[Met Performance] CID:127020
Orfeo ed Euridice {45} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/29/1939.

(Debut: Annamary Dickey
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 29, 1939


ORFEO ED EURIDICE {45}
C. W. Gluck-Calzabigi

Orfeo...................Kerstin Thorborg
Euridice................Irene Jessner
Amore...................Marita Farell
Happy Shade.............Annamary Dickey [Debut]
Dance...................Doris Neal
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Grant Mouradoff

Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf

Director................Herbert Graf
Set designer............Harry Horner
Costume designer........Frank Bevan
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

[Mozart's Trauermusik was performed before the Elysian Fields scene in memory of Artur Bodanzky, who died on November 23.]

Orfeo ed Euridice received four performances this season.


Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America of 12/10/39:

Gluck's noble 'Orfeo,' the second opera of the new season, was given on the evening of Nov. 29. Erich Leinsdorf conducted and Herbert Graf had charge of the stage. The choreography for the ballets was that of Boris Romanoff. Scenically and otherwise the production was that of last year's revival of the work that has the distinction of being the oldest in the Metropolitan repertoire.

The late Artur Bodanzky, who prepared the revival and conducted the performances of 1938-39, was honored in the interval between the second and third acts, the audience standing while Mr. Leinsdorf led the orchestra in the playing of Mozart's masonic `Trauermusik', composed in 1785 for the funeral of two of Mozart's lodge associates.

Mme. Thorborg bore the vocal burdens and bore them well. Her singing was smooth and expressive and she again made a creditable appearance as a man, though some details of her impersonation seemed less masculine in their suggestion than they were a year ago. The debut of Miss Dickey, one of the recent winners in the Metropolitan's air auditions, was pleasantly accomplished, without there being anything in her pretty singing and acceptable stage deportment to give a clear indication of what her place in the company may be. Miss Jessner and Miss Farell, the latter shifting to the role of Amore (last season she sang The Happy Shade) made their lesser contributions in conformity with the general tone of the performance, which was musically that of adequacy rather than distinction.

Mr. Leinsdorf, taking over duties that Mr. Bodanzky had been expected to resume, had a firm grip on all the elements of the performances, principals, chorus and orchestra. The players in the pit were re-seated, but without materially altering sonorities or balance. Clarity and warmth characterized the playing, though it was not letter-perfect in its details. Tempi were often on the fast side. This was especially true of 'Che faro'.

However, it is the pictorial aspect of `Orfeo' that most claims the attention in this production. Mr. Graf has not elsewhere in any other New York production approached the stagecraft of his treatment of the first and second acts - the scene of the mourners at the tomb of Euridice and the scene at the gates of Hades. The latter, in particular, remains one of the Metropolitan's most striking achievements. But the scene of the Elysian fields is frigidly disappointing. Matters are not helped by Mr. Romanoff's dance convolutions which contrive quite generally to violate the line of Gluck's music. For all its beauty - perhaps because of it - `Orfeo' does not attract the standees. It lacks high notes - there isn't even a tenor, or for that matter, a bonafide male in the cast - and it is not 'hot i' the 'mouth'. Under the circumstances the fastidious can only console themselves with the thought that it remains a masterpiece.



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