[Met Performance] CID:122960
Carmen {354} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/14/1938.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 14, 1938


CARMEN {354}

Carmen..................Bruna Castagna
Don José................Jan Kiepura
Micaela.................Queena Mario
Escamillo...............Ezio Pinza
Frasquita...............Thelma Votipka
Mercédès................Helen Olheim
Remendado...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Dancaïre................George Cehanovsky
Zuniga..................Louis D'Angelo
Moralès.................Wilfred Engelman

Act IV Ballet - Arranged by George Balanchine
1. Gitane: Rosita Ortega
2. Farucca: César Tapià, American Ballet Ensemble
3. Farandole: Rosita Ortega, César Tapià, American Ballet Ensemble

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

Carmen received seven performances this season.



Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

On the stage, at least, of the Metropolitan Opera House there was given last night an extremely interesting and spirited performance of Bizet's "Carmen." The new element in the cast was Jan Kiepura, the young Polish tenor, who is making his second appearance with the Metropolitan Opera Association this season. He is youthful, not only in years, but in his spontaneity and warmth of feeling and his complete sincerity.

To convey these qualities to his audience Mr. Kiepura is gifted with an unusually fine tenor voice. It has a manly ring and warmth, a good range and a well-developed scale. What prevents Mr. Kiepura, or did prevent him last night, from getting all he can from his voice is his tenseness and his tendency to force in moments of excitement. This hurts the tone, actually deprives it of its full measure of roundness and brilliancy and sometimes results in passing and accidental defections from pitch. There is however nothing here that cannot be adjusted and matured. It is probable, as a truly dramatic temperament finds its equilibrium, with the poise and ripening that a few more seasons will bring that Mr. Kiepura's fine voice and expressive nature will bring their rewards, which already are great.

A. gifted singer, and also a personable one, his presence on the stage gave the whole performance stimulus. His youthfulness was almost boyishness. While he did not represent exactly the character of the librettists-he looked like a young West Point cadet, earnest, callow and beardless-this very appearance emphasized the dramatic contrast with the more sophisticated Carmen.
Repeatedly Mr. Kiepura not only entertained but moved his audience -by the Flower Song, and at the end of the third Act, never interpreted with such fervor, and this in spite of some exaggeration which can be forgiven because of the genuineness of the emotion. It is true that Carmen, wild with rage, seeing red, would not, in this moment of new stage business, have threatened Jose with a knife, and then thrown it away. She would have struck to kill when Jose, desperate, bared his breast and invited death. Nevertheless, this was a real moment, enhanced by several actors, including Miss Castagna and Miss Mario, the Micaela.

It is a pity that the voice of the latter does not equal in its texture her wonderful interpretation of a proverbially colorless role. No singer we remember ever did so much in the interpretive sense with every note and phrase of Micaela's insipid song, or made her such a salient motive of the drama. Miss Castagna's Carmen continues to develop, in color, variety and significance of detail, in the richness and sensuousness of the voice and communicativeness, the entire conception. She was born with the voice and the sensibility for the Carmen post. Mr. Pinza sang through a cold, but with admirable esprit, and he cut a truly dashing figure as the Toreador -- gallant, fatuous, reckless of danger.

The other individual parts have often been mentioned and need no discussion here. Rosita Ortega, radiantly beautiful, danced a superb solo in the ballet of the last act. The male solo dancer was Cesar Tapia Both soloists were aided by the American Ballet ensemble. The chorus did not distinguish itself, perhaps for a reason allied with the fact that Mr. Papi's conducting was a triumphal example of a routine, unimaginative, unpredictable in attack, without clearness or dramatic inciveness.



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