[Met Performance] CID:128030
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {166} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/16/1940.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 16, 1940


Figaro..................John Charles Thomas
Rosina..................Hilde Reggiani
Count Almaviva..........Armand Tokatyan
Dr. Bartolo.............Louis D'Angelo
Don Basilio.............Virgilio Lazzari
Berta...................Irra Petina
Fiorello................Wilfred Engelman
Sergeant................Giordano Paltrinieri

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

[In the Lesson Scene Reggiani sang Il Carnevale di Venezia (Benedict).]

Review of Noel Strauss in The New York Times


Rossini Opera Presented for Second Time This Season - Hilde Reggiani Sings

Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" was heard for the second time this season at the Metropolitan last night. This time with a cast headed by Hilde Reggiani as Rosina, Armand Tokatyan as Almaviva and John Charles Thomas, who made his initial appearance of the season, as Figaro. The performance, which was filled with slapstick comedy completely out of place in this exquisite work, amused the audience by its clowning, but moved without an atom of sparkle or vivacity.

Most of the vocalism put forth was inadequate as the type of histrionics employed. As for the score itself, it had been subjected to so many alterations and omissions in many of the numbers presented that much of the opera seemed like a travesty to those familiar with the music. The slashing of difficulties in order to make things easier for the singers began with the [beginning] tenor aria, "Ecco, ridenet" and continued ad lib. from then on. But even so most of the opera was poorly sung, being retrieved only by Mr. Thomas's efforts in song, among the principals.

Miss Reggiani, who made her debut recently with the company, was definitely miscast at this second appearance. Rosina being a part for which she had neither the glamorous quality of voice required nor a hint of the scintillating humor and gayety inherent in the role. Her singing of Benedict's "Carnival of Venice" variations, interpolated in the music-lesson scene, was a more credible endeavor that the preceding "Una voce poco fa." But in neither were the tones of real distinction in timbre, though used with considerable agility. The upper part of the scale was always edgy, and the lower tones often became inaudible, while insecurities of pitch were often in evidence. Evidently Rosina is not one of the artist's better vehicles, judging the greater success she achieved her when first heard as Gilda in "Rigoletto."

Mr. Thomas's singing was the most meritorious the evening had to offer, but his conception of the mercurial part is still too heavy-handed to become convincing. Virgillio Lazzari was not in vocal condition to make any headway with "La Calunnia," his chief opportunity, and although Mr. Tokatyan made a romantic-looking Count, he often has sung the music allotted to him to far greater advantage. Louis D'Angelo as Dr. Bartolo, Irra Petina as Berta, and Giordano Paltrinieri as the Official completed the cast. Gennaro Papi conducted.

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