[Met Performance] CID:120870
Metropolitan Opera Premiere (Il Matrimonio Segreto)
Concerto {3}
Il Matrimonio Segreto {1}
Metropolitan Opera House: 02/25/1937.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)
(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 25, 1937


CONCERTO {3} Classic Ballet in One Act
Chopin: Piano Concerto in F Minor

a) Maestoso: Gisella Caccialanza, Rabana Hasburgh, Kathryn Mullowny,
Yvonne Patterson (Last performance), Daphne Vane, Annabelle Lyon
William Dollar, Choreographer

b) Larghetto: Holly Howard, William Dollar, Charles Laskey
George Balanchine, Choreographer

c) Allegro Vivace: Leda Anchutina, Elise Reiman, Helen Leitch,
Lew Christensen, American Ballet Ensemble
William Dollar, Choreographer

Nicolas Kopeikine, Piano

Conductor...............Wilfred Pelletier


Metropolitan Opera Premiere
In English

IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO {1}
Cimarosa-Bertati

Carolina................Muriel Dickson
Paolino.................George Rasely
Elisetta................Natalie Bodanya
Robinson................Julius Huehn
Fidalma.................Irra Petina
Geronimo................Louis D'Angelo

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Set designer............Jonel Jorgulesco

Translation by Reginald Gatty and Albert Stoessel
New Recitatives by Albert Stoessel

Il Matrimonio Segreto received two performances this season.

Alternate titles: The Secret Marriage; The Clandestine Marriage.

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

Metropolitan Gives Cimarosa Opera Comedy

Its First Performance of 'Secret Marriage' Is Season's Second Novelty

Best Laugh Unscheduled

Natalie Bodanya Sings On as She Loses Underskirt

For its second novelty of the season the Metropolitan Opera Association turned to the late eighteenth century offering Domenico Cimarosa's "The Clandestine Marriage" last night for the first time in a double bill opened by a short choreographic work, designated simply as "Classic Ballet," based on Chopin's F minor concerto. Ettore Panizza conducted the opera, with a cast including several of the singers who had figured in the recent notable production of "The Bartered Bride," such as Muriel Dickson, singing her second role at the Metropolitan; Natalie Bodanya, Louis D'Angelo and George Rasely. Wilfred Pelletier conducted the orchestra for the ballet, in which Nicholas Kopeikine was the piano soloist.

"The Clandestine Marriage" or to use a shorter and equally apt title, "The Secret Marriage," was first produced in Vienna in 1792, and became an international favorite during the remaining years of that century. It was first heard in this borough in 1834. But was long unknown here, apart from its overture, when the Juilliard School of music produced it in April 1933, using the translation which was again heard last night.

Giulio Gatti-Casazza had planned a production of this notable operatic comedy, in Giovanni Bertan's original Italian libretto, for his last season two years ago, but did not carry out the idea and thus the work made its Metropolitan debut as the third comic opera to be offered under Mr. Johnson's regime in English translation.

The production was, in many ways, distinguished and often amusing although the greatest laughter was for an event not prescribed by the libretto when Miss Bodayna singing the role of the elder of Geronimo's two daughters Elisetta, found that an underskirt had dropped from its moorings. She deftly maneuvered it toward the wings and finally kicked the garment offstage. Then she continued to act with unruffled self-possession. Fortunately the action was not ill-suited to the situation as Elisetta is indulging in a tantrum on learning that Count Robinson, who had promised marriage, detests her.

Cimarosa's music heard after a span of nearly a century and a half, still impresses as the work of an expert operatic craftsman with a sense of humor and a liberal supply of well-wrought tunes. The score often recalls Mozart, although it is more likely this reflects the operatic style of the period than the influence of the composer's greatest contemporary, there are some anticipations of the Rossini of "The Barber of Seville" in his more serious moments. Cimarosa has written measures of marked appeal and charm, but he cannot reproduce a Mozartian emotional range or saliency of inspiration; his melodies do not dwell in the memory in the manner of those of "The Marriage of Figaro," for instance, however, his music still has vitality in its second century, and merits a place in today's repertory.

Last night's performance left some room for speculation as to whether "The Secret Marriage" is not better suited to a playhouse of intimate dimensions than to a theater of the Metropolitan's expansiveness. The roles were on the whole well cast, the English translation proved serviceable and Mr. Stoessel in his recitatives had preserved the general atmosphere of Cimarosa's score. Mr. Huehn and Mr. D'Angelo scored the highest percentage of intelligibility, the former doing especially laudable work in this regard, but by listening to the performance, it was possible at least to follow the general outline of the typical opera-buffa plot.

The production gave evidence of careful preparation, but yet did not altogether fulfill expectations. Mr. Panizza's tempi seemed more leisurely than those he might have observed had the performance been in Italian, probably in order to assure understanding of the text. But this meant that some of the momentum and effervescence of the work was lost and there were times when interest tended to lapse. This, however, may be remedied in a later performance when more confidence and Úlan may replace the impression of cautiousness which was sometimes to be noticed last night.

Miss Dickson's Caroline was attractive in appearance, while the impersonation in general was prepossessing and intelligently and artistically conceived, although it sometimes suggested a somewhat over-studied demureness. Her voice usually clear and well produced, was at it best after gaining volume in the second act, the tone quality was appealing, but a slight hardness of the tonal surface could be noticed from time to time. Miss Bodanya, although her voice was of insufficiently different quality to give a thorough idea of the contrast of character between the two sisters sang very commendably in an able interpretation, while Miss Petina contributed the major part of the evening's success of risibility as the maiden aunt. Mr. Huehn's Count and Mr. D"Angelo's Geronimo both deserved praise; Mr. Rasely's Paolino had its merits, but the characterization was handicapped by undue reserve. Mr. Jorguleso's settings, including an inner curtain to give the impression of an eighteenth century atmosphere proved appropriate. The audience gave cordial, while not unusually emphatic, applause.



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