[Met Performance] CID:123350
Don Giovanni {96} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/15/1938.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 15, 1938


DON GIOVANNI {96}

Don Giovanni............Ezio Pinza
Donna Anna..............Dusolina Giannini
Don Ottavio.............Richard Crooks
Donna Elvira............Irene Jessner
Leporello...............Virgilio Lazzari
Zerlina.................Marita Farell
Masetto.................Louis D'Angelo
Commendatore............Emanuel List

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

Review of Henry Pleasants in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

"Don Giovanni" Ends Metropolitan Series - Dusolina Giannini and Pinza in Cast

The Metropolitan Opera Company closed its Philadelphia series at the Academy of Music last night with Mozart's "Don Giovanni." It has been a long time since the opera was last heard in Philadelphia, and it was more than a pleasure to welcome it back. For all the dated quality of its book, "Don Giovanni" contains passages of dramatic writing which even today are stunning in their cumulative effect. They must have come as a revelation to the good citizens of Prague who witnessed the first performance in 1787.

The fund of melodic and harmonic invention represented in this opera has hardly been surpassed even by Mozart. The logic of the composer's methods, his ability to make a point with the simplest means and in the most direct manner and the immense dramatic scope of the work can never cease to be a source of wonder and inspiration. Gounod may not have exaggerated when he called it "a wondrous example of truth, beauty of form, appropriateness of characterization, deep insight into the drama, purity of style, richness and restraint in instrumentation, charm and tenderness in the love passages, and power and pathos - a finished model of dramatic music."

The Metropolitan's current revival is a creditable if not a brilliant production. "Don Giovanni" has a cast of eight characters and there are no minor roles. It would probably be impossible these days to assemble a cast of singers sufficiently accomplished as vocalists and musicians to do the work justice. From the available material the present group is probably as capable as one could reasonably expect. Ezio Pinza, discarding the whiskers which commonly hide the features of even the best looking bassos, undertook the title role, bringing to it not only an ideal appearance but also type of finished vocalism which very nearly measured up to the ideal set by the music itself. He and Virgilio Lazzari, whose Leporello was a masterpiece of character acting and an example of how one can sing comically without singing badly, were the outstanding members of the cast.

The presence of the Don's female victims brought Philadelphia-born Dusolina Giannini to the Academy for the first appearance here in opera. This was an extraordinary circumstance, considering that Miss Giannini has held a position among the ranking operatic sopranos of the time for more than a decade. Her Donna Anna is very favorably regarded abroad, probably because of the artist's refinement, musicianship and experience rather than because of the beauty of her voice or manner of its employment. This is a soprano brilliant to the point of being metallic and sometimes to the extreme of shrillness. But while her voice is neither warm nor especially expressive, Miss Giannini impresses the listener by her intuitive artistry and the dignity of her bearing.

The versatile Irene Jessner was an effective Donna Elvira, although her vocal style fell short of the purity becoming Mozart. A newcomer, Marita Farell, sang the music of Zerlina very agreeably in a small voice of superior quality. Richard Crooks scored a considerable personal success in his impersonation of Don Ottavio, and the audience was obviously inclined to overlook the nasal quality which marred the "Il mio tesoro" aria. Louis D'Angelo's Masetto was a telling contribution, and Emmanuel List was a sonorous Commendatore. It was indeed, a great night for the lower men's voices. Ettore Panizza was the conductor.



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