[Met Performance] CID:120610
Aida {409} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/6/1937., Broadcast

(Debut: Gina Cigna

Metropolitan Opera House
February 6, 1937 Matinee Broadcast

AIDA {409}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Gina Cigna [Debut]
Radamès.................Giovanni Martinelli
Amneris.................Bruna Castagna
Amonasro................Carlo Morelli
Ramfis..................Ezio Pinza
King....................Norman Cordon
Messenger...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Priestess...............Thelma Votipka
Dance...................Daphne Vane
Dance...................William Dollar

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

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


Former La Scala Soprano Well Received in Part of Aida at the Metropolitan


Singing in Verdi Work Wins for Her Many Curtain Calls - Martinelli in Cast

Gina Cigna, recently of La Scala and also of leading opera houses in Europe and South America, made her début in this country yesterday afternoon as Aida in the Metropolitan Opera House. She was very well received, and her appearance gave notice that the Metropolitan has in her a new soprano well equipped by the quality of her voice and the resources of her technique to do justice to this great role.

Miss Cigna may not unnaturally have felt a degree of strain in performing for the first time before a Metropolitan audience and in an auditorium of proportions and acoustics which have sometimes proved a disconcerting ordeal for experienced singers. She herself quite possibly realized the need here and there for certain vocal adjustments. But she interpreted the Aida part with a complete grasp of its dramatic and lyrical elements, prevailingly with beauty and color of tone, with ample sonority and with the style of a musician. It may also be said that her presence communicated a certain fire and conviction to others of the cast, so that again Verdi's superb music drama was given with the irresistible eloquence inherent in the music.

She Has Necessary Spirit

This impersonation was also remindful of the fact that adequacy, not only of technique but of spirit, is necessary when a great part is to presented in its complete significance. Such airs as "Ritorna vincitor" or "Patria mia" attain a classic nobility of line and intensity of feeling which only an artist aware of the full import of the music communicates. In the final scene there is necessary the sensuous coloring and the fine spinning of tone to do justice to Verdi's song of love for the world well lost

The passage can be given inordinate sentimentality. Miss Cigna, with Giovanni Martinelli, and without sacrificing the fervent. Italianism of the passage, gave it also the intended dignity and poignancy. Her capacities as an artist are promisingly forecast by this performance and also by the rôles which have been announced for her to take here which include that of Norma. There were many curtain calls and shouts of approval for this singer.

Bruna Castagna is Amneris

Mr. Martinelli was in unusually good voice and he kindled to the spirit of Radames's music. Bruna Castagna sang the magnificent part of Amneris with the warmth and dramatic accent which are native to her. It may be that an Amneris of a grander manner would have become the great scene of the fourth act. Something not less impassionate but more towering and a vocal style a little more aristocratic, might have further distinguished the part. However, it lived, and lived intensely; its music had its old-time thrill.

Carlo Morelli's Amonasro won favor. Ezio Pinza sang the part of Ramfis, in which he made his Metropolitan début, and few bring to it such quality of tone. Norman Cordon's High Priest added to his merits. The conductor was Ettore Panizza whose "Aida" reading is one of special effect. The house was packed to its limit, and the occasion charged with enthusiasm.

Review of Marcia Davenport in Stage magazine

Music was the biggest noise in the news over the weekend of February fifth. Within forty-eight hours the announcement of Maestro Toscanini's impending return to America, the debut of Gina Cigna at the Metropolitan, and her delivery of a remarkable vocal broadcast brought your musical reporter to such a state of excitement that she has hardly cooled off enough to apply herself to the present (sober, we hope) writing. This is the time and place, however, to say - as thousands of people have been thinking and saying - that it is possible to get an overdose of Wagner. No lack of honor or appreciation is implied in this. But there are many music-lovers to whom the human voice in all its glory as a unique instrument is a necessary part of a complete musical life. To be sure, fine Wagner is infinitely preferable to indifferent anything else, and fine Wagner we have surely had. But it has been fine by virtue of a few extraordinary singers, and the Italian opera has dwindled and suffered for lack of such singers, not because there is anything wrong with the music. Then all of a sudden a Franco-Italian soprano gives us an Aida that is the genuine article. A huge segment of the musical public, long hungry and doggedly patient, throws its hats a mile in the air, and the Metropolitan is on its way back to Parnassus.

Familiar dramatic fads about music are so old and yet so new. Put one great artist into a routine cast and production and before you know it your routinists will catch fire and deliver something with thrills in it. This happened at the "Aida" of Madame Cigna's debut. She herself was a shade nervous at the beginning, but she had not sung more than a few minutes before it was apparent that she had what it takes. She is intelligent and graceful as an actress; original, too, within the limitations of operatic convention. She has charm, and she has ample command of every phase of her job. But it was along in the third act, during the "Patria Mia," that it struck me I had not heard such technical prowess in a singer in a very long time. Her phrasing is masterly. Like fine bowing, it can command a variety of light and shade, a superb tessitura, all on one ample breath. Her crescendo is often faultless, and from it she can decrease to a vibrant pianissimo, and at the same time drop down a fifth or an octave, sure-footed and pure. This is pretty thrilling stuff, when technical mastery of the throat and diaphragm happens to absorb and excite one as much as perfection with the fiddle and bow. As a musician Cigna is really remarkable, which is demonstrated better by her fine pianissimo than by almost anything else. She is not afraid to use it and she violates no law of music or singing for the sake of effect.

As a voice, Cigna's is not the most moving I have heard, being distinctly of the penetrating Latin kind. It has less of humanity than of scintillance, but it is never white or cold; and the unquestionable truth seems to emerge from all this analysis that the most emotional voices are very apt not to have the finest technique. One can get along without the latter, until something happens to make one thrill all over again to the music of Verdi and Bellini when sung by a real mistress of their exactions. It hits me square in the spine and I am frank to admit that there can be, for me, no comparable thrill in opera. Cigna has her limitations, nearly all of which lie in the middle register; her top is gorgeous - pure, dazzling, and very exciting. Her low register has warmth and much feeling. But the middle sometimes disappoints; here the splendid control is not so evident, and her intelligent capacity for dramatic expression seems to lose somewhat its otherwise firm and definite impact.

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