[Met Performance] CID:124100
Aida {426} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 11/29/1938.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 29, 1938

AIDA {426}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Maria Caniglia
Radamès.................Giovanni Martinelli
Amneris.................Bruna Castagna
Amonasro................Lawrence Tibbett
Ramfis..................Nicola Moscona
King....................John Gurney
Messenger...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Priestess...............Lucielle Browning
Dance...................Maria Gambarelli

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

Review of Henry Pleasants in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

The Metropolitan Opera company returned to the Academy of Music last night, bringing with it an intelligently restudied production of "Aida" and a new Italian soprano in the person of Maria Caniglia.

Maria Caniglia wasted no time in demonstrating that she has an abundance of both voice and experience. The latter was quite as obvious as the former, not because her performance was especially routined, but because her singing betrayed more bad habits than can be picked up overnight, even by one with some talent in such matters. This is voice which could be put to profitable use. It has range, power and color to spare. But Miss Caniglia abuses it and employs it to inartistic ends.

In both of her principal arias she frequently sang out of tune. She also made a number of unpleasant sounds. The high notes were forced and shrill, the low ones gruff and chesty. The middle register was generally the best, and in certain passages it was very good indeed. Interpretively Miss Caniglia was capable of nothing more expressive than could be provided by a certain superficial theatricality which often prompted her to distort phrases by rushing, dragging, or overemphasizing. Her acting was of a similar explosive variety, lacking in repose but wanting nothing in assurance. On the whole her Aida did not strike very deep into the character, but it was by no means the work of a neophyte. Miss Caniglia's faults were not those associated with inexperience.

Review of Linton Martin in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Caniglia In Debut As Aida

A new Aida was the news of "Aida" when that operatic warhorse by Verdi was given as the Metropolitan Opera Association's second offering of the season here in the Academy last night, with Maria Caniglia, Italian dramatic soprano, making her Philadelphia debut in the title role. The performance, and particularly the production, was acclaimed by a brilliant audience of virtually capacity size.

Besides the debut here of Miss Caniglia, who hails from Naples and has sung extensively throughout Italy as well as elsewhere in Europe and South America, the Metropolitan's new ballet made its first appearance in this city. The new choreography was devised by Boris Romanoff as ballet master, and the elaborate evolutions of the coryphées in the glittering Triumphal Scene were headed by Maria Gambarelli, premiere danseuse.

Surrounding Miss Caniglia was one of the strongest casts possible in the Italian wing of the great New York organization. It include in the other leading roles such familiar and outstanding artists as Giovanni Martinelli, unquestionably the foremost Radames of today; Bruna Castagna as the regal and superbly sung Amneris; and Lawrence Tibbett as the sonorous-voiced Amonasro, looking quite savage in his primitive makeup as the Ethiopian chieftain.


Not in years has the Metropolitan management caparisoned this Verdi warhorse more gorgeously, glitteringly and grandly. "Aida" offers almost unexampled opportunities for lavish staging, for pageantry and spectacle. These opportunities were amply exploited, most strikingly in the Triumphal Scene, with its stage forces, and in the diversity of its dance details, stylized and patterned though the choreography was.

Much had been expected of Miss Caniglia's debut, especially because of the almost ideal opportunities offered by the role of Aida for singing in the grand style. Miss Caniglia makes a believable Ethiopian princes in appearance, and her voice is one of exceptional power. But its power is not matched by persuasiveness of appeal, nor is it employed with artistry of interpretation, emotional eloquence or requisite control. To say that her singing of the "Ritorna vincitor" or the "O patria mia" effaced or surpassed treasonable past memories would be excessive as it would be untrue.


Feminine honors of the evening went to Miss Castagna for her excelling Amneris. Miss Castagna gave commanding interest to her role in the Metropolitan's "Norma" here last season, and made a vivid and vitally sung "Carmen" at Robin Hood Dell last summer. She was in excellent voice last night, and dominated the scenes in which she appeared.

Mr. Martinelli's Radames has long been familiar here. Last night he was as exuberant in his singing as in his acting as ever. Besides Mr. Tibbett's barbaric Amonasro, also a familiar figure in this city, the cast included John Gurney as the King, Giordano Paltrinieri as the Messenger, and Lucille Browning as the Priestess. Ettore Panizza conducted with authority, sometimes permitting his zeal to exceed his discretion.

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