[Met Performance] CID:121620
Mignon {74} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 05/15/1937., Broadcast

(Debut: Jennie Tourel

Metropolitan Opera House
May 15, 1937 Matinee Broadcast


Mignon..................Jennie Tourel [Debut]
Wilhelm Meister.........Armand Tokatyan
Philine.................Josephine Antoine
Lothario................Léon Rothier
Frédéric................Maria Matyas
Laërte..................Désiré Defrère
Jarno...................Norman Cordon
Antonio.................Norman Cordon
Dance...................William Dollar
Dance...................Ariel Lang

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

Review of Noel Straus in The New York Times

Yesterday afternoon's performance of "Mignon" at the Metropolitan was the most satisfying heard at that house in many a moon. This fact could be attributed largely to the presence in the cast of Jennie Tourel, who made her debut in the title rôle. For the excellence of her interpretation of Goethe's heroine obviously proved an inspiration to all concerned in the presentation and spurned them on to give of their best.

In Miss Tourel, a Canadian mezzo-soprano who has sung leading rôles many a time at the Opera Comique of Paris, the Metropolitan has found a valuable artist who should prove exceedingly useful in the main season, if available. Her Mignon was not only vocally all that it should be, but in point of acting and characterization as well, could be unreservedly commended.

Miss Tourel's pure, warm mezzo was the true Mignon voice. The part was not intended to be sung by a soprano originally and only a mezzo can bring out the real quality of its music as Miss Tourel did. Hers was the rare type of voice, in that particular category, which did not take on a soprano timbre above but carried the richness of quality of the lower register upward evenly throughout the entire scale. It was freely emitted, resonant, and exceptionally easily projected in the top tones, where most genuine mezzo reach hot water.

But above all, hers was a voice that could communicate emotion as few can. Miss Tourel projected Mignon's tenderness and pathos, humiliation and outraged pride, with a conviction and forcefulness quite out of the ordinary. And her singing expressed these contrasting needs as eloquently as her effective acting. Her approach to the "Connais-tu le pays," the "Swallow's duo, the "Styrienne" or the despairing monologue in the last scene of the second act were alike simple, direct and deeply human, with an inner intensity which proved exceedingly moving.

Armand Tokatyan was a personable Wilhelm Meister and sang admirably throughout. His fervid unfoldment of the "Adieu, Mignon," was particularly worthy of remark, but was merely one of the more striking moments in a pleasing and well-rendered envisagement of the rôle. The tenor had lost many a pound of flesh since his last appearance here in the opera and it gave a new youthfulness and grace to his impersonation.

As Lothario, Leon Rothier's utterances were not always steady or dependable in matters of pitch. But the voluminous, sympathetic quality of his song and his perfect diction gave distinction to his work. Desire Defrere was as always the finished character actor and efficient vocalist as Laerte. The Philline of the cast was again Josephine Antoine, who sang accurately, if not with the tonal weight and brilliance needed in the showy measures of this difficult part.

Francis D. Perkins in The New York Herald Tribune said of Miss Tourel:

The vocal quality proved appealing, despite some unevenness in tone production; some slightly forced notes in the higher register and a few lightly veiled tones in the middle and lower ranges probably indicated the usual psychological effect of making a Metropolitan debut. But the general quality of the lower tones such as those in the air "Connais-tu" was of a pleasing warmth and her top notes in the second act seemed well focused and possessed of expressive significance.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).