[Met Performance] CID:120110
Carmen {344} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/30/1936.

(Debut: Maclovia Ruiz
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 30, 1936 Matinee


CARMEN {344}
Bizet-Meilhac/L. Halévy

Carmen..................Gertrud Wettergren
Don José................Charles Kullman
Micaela.................Queena Mario
Escamillo...............Ezio Pinza
Frasquita...............Thelma Votipka
Mercédès................Helen Olheim
Remendado...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Dancaïre................George Cehanovsky
Zuniga..................Louis D'Angelo
Moralès.................Wilfred Engelman

Act IV Ballet arranged by George Balanchine
1. Gitane: Ruthanna Boris, American Ballet Ensemble
2. Farucca: Maclovia Ruiz [Debut], American Ballet Ensemble
3. Farandole: Ruthanna Boris, Mona Montes, Joseph Levinoff, American Ballet Ensemble

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Director................Désiré Defrère
Designer................Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Gretel Urban [ballet only]
Choreographer...........George Balanchine

Carmen received eight performances this season.


Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

Bizet's "Carmen" was performed yesterday afternoon in the Metropolitan Opera House for the benefit of a group of six Near Eastern colleges, with Gertrud Wettergren in the title rôle. The opera, as is usual, attracted a very large audience, and a delighted one. In the four boxes nearest the stage were students from Near Eastern colleges that were represented, including Robert College of Istanbul, the Istanbul Woman's College, the American University of Beirut, the American College, Sofia; Athens College, Greece, and the International College of Beirut, Syria.

The reception of the opera was tribute, first of all, to the genius of Georges Bizet, who knew how to be at once popular and great, how to speak in profound and tragic accents of humanity, and at the same time be clear, light-footed, intense with an intensity and wealth of coloring that the most superficial listener would find it hard to escape. Nor, in mentioning the music, must the masterly libretto be forgotten, the work of Meilhac and Halevy. Admitting the French operatic conventions of the day, this is one of the most dramatic and admirably proportioned libretti ever handed a composer.

Good Taste in Evidence

All the singers In this performance have been heard within recent date at the Metropolitan, and the cast was almost exactly that which presented "Carmen" last year when Miss Wettergren made her first New York appearance in the part. Her Carmen. again gave much pleasure and appealed to the good taste as well as the entertainment of the beholder because of the fact that it is so sincerely felt, so intelligently proportioned and never overdone. What it lacks in a certain measure is the sensuous element and the broad sweep. The elemental attributes of the superb human animal who drew the soldier from his barracks and destroyed him and caused the bullfighter to risk his life in the mountain pass are not fully realized or conveyed by the color of the voice. But Miss Wettergren's grace and sensibility are admirable and Bizet's music says very much, given that much chance, in combination with the text, which Miss Wettergren sang in creditable, if not perfect, French, and not in Swedish, as last year.

The Climax

How good it was to see a Carmen who did not spill all over the lot when she sang the too famous "Habanera," and who invested the "Seguidilla" with real coquetry and subtlety of expression. She sang the song over her shoulder to the resistant Jose, not to the audience. She meant it for him, though she sang softly at first, as in a soliloquy-"Je chante pour moi-même!" Only at the last came the exultant outburst as Carmen knew that the arrow had found its mark, that the man was hers, to be molded to her wish and her will.

There are many such fine strokes of characterization in this Carmen. Miss Wettergren's opposite was Charles Kullman, whose fresh and manly voice, and growing authority in his rôle, and genuine feeling, made for an eloquent and communicative interpretation. Mr. Pinza sang the popular but very difficult Toreador's song with the beauty of tone which is his and with the action the occasion demanded, if not with good French or in the Gallic style.

Other details of the performance may be dismissed on this occasion. A handsome sum must have been realized for the benefit of the Near-Eastern educational institutions. Mr. Papi conducted.



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