[Met Performance] CID:125810
La Bohème {337} Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas: 04/12/1939.

(Review)


Dallas, Texas
April 12, 1939

Carmen: Act IV Prelude

Act IV Dances

Monna Montes
Maria Gambarelli
Grant Mouradoff

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff


LA BOHÈME {337}

Mimì....................Grace Moore
Rodolfo.................Charles Kullman
Musetta.................Natalie Bodanya
Marcello................John Brownlee
Schaunard...............George Cehanovsky
Colline.................Ezio Pinza
Benoit..................Louis D'Angelo
Alcindoro...............Louis D'Angelo
Parpignol...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Sergeant................Carlo Coscia

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

Review of John Rosenfield in the Dallas Morning News

Sparkling "La Bohème"

Grace Moore Returns as Mimi

A "La Bohème" of sparkle, spirit and much good singing closed the eventful opera season Wednesday night to the largest audience in local operatic history and one which also accounted for a new record box-office intake.

Accustomed to the traditional antics of the Mugger-Ilica-Giacosa-Puccini Latin Quarter, the spectators were impressed by the reformed stage business arranged by Desire Defrere. The free-for-all diodes, in which "La Bohème" singers often were carried away by the exuberance of playful operatic temperaments to the distraction of the music, was cunningly modified and timed. Never before have we seen the action of the first act love duet so skillfully coordinated with the "holds." The quartet of Bohemians infected the stage with fun minus excessive scampering about. The carnival chaos of the Café Momus scene also had a semblance of order and mob rule, with the choral crowd giving way when necessary to the principals whose serio-comedy must weave in and out of spectacle.

The young American, Charles Kullman, sang a manly, lyric Rodolfo and wisely refrained from stretching his otherwise free-flowing top tones in the optional high tessitura of the first act music. The Raconto, "Che gelida Manina," one of the loveliest of operatic sentimentalities, was ardent without losing form.

Grace Moore, the Manon of Monday night, returned as Mimi and to be one of the daintiest prima donnas ever seen in the role. Mimi was no tax on Miss Moore's dramatic powers and certainly no strain on her natural endowment of beauty, charm and piquancy. Her bedroom key was not the only key lost in the first act but recovery was swift and her autobiographic aria, "Mi chiamano Mimi,"
was deeply affecting. Likewise the pathetic "Addio" of the third act and the death-bed song. Not the most careful of singers, Miss Moore nevertheless is an eminently satisfying operatic artist within her histrionic range. There are presence, fire and a gift of tonal coloring that bring eloquence to almost every mood.

Brownlee Again Pleases

John Brownlee's Marcello was a sharp etching to go with the Lescaut of Monday night. This time he was ebullient, short-tempered, sympathetic and compassionate, almost as much as the hero of the opera as Rodolfo. His two appearances here have stamped the baritone as one of the day's best singing actors.

Ezio Pinza lifted the small part of Colline to his towing artistic stature and gave the audience a vocal treat with his Farewell to a Coat. Never has a garment departed more tragically for the pawn shop. The excellent George Cehanovsky raised Schaunard to a position of importance in the artist's garret.

Natalie Bodanya was a vixenish Musetta and extended her agreeable little voice to surprising accomplishments in the Waltz song. Louis D'Angelo doubled as Benoit and Alcindoro, getting the fun out of both.

Gennaro Papi, Metropolitan maestro of many seasons, accompanied considerably, letting the singers take the lead.

In a Mood For Fluff

This had been a strenuous and intensive operatic season, with most of the audience veterans of two or more performances. Puccini's frolicsome opera was as heavy as anybody wanted, a fortuitous dessert to a lavish meal.

Puccini was no great innovator, but his mastery of craft influenced operatic development no less than it insured his prosperity. The Italian lyric genius was preserved while the orchestra assumed symphonic richness. Not even the Verdi orchestra of "Otello" attained the sonority of the "La Bohème" instrumentation. The old sonata-form aria and the well-made ensemble were dropped for vocal writing more definitely in the flux of the plot. But "La Bohème" for all the tightened dramatic action and orchestral tone painting, remains a singing piece. A score with the Racanto, Mimi's three songs, Musetta's Waltz, the Rodolfo-Marcello last-act duet and the artful quartet contrasting the comic fracas of Marcello and Musetta with the unison heart-throbs of Mimi and Rodolfo, belong to the vocal world.



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