[Met Performance] CID:128000
La Bohème {343} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/13/1940.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 13, 1940


LA BOHÈME {343}

Mimì....................Bidú Sayao
Rodolfo.................Charles Kullman
Musetta.................Annamary Dickey
Marcello................Giuseppe De Luca
Schaunard...............George Cehanovsky
Colline.................Virgilio Lazzari
Benoit..................Louis D'Angelo
Alcindoro...............Louis D'Angelo
Parpignol...............Lodovico Oliviero
Sergeant................Carlo Coscia

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

Review of Edwin H. Schloss in the Philadelphia Record

Bidú Sayäo Captivates in 'La Bohème'

As everyone knows by now, "La Bohème" has long since settled down in the repertoire as an endearing, if slightly shop-worn staple of the operatic trade, generally offered in routine obeisance to the cash register or as a display vehicle for this Mimi, that Rodolfo, yonder Musetta and Marcello, or what have you.

However, last night's production by the Metropolitan Opera Association cannot be classified in that formula. It was not a brilliantly sung "Bohème. Neither was it pushed across the counter like a pound of operatic sugar cast in familiar mold.

Fresh and Charming

It was rather an unusually well rounded performance, sound if not scintilant in wind and limb as far as the singing was concerned, and unusually fresh and charming in its dramatic aspects. Rarely have the starving Bohemians of Puccini's first act capered about as convincingly as they did last night; rarely has the gaiety at the Café Momus seemed so genuinely sprightly and rarely has Mimi expired in Act IV with such touching conviction - rigor mortis setting in after her demise instead of, as with some Mimis, two acts before.

The credit for all this conviction of love, life, death and laughter must be distributed pretty evenly to last night's cast with major mention, of course, going to Bidù Sayäo, the Met's charming Brazilian soprano who was the Mimi of the evening. Miss Sayäo is, dramatically, one of the most effective Mimis ever seen in the Academy - a South American ambassador of culture with whom it would be no hardship to be on good-neighborly terms.

An Excellent Voice

Miss Sayäo's voice is not too large, but of excellent quality and the attractive femininity of her stage presence carries her a long way. Her singing, too, has charm and intelligence.

She was hailed last night by an audience of such hair-trigger enthusiasm, that it exploded into cheers to interrupt her before the close of "Mi chiamano Mimi." Charles Kullman, the Rodolfo, was also a storm center of applause though his admirers waited till the end of the "Racconto."

Annamary Dickey was a proud and imperious Musetta, also a very handsome one, and scored heavily with the famous "Quando me 'n vo soiletio" of the Café scene. Giuseppe De Luca, back in the Metropolitan fold after five years' absence was a reliable and effective Marcello.

Had a Good Time

Virgillio Lazzari as Colline, and George Cehanovsky as the fourth Bohemian acted and sang as if they were really having as good a time as their audience. Louis D'Angelo did his usual fine bit doubling as the landlord and Musetta's elderly lover, and Carlo Coscia was the sergeant. Gennaro Papi conducted. And perhaps a closing bow is due Stage Director Desire Defrere for one of the smoothest, most sprightly and soundly dramatic "Bohème"s of a decade.



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