[Met Performance] CID:124330
Mignon {75} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 12/17/1938., Broadcast

(Broadcast
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 17, 1938 Matinee Broadcast


MIGNON {75}
Am. Thomas-Carré/Barbier

Mignon..................Risë Stevens
Wilhelm Meister.........Richard Crooks
Philine.................Josephine Antoine
Lothario................Ezio Pinza
Frédéric................Helen Olheim
Laërte..................Alessio De Paolis
Jarno...................John Gurney
Antonio.................John Gurney
Dance...................Ruth Chanova

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

Director................Désiré Defrère
Designer................Serge Soudeikine
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Mignon received three performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in the Sun

MIGNON IS SUNG BY RÏSE STEVENS

American Contralto Has Metropolitan Debut.

Add Rïse Stevens to the ever-lengthening roll of first rate American opera singers. In her debut as Mignon at the Metropolitan on Saturday was much to indicate that, with normal experience and artistic growth, she will have a real contribution to make to the lyric theater of these times. A beautiful and well cultivated contralto voice is her first asset. But she went beyond routine good singing of "Connais-tu le pays," the so-called "Styrienne," "Elle est aimee" and Mignon's part in the various duets and ensembles. About this Mignon was an illusion and an appeal to place it justly beside the cherished Mignons of Lucrezia Bori and Geraldine Farrar.

Miss Stevens, a New Yorker who has sung in opera in Prague, Vienna and Buenos Aires, is young and of attractive presence. It was something to see her run across the stage; there was much charm in the youthful way Mignon buried her head on the chest of the old Lothario or the not-so-old Wilhelm Meister. Best of all, she was free of pose. Her simplicity rang true. Mignon, for her, was a rather more emotional personage than some of her predecessors at the Metropolitan have portrayed her. The music of Ambroise Thomas has less of intensity than she brought to it. But she did not go too far. Mignon remained a figure of pathos rather than of tragedy.

The first, and perhaps most important, thing to be noted about the voice was the evenness of the scale. Here was an operatic contralto who did not indulge in the baritonal chest beloved by some listeners, abhorred by others. From top to bottom of the compass the tone was of essentially the same timbre. It was warm, affectionate, full of color. In volume it was ample, if certainly not remarkable. Not yet an heroic voice, it gives promise of becoming one adequate for Wagnerian parts. Today, for the sake of its fine quality, it should be protected against over-stress. Miss Stevens is at present a singer for lyric roles.

Of her companions on Saturday afternoon, Richard Crooks and Ezio Pinza also transcended routine, the former by reason of his poised and expressive singing of "Adieu, Mignon, courage" and "Elle ne Croyait pas"; the latter by an impersonation of Lothario that was distinguished in bearing and acting as well as song. Others concerned were Josephine Antoine, a Philine of vocal competence if no great sparkle; Helen Oelheim, a likeable Frederic; Alessio de Paolis, an easygoing Laertes, and John Gurney, who doubled as Jarno and Antonio. Wilfrid Pelletier conducted.



Photograph of Rïse Stevens as Mignon by The New York Times Studio.



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