[Met Performance] CID:124590
Don Giovanni {99} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/5/1939.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 5, 1939

Mozart-Da Ponte

Don Giovanni............Ezio Pinza
Donna Anna..............Elisabeth Rethberg
Don Ottavio.............Richard Crooks
Donna Elvira............Irene Jessner
Leporello...............Virgilio Lazzari
Zerlina.................Marita Farell
Masetto.................Louis D'Angelo
Commendatore............Norman Cordon

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

Director................Leopold Sachse
Designer................Joseph Urban

There were two performances of Don Giovanni this season.

Review of Noel Strauss in The New York Times

"Don Giovanni" is Heard

Perhaps the time is near at hand when operas like Mozart's "Don Giovanni," which received its first performance of the season at the Metropolitan last night, will no longer be heard for lack of artists able to sing them adequately. Such a fate was prophesized recently for works of the kind by a former member of the company who was a past master of the art of bel canto, and his warning that only a return to school of singing that produced a Pasta or a Patti could save much of the repertoire of the last two centuries from passing into oblivion came forcibly to mind as one listened to last night's endeavors.

The day already has arrived when it is no longer possible to find a cast capable of dealing with many of the important operas of the past, as, for instance, Rossini's "Semiramide," or Meyerbeer's "Huguenots." Whatever their merits or want of them, the only reason that these creations no longer grace the boards is the woeful inability of modern vocalists to meet their technical requirements and above all to bring to them a tithe of the pure tone that is the prime essential of every phrase of their music.

Except for an occasional passage voiced by Ezio Pinza in the name part and by Elisabeth Rethberg, who essayed Donna Anna for the first time here at this presentation, the sum total of beautiful tone produced in the Mozart masterpiece came dangerously near the zero mark. In the entire first act, with its five scenes, the one sustained bit of song worthy of the composer's score was vouchsafed by Miss Rethberg in the "Mask" trio.

Miss Rethberg found the proper outlet for her art in the lyric measures of this trio, rather than in the heavier moments of the role, which were given with dramatic intensity, but at the expense of vocal glamour. More than likely she was up to the mark in the "Letter" aria near the opera's close, but that came too near the end of the performance to be heard by this reviewer.

Mr. Pinza's Don remains in all matters of interpretation precisely what it was nine years ago when he first attempted the role in this city. It still is swashbuckling rather than dignified or aristocratic. He was not at the top of form last night with the result that the "Champagne" aria was taken too slowly for its good, though Ettore Panizza at the conductor's desk did his best to urge the tempo on. In fact, Mr. Panizza was to be complimented on the knowing efforts he put forth to make the best of a bad bargain all through the evening.

If not much can be said for the singing on this occasion, certain of the roles were capably aired , especially the Leporello of Virgilio Lazzari and Louis d'Angelo's Masetto, though both were a far cry from the sort of thing seen on the same boards in former days. The opera was again handsomely mounted.

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