[Met Performance] CID:123450
Faust {416} Lyric Theater, Baltimore, Maryland: 03/23/1938.


Baltimore, Maryland
March 23, 1938

FAUST {416}

Faust...................Richard Crooks
Marguerite..............Helen Jepson
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................John Brownlee
Siebel..................Helen Olheim
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................Wilfred Engelman

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

Review of Helen A. F. Penniman in the Baltimore News-Post

Opera Lovers Acclaim "Faust" At Lyric

'Stop Show' Upon Several Occasions;' Laud Helen Jepson

Opera lovers were in festive mood at the Lyric last night for "Faust" from the time they entered the theatre to find the orchestra engaged in that delightfully nerve-tingling exercise of "warming up." And as the number of melody lovers in the audience was probably much greater than on Monday and Tuesday, they proceeded to "stop the show" on several occasions. They held up the performance after Helen Jepson, as Marguerite, had sung the "Jewel Song," after the aria in the garden, sung by Richard Crooks, in the role of Faust. Also after Ezio Pinza's skillful satiric presentation of the third act serenade and after John Brownlee's singing of the famous Valentin aria, "Dio Possente."

Both words and music of the eighty-year old Gounod opera are too familiar to call for detailed descriptions, yet it is amazing how the staunch substance of the beautiful airs has survived their frequent ill-usage and breathe with renewed life under worthy treatment. It was Helen Jepson's first Baltimore appearance, and the satisfaction of the audience was evidently great, at the bestowal of a Marguerite, young, slim and pretty, with a clear and agreeable voice, which, while in no sense epochal, enabled the young singer to give a very creditable performance.


Like most Marguerites of late years, she reached her high point in the emotional climax of Act V, proving that she has traveled far on the road toward complete artistry. Richard Crooks is another young American whose progress is gratifying to observe. He uses his tenor with an understanding approaching distinction and, though his acting has not yet achieved complete conviction, it shows poise and intelligence. We shall hear him in concert next week. Still a third young singing actor appearing was John Brownlee, whose light barytone, though of no great range, is of excellent quality and emotional timbre while the effective Siebel of Helen Oelheim almost made one content that the part has never been rewritten for a man's voice to suite modern taste.


As for the Mephistopheles of Ezio Pinza, it is a classic of the present era in opera and, like good wine, "needs no bush" to call attention to merit and flavor. The reliable Thelma Votipka was competent, as always, while the Wagner if Wilfred Engelman was outstanding in stage deportment. In the Kermesse scene the ensemble acquitted themselves admirably in spite of stereotyped and uninspired direction and the American Ballet contributed a polished version of the familiar valse, with Wilfred Pelletier conducting in excellent fashion.


It was entirely beyond his control that the organ music used in the Act IV was so much too loud that it overpowered the singers and tended to blur the melodic design. The company was insistently recalled at the close of each act, and at the end of the opera there was considerable enthusiasm, proving a fitting climax for the finale of the city's annual spring opera festival.

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