[Met Performance] CID:124630
Falstaff {57} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/7/1939.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 7, 1939


FALSTAFF {57}
Giuseppe Verdi--Arrigo Boito

Sir John Falstaff.......Lawrence Tibbett
Alice Ford..............Maria Caniglia
Ford....................John Brownlee
Dame Quickly............Bruna Castagna
Nannetta................Marisa Morel
Fenton..................Charles Kullman
Meg Page................Irra Petina
Dr. Cajus...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Bardolfo................Alessio De Paolis
Pistola.................Norman Cordon
Innkeeper...............Ludwig Burgstaller

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

Review of Carl E. Lindstrom in the Hartford Times

Tibbett Makes Of Falstaff Fine Characterization

Kullman, Caniglia and Brownlee in Gay, Refreshing Opera

New York - Lawrence Tibbett, who has the power to make any stage all his own has no one to dispute his possession of it in "Falstaff." When "Otello" was given at Bushnell Memorial in December there were many who had much to say of Tibbett but fewer words for Martinelli's powerful impersonation of the Moor and Maria Caniglia's Desdemona.

In Saturday night's "Falstaff" at the Metropolitan Caniglia was also there as Mistress Ford, an uncomplicated and incidental character part. Charles Kullman was the romantic and also incidental Fenton and John Brownlee was cast in the part which gave Tibbett his first great success - that of Ford.

All the honors went to Tibbett, however. From Falstaff's point of view, and the art of singing being what it is, the introduction of the "Star Spangled Banner" into the score would probably be appreciated for the relief it might afford the leading character to deliver a few bars standing up, since Falstaff probably set a new high record for seated singing. All the more difficult, too, because Tibbett's makeup goes to great realistic lengths in the matter of physical upholstery.

Tibbett's Falstaff was tremendously effective, a broadly drawn, moving, pathetic and withal sympathetic characterization. More artistic than his Iago, it will be remembered longer. The vocal opportunities were wider and they sometimes led him outside the field of singing. There was a time or two when he hollered, flatly - but it was a musical flat and a musical holler. There were parlando passages so expressive that it didn't matter whether you understand Italian or not. This Falstaff stays with you.

Two other characters deserved high praise for the cognate manner in which they fitted into this gay and refreshing picture. Marisa Morel, as Anne Ford, was as lithesome and deft a figure as has been seen in opera in some time; the part suited her and an engaging voice was completely released in the sunny measures allotted to her. Then there was Bruna Castagna who was considerable of a hit as Dame Quickly, a part utterly unlike anything she has ever done before.

John Brownlee appeared to be doing Ford in something of a Tibbett style but that helped rather than hurt his impersonation. Kullman was adequate but there were opportunities for him to be something more than that. Giordano Paltrinieri was Dr. Caius. Alessio de Paolis was Bardolph and Norman Cordon, an ungainly and effective Pistol. Irra Petina was Mistress Page and Ludwig Burgstaller had the non-singing part of the innkeeper. Stage direction was by Herbert Graf and Fausto Cleva the chorus master; the ballet in the last act, it should be added, made a delicately pictorial effect.

Ettore Panizza was heartily applauded before the last act for his inspiring direction of orchestra and ensemble.

A sort of Italian "Meistersinger," "Falstaff" is a beautifully staged opera and an excellent show.



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