[Met Performance] CID:125020
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {161} The Mosque, Newark, New Jersey: 02/7/1939.


Newark, New Jersey
February 7, 1939


Figaro..................John Charles Thomas
Rosina..................Bidú Sayao
Count Almaviva..........Nino Martini
Dr. Bartolo.............Virgilio Lazzari
Don Basilio.............Ezio Pinza
Berta...................Irra Petina
Fiorello................Wilfred Engelman
Sergeant................Wilfred Engelman

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Review of Charles Haufler in the Newark Evening News

"Barber of Seville"

Rossini's Comic Opera Given Sparkling Performance at Mosque by Met Singers

Presentation of opera here registered a new high last night with the performance of "The Barber of Seville" at the Mosque by the forces of the Metropolitan under auspices of the Griffith Music Foundation. The lively and witty Rossini masterpiece was staged in a sparkling manner and an audience including several hundred standees responded wholeheartedly.

The offering was in the nature of a novelty for Newarkers, who have been more used to serious lyric dramas, but that did not account for the enjoyment manifested. The vocal feats and comical developments with which the opera abounds were so effectively projected that ovation after ovation and peals of laughter rose from the vast gathering.

The Met sent a first rate company to Newark and the disappointment that doubtless was felt at the inability of Lily Pons to appear must have been for the most part dispelled by the portrayal of Rosina by Bidu Sayao, young Brazilian soprano, who captivated the audience. Then the last minute addition of John Charles Thomas, who substituted for the indisposed Richard Bonelli, in the title role, helped tremendously.


In its romantic phase the performance might be called streamlined. You could hardly wish for a more ingratiating pair of lovers than were played by Miss Sayao and Nino Martini. Miss Sayao who was heard in a concert in East Orange last season, was unusually youthful and pretty as the Spanish maid and acted the part with surprising appeal. The tenors's grace and good looks also counted.

On its comic side the presentation was even more effective. As partners in foolery the robust Thomas had the deep-voiced Ezio Pinza as Don Basilio, Virgilio Lazzari as the bewildered Bartolo, and Irra Petina as Berta. They almost rollicked in their parts, playing the comedy for all it was worth. It may have been overemphasized, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Vocally the performance was for the most part highly satisfactory. Miss Sayao's tones, while perhaps not the most vital nor the most amazingly executed, had a sweetness and naturalness very pleasant to hear and were floated with an even ease. She received enthusiastic applause for her singing of the brilliant "Una voce poco fa," one of the most trying of vocal tests. And she scored again in the singing lesson scene with another florid hit, Adam's "Variations on a Theme by Mozart."

New to Role

Martini, new this season to the role of Almaviva, gave a pleasing performance while not impressing as an ideal choice for the vocal aspects of the role. His singing of the "Ecco ridente" and second serenade in the first act was beautifully lyric, but of inadequate ardor. As the pseudo-music teacher in the second act he added his share to the humor in the action.

Greeted by applause in his first entrance, Thomas proceeded to deliver the famous "Largo al factotum" excerpt with a glibness and that brought forth a storm of applause. It was recalled that the baritone was learning the role of the busybody Figaro only the summer before last and sang the "Largo" for the first time on any stage at a concert by the Essex County Symphony Society in City Stadium.

Pinza was unusually well-liked. His portrayal of Basilio was rich in fun and the effectiveness with which he raised the Calumny air to a climax was one of the high sports of the evening. Lazzari's performance of the doctor was likewise enjoyable and one of the main props to the success of the performance. He and Miss Sayao were a delight in their quarrel scene. Miss Petina's maid was an amusing impersonation. Gennaro Papi conducted.

The occasion marked the close of the first year of activity of the Foundation.

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