[Met Performance] CID:128600
La Gioconda {141} Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/2/1940.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
April 2, 1940


LA GIOCONDA {141}

La Gioconda.............Zinka Milanov
Enzo....................Giovanni Martinelli
Laura...................Bruna Castagna
Barnaba.................Leonard Warren
Alvise..................Nicola Moscona
La Cieca................Anna Kaskas
Zune...................Wilfred Engelman
Ispo...................Giordano Paltrinieri
Monk....................Louis D'Angelo
Steersman...............Carlo Coscia
Singer..................Wilfred Engelman
Singer..................Giordano Paltrinieri
Dance...................Rita Holzer
Dance...................Sari Montague
Dance...................Rosa Rolland
Dance...................Mary Sigler
Dance...................Ruthanna Boris
Dance...................George Chaffee
Dance...................Grant Mouradoff

Conductor...............Ettore Panizza

Review signed E. B. S. in the Boston Evening Transcript

The Opera

Met Does 'Gioconda" At the Opera House

It was an uneven performance which the Metropolitan Opera Company gave of "La Gioconda" at the Boston Opera House last night. Some of the singing was very good, some of it second rate. Some of the performers were at their best in one act, notably off form in another, and the acting, too, had its good and bad moments.

The first act got away to a slow start. Ettore Panizza, who conducted, permitting it to drag along unpardonably while the singers warmed up. There was one exception to the generally dilatory action. Leonard Warren, who sang Barnaba, the spy of the Inquisition, plunged into his part. He has a flexible baritone voice, which he employed to excellent advantage, and, what distinguished him from practically every one else on the stage, he displayed a genuine ability to act. In his role as diabolical plotter, he was quite satisfactorily sinister, and very much at his ease in the exacting requirements of musical villainy.

Giovanni Martinelli, who took the part of Enzo, must be one of the few remaining exponents of the traditional Italian style of acting, the set gesture, the measured histrionics of the La Scala school. Within the tradition he gave the fine performance that his many friends in the audience clearly expected. His voice, still a great tenor, showed signs of wear in his second act aria, "Cielo e Mar."

The feminine voices in particular were slow in attaining their full quality. One would hardly have recognized the warm emotional Gioconda of Zinka Milanov in the last act as the same voice that was so lacking in depth of feeling during the first. By the time she had reached the "Suicidio" aria of the twi-lit closing scene, her intense soprano was making even stereotyped Victorian passion seem credible. Bruna Castagna, as Laura, gave a more even performance, but she, too, gained in depth as the evening progressed. Both singers, of course, made their dramatic effects with their voices, not with any subtlety of acting.

Anna Kaskas, who was blind La Cieca, was sufficiently pathetic in her first act aria; she had difficulty keeping her tone above Mr. Panizza's too-insistent orchestra. Nicola Moscona sang Alvise, the enraged husband, with a good basso's vigor.

The ballet music in "La Gioconda" is, or course, the thrice familiar "Dance of the Hours," which brightens the second scene of Act 3. These hours passed along a somewhat leaden-footed way until the appearance, as the ballet neared its end, of the three principal dancers, Ruthanna Boris, Grant Mouradoff, and George Chaffee. They were sufficiently lithesome to bring alive what had been a rather inept march of time.



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