[Met Performance] CID:127450
Faust {420} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/2/1940.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 2, 1940


FAUST {420}

Faust...................Jussi Björling
Marguerite..............Helen Jepson
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................John Brownlee
Siebel..................Lucielle Browning
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................Wilfred Engelman
Dance...................Lillian Moore
Dance...................George Chaffee

Conductor...............Wilfred Pelletier

Review of Henry Pleasants in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

Helen Jepson and Jussi Bjoerling Heard in Metropolitan "Faust"

Time was when "Faust" was so popular an item in the Metropolitan Opera Company's repertoire that the Metropolitan Opera House was affectionately known as "Faustspielhaus." Those days are unhappily a thing of the past. It has been a long time since the company has been able to muster a cast of sufficient brilliance to make a performance of "Faust" tolerable.

The Metropolitan brought the Gounod opera to the Academy of Music last night for the first time in many seasons. The cast was a brand new one to Philadelphia. Helen Jepson was Marguerite; Ezio Pinza the Mephistopheles; Jussi Bjoerling the Faust and John Brownlee the Valentin. It may be recorded as a sign of improving vocal standards of the time that it was a better cast than the company could have assembled two or three years ago.

Miss Jepson is an alumna of the Curtis Institute and used to sing on occasion with the local companies. It has been five or six years, however, since she last sang here. Her Marguerite was pretty in person and voice, but save for a sudden flash of animation in the last act, it was seldom much more than that. There was a certain listless quality about a good deal of her singing and her voice lacked variety of color. The Jewel Song was a rather tentative expression of girlish rapture.

Mr. Bjoerling is the gifted young Swedish tenor who made his recital debut here last season. He had not appeared in these parts previously in opera. The impression he made as a recitalist was not materially changed. He has a fine clear voice and an accurate sense of pitch. He phrases correctly and in good taste, but not very expressively. It may follow that when he has learned what he has yet to learn about acting he will also have added to his stature as an interpretive artist.

Mr. Pinza is, of course, a frequent and greatly admired visitor. His Mephistopheles had the easy command of vocal and stage technique that one expects from this Italian basso, although it hardly had the same command of the French style. Mr. Brownlee's Valentin was vocally too light, but it had the sincerity and thoroughness and reliability that the Australian brings to everything he does. The smaller roles of Wagner, Siebel and Marthe were taken by Wilfred Engelman, Lucielle Browning and Thelma Votipka, respectively. Wilfred Pelletier conducted.



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