[Met Performance] CID:128770
Faust {425} Matinee ed. Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas: 04/17/1940.

(Review)


Dallas, Texas
April 17, 1940 Matinee


FAUST {425}

Faust...................Richard Crooks
Marguerite..............Helen Jepson
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................Leonard Warren
Siebel..................Helen Olheim
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................Wilfred Engelman
Dance...................Lillian Moore
Dance...................George Chaffee

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

Review of Ruth Carlton in the Dallas Journal

Pinza Steals Show in "Faust;" Choral Work Is Outstanding Feature

Gounod's "Faust," the opera which holds the world's record for the most performances, was the bill at Fair Park auditorium Wednesday afternoon as the Metropolitan Opera company presented a colorful and enjoyable morality tale. Of course, the forces of the righteous never stand a chance - certainly not when Ezio Pinza is singing Mephistopheles. With both singing and acting he stole the show, from the time he appeared to the ancient and weary philosopher, Faust, until the final moment when he dragged that unlucky one off to hell. In his green and brown devil's costume with its spreading cape, which he whirls like a veteran, he completely fascinated us, whether he was singing the "Calf of Gold" or merely stalking around stealing the scene from another singer.

Crooks is Disappointing

Richard Crooks in the title role sang in the manner which has made him famous. He is a lyric tenor voice of mellow beauty but in this role he left much to be desired. He might be forgiven the extra poundage which the devil didn't see fit to remove in exchange for his soul, and maybe his acting (or lack of it) could be overlooked, but there is little excuse for the constant scooping with which he slides into every upper tone. The effect was not helped by the falsetto to which he resorted for many of the climaxes - particularly in the second act love music.

Helen Jepson wearing the traditional blond braids and blue dress was a lovely Marguerite. Particularly well done was "The King of Thule" ballad, sung with liquid purity of tone, and the entire prison scene was dramatically delivered, showing the exceptional quality to her top tones, although an occasional one was not perfectly focused. Because of several minor characters who disagreed with the orchestra as to pitch, the audience had become off-pitch-conscious early in the performance and tended to ignore much that was beautiful while watching for another blue note.

Choruses Very Well Done

Of course, a good part of this opera's popularity is due to the choruses, all of which were excellently handled Wednesday. The Kermesse scene with its lilting waltz and jolly ballet was colorful and lively. The "Soldier's Chorus" stopped the show, maybe because the audience was so happy to meet such a commonplace old friend in an opera. The softly intoned prayer following Valentin's death is one of the best pieces of writing in the entire opera and the chorus made the most of its solemn measures.

The effective handling of this group throughout should be credited to Desire Defrere. Fausto Cleva directed the chorus while the performance was conducted by Wilfred Pelletier.

Leonard Warren gave a creditable though not brilliant performance as Valentin. Wilfred Engelman sang Wagner, Helen Oelheim was Siebel and Thelma Votipka had the role of Marthe.



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