[Met Performance] CID:12020
Roméo et Juliette {12} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/19/1894.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 19, 1894


Roméo...................Jean de Reszke
Juliette................Nellie Melba
Frère Laurent...........Pol Plançon
Stéphano................Olimpia Guercia
Mercutio................Jean Martapoura
Benvolio................Antonio Rinaldini
Gertrude................Mathilde Bauermeister
Capulet.................Eugène Dufriche
Tybalt..................Georges Mauguière
Grégorio................Antonio De Vaschetti
Duke of Verona..........Lodovico Viviani

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

Nellie Melba repeated Juliette's Waltz

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


Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" with De Reszke and Melba in the Cast

There seems to be no doubt now that heretofore the public has not been wholly pleased with the parts in which Mme. Melba appeared. Nedda in "Pagliacci" was out of her line and for "Lucia" the music lovers of this city have no great fondness. After having been heard in these, the prima donna was taken with the grip and it was only after several disappointments that she finally appeared in "Semiramide." Assurance that she was in a condition to do herself justice in one of her favorite parts must have had much to do with the size of the house last night. The opera was Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette," a lovely work, and one that is bound to increase its hold on the hearer's affection with every repetition. The audience was one that quite filled the house and it was repaid for its attention by an admirable performance.

In Juliette Mme. Melba has abundant opportunity for the display of her remarkably beautiful voice, but it is only in the waltz song of the first act that she is enabled to exhibit her splendid command of the ornaments of song. In this number last night she fairly delighted her hearers and long-continued applause compelled her to repeat the number. In the love duet of the second act the exquisite smoothness and quaility of her tone and the perfection of her phrasing were heard to advantage. Throughout the remainder of the evening her singing was in every way worthy of an artist of the first rank. It must be remembered that this praise is evoked by her singing considered as singing pure and simple. There was much to be desired in respect of warmth of sentiment and Mme. Melba made little attempt to give dramatic significance to her action.

M. Jean de Reszke's Romeo is too well known to need extended comment at this time. Last night the tenor was far from well, but this fact in no way impaired his vigor or earnestness. It was plain that his performance cost him a good deal of effort. but his work was full of dramatic virility. In the finale following the duel scene he aroused great and long-continued enthusiasm.

M. Edouard de Reszke was to have sung Frere Laurence, but he was sick in bed with influenza. His place was well filled by M. Plançon, whose sonorous voice and fine phrasing are well adapted to this part. M. Plançon's place as Capulet was taken by M. Dufriche and here the substitution was less happy. M. Martapoura was again the Mercutio and H. Maugiere was the Tybalt. The work of the orchestra deserves especial commendation and Signor Mancinelli, as usual, is to be praised for his admirable conducting. On the whole the performance was one of the best of the season. It Is a great pity that so great a singer as Mme. Melba does not give the public a better conception of the part of Juliette. Her splendid treatment of the music contrasting with her neglect of the dramatic opportunities of the role suggests that, like the Frenchman of story, she may have heard of Shakespeare only as Gounod's librettist.

Photograph of Nellie Melba as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette by Falk.

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