionable; one can think of a flute or a canary bird and find the human voice more beautiful in comparison. Mme. Melba is undoubtedly the only living singer who could do justice to the role of Semiramide. Although not quite well last evening, she sang her part with rare technical finish, beauty of tone, and brilliancy of execution, winning the warmest applause. The general level of the performance was high and the scenery pretty; consequently the performance must be pronounced a success.

Unsigned review in The New York Times


Mme. Melba Very Successful as the Bravura Queen of the Stage.

After several postponements on account of the illness of the prima donna, Rossini's remarkably florid opera, "Semiramide," was brought forward Friday evening at the Metropolitan Opera House. It was Mme. Melba's first appearance in the trying part of the bravura queen, and considerable curiosity was excited by the event. Unfortunately, the lady was not in the best of voice. This climate has, apparently, proved to be extremely trying to her delicate vocal organs. This is a great pity, for it has prevented the public from hearing more frequently one of the most accomplished vocalists who has ever sung in America. Her performance Friday night was a convincing proof of her mastery of her art for, in spite of the troublesome condition of her throat, she sang beautifully. Her execution of "Bel raggio," and of her share in the difficult duo, "Giorno d'Orrore," was very brilliant, and called forth long and loud applause.

The other members of the cast were Mme. Scalchi as Arsace, Edouard de Reszke as Assur, Signor Guetary as Idreno, Signor Castelmary as Oroe, and Signor de Vaschetti as the Shade of Ninus. Mme. Scalchi's Arsace was made known to this public some years ago at the Academy of Music, when she sang the part with Mme. Patti as Semiramide. Although the popular contralto's voice is no longer as good as it was in those days, she is still capable of pleasing the public, and she was warmly applauded. M. de Reszke was a magnificent Assur, surprising his hearers by his facile delivery of the ornate music. The opera was handsomely put on the stage. The popular overture was admirably played, and Signor Mancinelli conducted with his unfailing skill

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