[Met Performance] CID:128510
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {169} Lyric Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland: 03/25/1940.

(Review)


Baltimore, Maryland
Lyric Theatre
March 25, 1940


IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA {169}

Figaro..................John Charles Thomas
Rosina..................Bidú Sayao
Count Almaviva..........Nino Martini
Dr. Bartolo.............Louis D'Angelo
Don Basilio.............Ezio Pinza
Berta...................Irra Petina
Fiorello................Wilfred Engelman
Sergeant................Giordano Paltrinieri

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

[In the Lesson Scene Sayao sang Ah vous dirai-je maman from Le Toréador (Adam).]


Review signed W. W. in the Baltimore Sun

Barber of Seville

Rossini's carbonated "Barber of Seville" last night set Baltimore's opera season awhirl., though it must be said that the performance - at least, nearly all of the first half - extracted little of the juices from this score.

Bringing along everything in its fabulous caravan but the "great gold curtain" itself the Metropolitan Opera Company presented a distinguished array of stars and called forth for its local first-night an audience matching in brilliance its own Diamond Horseshoe.

Rossini's music was a happy choice. Not a grain of dust blurs this score. Gaily, it records the story of young love and good-natured conceit in melodies that tumble from the pages, and it is as new as when Rossini inked in his cadenzas.

Papi Directs

Genarro Papi directed the orchestra in a cleanly outlined but pedestrian performance, often overloading the volume at the expense of the singers.

The interpretation of the opera began to gain momentum near the end of the first act, and the finale of the first act came off with fine effect. The second act, which becomes as mad as a Weber-and-Fields vaudeville act and which contains much fine ensemble writing, moved with light pace.

Last night's cast was headed by John Charles Thomas, Nino Martini, and the lovely Brazilian, Bidu Sayao, but Ezio Pinza, singing the ridiculously lugubrious part of Don Basilio, stole the show.

Martini Leads Soloists

Mr. Martini, the first of the soloists to be heard, had not sufficiently warmed to do full justice to the [first] serenade, "Ecco Ridente," but his voice gained flexibility as the act progressed and had acquired a wine-warmth by the time he reached his second solo, "Se il Mio Nome Saper."

There is no denying this popular singer's lucid tone quality, his evenness of scale in all registers, and smoothness of delivery, but his is a voice with definite limits in both power and expression. Dramatically, also, he injected little vim into the part.

Mr. Thomas was welcomed with applause at the first sound of his voice even before he appeared on the stage, but his rendition of the "Largo al Factotum" failed to stimulate undue warmth from the audience. Indeed, he put little rattle into the breathless phrases, and the usually heady - even though well-worn - song seemed unwontedly tame. Mr. Thomas did some excellent singing during the evening, but was withal an unanimated Figaro.

When Bidu Sayao made her first entrance in the second scene of the first act to sing the famous aria, "Una Voce Poca Fa," one could not help wondering how the auburn-haired South American singer has eluded the greedy talons of the Hollywood talent scouts. Certainly the great tradition of Rosinas has not offered one more visually satisfying.

Vocally, Miss Sayao does not fit the role so aptly. She is at her best in the middle register. When called upon merely to touch the higher notes, Miss Sayao produced tones that were clear and bright, but when it was necessary to sustain them, the attractive singer showed effort and a flattening of pitch. She appeared to better advantage in the singing lesson of the second act, for which she chose the "Variations on a Theme of Mozart" by Adams. One would like to hear Miss Sayao in a more congenial role, for her voice is one of undoubted quality.

Basso Delights

From the moment of his entrance, Ezio Pinza, the distinguished basso, delighted the audience, both for his adroitly bizarre characterization and fully rounded vocalism. Looking like nothing so much as the personification of an ill-omen, swathed in black, with black, flowing cape, double-billed hat and red umbrella, the vultural Mr. Pinza sang the aria, "La calunia," with relish and full-bodied tones, winning enthusiastic applause and bravos - the only ones of the evening - from the audience.

Another vivid role was that of Berta, portrayed last night by Irra Petina in a manner that was something of a combination of Zasu Pitts and Edna May Oliver. Her aria, "Il Vechietta," was vigorously received. Louis d'Angelo gave a humorous portrayal and adequate vocalization of the part of Dr. Bartolo.



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