[Met Performance] CID:120770
La Gioconda {135} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/18/1937.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 18, 1937


LA GIOCONDA {135}
Ponchielli-Boito

La Gioconda.............Gina Cigna
Enzo....................Giovanni Martinelli
Laura...................Bruna Castagna
Barnaba.................Carlo Morelli
Alvise..................Virgilio Lazzari
La Cieca................Doris Doe
Zuàne...................Wilfred Engelman
Isèpo...................Giordano Paltrinieri
Monk....................Louis D'Angelo
Steersman...............Arnold Gabor
Singer..................Wilfred Engelman
Singer..................Giordano Paltrinieri
Dance...................Leda Anchutina
Dance...................Gisella Caccialanza
Dance...................Rabana Hasburgh
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Holly Howard
Dance...................Elise Reiman
Dance...................Kathryn Mullowny
Dance...................Anatol Vilzak

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

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Antonio Rovescalli
Set designer............Joseph Novak
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert
Choreographer...........George Balanchine

La Gioconda received two performances this season.



Review of Howard Taubman in The New York Times


Ponchielli's "La Gioconda," which was absent from the Metropolitan Opera's repertoire last season, was presented last night and the performance was termed a revival. There must be many operagoers who missed "La Gioconda" and were so grateful to see it back that the management felt it could justly call this production a revival. Signs of enthusiasm were disclosed throughout the evening, and singers, chorus, ballet, orchestra and conductor were all objects of approval at various movements.

The return of "La Gioconda" was made possible by the presence of Gina Cigna, the Italian dramatic soprano. She has already sung in "Aida" and Trovatore" and will undertake "Norma" tomorrow afternoon. She will have these four exacting roles to her credit within a fortnight, which is no mean achievement. Miss Cigna sang Gioconda with a command of the style and tradition of the rôle. She carries herself with dignity and acts with restraint. She knows that when the music is captivating the voice is the best medium for reaching the audience. The upper half of her voice was more powerful and controlled than the middle. Miss Cigna affected chest tones that did not always convince. But there is no need to split tonal hairs. Miss Cigna's performance was rewardingly communicative.

Bruna Castagna was an opulent-voiced Laura. Her duet with Miss Cigna in the second act had intensity and dramatic impact. Doris Doe replaced Anna Kaskas at short notice as la Cieca and gave a credible, moving performance. Giovanni Martinelli, who seems to have discovered the fountain of youth, sang with freshness of voice and stopped the show with the ever-popular "Cielo e mar." Carlo Morelli was more hearty than sinister as Barnaba, but his voice was in good estate and a ballad such as "Ah, pescator" went with a jolly spirit. Virgilio Lazzari was a somber Alvise; his big air at the beginning of the third act was ominous, according to the rules.

The gay furlana in the first act was danced by the American ballet in lively fashion, and the "Dance of the Hours" evoked a thunderous reception. It was ever thus. "La Gioconda" is heaped up and flowing over with every manner of effective tune. It needs only great singers to reestablish it as one of the most favored works in the repertoire. The Metropolitan is beginning once again to populate its Italian operas with superior artists. In Ettore Panizza it has a vigorous conductor who brings vigor and conviction to a work like "La Gioconda."



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