[Met Performance] CID:122660
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {154} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/22/1938., Broadcast


Metropolitan Opera House
January 22, 1938 Matinee Broadcast


Figaro..................John Charles Thomas
Rosina..................Lily Pons
Count Almaviva..........Bruno Landi
Dr. Bartolo.............Pompilio Malatesta
Don Basilio.............Ezio Pinza
Berta...................Irra Petina
Fiorello................Wilfred Engelman
Sergeant................Giordano Paltrinieri

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Joseph Urban

[In the Lesson Scene Pons sang Villanelle (Dell'Acqua) and Ach ich liebte from Die Entführung aus dem Serail.]

Il Barbiere received six performances this season.

Photograph of John Charles Thomas as Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Leon Elzin.

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

Lily Pons Sings With Thomas in Rossini Opera

Soprano Makes Her Season's Debut in Metropolitan in 'Barbiere di Sviviglia'

He Takes Figaro Role

Landi, Malatesta and Pinza Heard in Ancient Work

Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" had its first performance at the Metropolitan Opera House since February 8, 1932, yesterday afternoon, when a capacity audience heard Lily Pons, making her first appearance of the season as Rosina, and John Charles Thomas, who sang Figaro for the first time in this house. There was also a new Count Almaviva, Bruno Landi, while Pompilio Malatesta and Ezio Pinza, who had been heard with Mme. Pons in the last representation of this perennial opera buffa six years ago, reappeared as Dr. Bartolo and Don Basilio.

"Barbiere," which is nearing its 122d. birthday, has grown no older during the past six years, and furnished its hearers with much amusement in yesterday's generally spirited performance under Gennaro Papi's direction. Ideally, a lighter touch and more subtly humorous treatment would probably be more in accord with the spirit and style of Rosin's score, but fairly obvious comedy depending considerably upon stage business can be regarded as more or less inevitable, considering the Metropolitan's vast spaces and the loss of verbal contributions to the development of the comedy for those not familiar with Italian, or with the play of Beaumarchais on which Sterbini's libretto is based.

Mme. Pons, in appearance and stature, was a plausible and very attractive Rosina, as in 1931 and 1932, and interpreted the role ably from a dramatic point of view. In "Una voce" she sang 'with her familiar vocal ease and fluency; the clarity and effortlessness of her best tones were often in evidence, but not without exceptions. As, however, the afternoon's schedule prevented a hearing of the Lesson scene, in which she sang Dell' Acqua's "Vilanelle" and an aria from Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio," more comprehensive comment on her singing this season must await a later occasion.

Mr. Thomas, whose fine voice had its usual generous sonority and full roundness of tone, was a genial, high-spirited Sevillian barber, in what seemed to be his best Metropolitan impersonation thus far from a histrionic standpoint. His "Largo al factotum," while effectively sung, did not quite reproduce the headlong, rapid-fire effect of the swift-paced Italian syllables at the close in the manner which marked the singing of the cavatina by his predecessor, Giuseppe De Luca, but the American baritone's singing showed a general mastery of the Rossiniesque style in addition to its usual tonal merits. Mr. Landi, in a well acted impersonation of the Count, did not equal the vocal standard of his debut in "Rigoletto" last week. There were well sung passages, but the stronger middle and upper tones sometimes lacked focus and roundness, and it occasionally seemed, in the first act, as if the young tenor was not yet entirely familiar with the acoustic requirements of this house.

Mr. Malatesta's divertingly querulous and bemused Bartolo has long been familiar here; likewise the notably stentorian-voiced and vigorously comic Basilio of Mr. Pinza. Irra Petina, as Berta, Wilfred Engelman and Giordano Paltrinieri completed a cast which received ardent applause and numerous curtain calls.

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