[Met Performance] CID:13010
L'Africaine {14} Metropolitan Opera House: 04/23/1894.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
April 23, 1894
In Italian


L'AFRICAINE {14}

Sélika..................Lillian Nordica
Vasco de Gama...........Jean de Reszke
Inès....................Maria Pettigiani [Last performance]
Nélusko.................Jean Lassalle
Pedro...................Edouard de Reszke
Diégo...................Lodovico Viviani
Alvar...................N. Mastrobuono
Grand Inquisitor........Armand Castelmary
High Priest.............Antonio De Vaschetti
Anna....................Mathilde Bauermeister
Usher...................Antonio Rinaldini
Dance...................Miss Santori

Conductor...............Luigi Mancinelli

Unsigned review in The New York Times

"L'APRICAINE" AT THE OPERA.

Meyerbeer's Work Heard Last Night for the First Time This Season.

Meyerbeer's "L'Africaine" was performed at the Metropolitan Opera House last night for the first time this season. There is room for abundant speculation as to the reasons why the auditorium was not more crowded, though the house was by no means a poor one. But there have been so many unhappy attempts in the course of the winter's series of opera performances to explain the taste of the public that it may be wiser to drop this unprofitable topic. There seemed to be many reasons why the house should have been full, but it was not. That is a good, safe fact to stand upon; so we may let it go at that.

The production of the opera was in every way creditable to the managers. The scenery, while it was not new, was suitable and well arranged. The pageantry introduced a large number of persons clad in many varieties of costume, which may have been correct or may not. As no one, not even the librettists, was ever quite certain where the action of "L'Africaine" took place after it moved out of Europe, no one can assert that any costume noted in the scene of "Il Paradiso!" was out of place. The stage looked brilliant and barbaric, and that was enough.

The performance was instructive inasmuch as it showed how admirably several artists of high rank could sing when out of voice. Not one voice on the stage was in perfect condition, except that of Edouard de Reszke, which, at times, was positively overwhelming in its magnificent volume of tone. The stalwart basso looked like a giant and sang like one. His brother, Jean de Reszke, was far from being in perfect voice, but his admirable art disguised the fact, except in certain piano passages, where disguise was impossible. The popular tenor looks a picture as Vasco de Gama, and the character is one that is histrionically well suited to his manly grace and romantic fervor. It must be admitted that he has sung the music with more brilliancy when his voice has been in better condition, but he has never treated the declamatory passages with more eloquence than he did last night. M. de Reszke is a great artist, and no matter what may be the condition of his voice, he does his work beautifully.

M. Lasalle was also in poor voice, and this, indeed, was a great pity, for Nelusko is one of his best parts. He looked remarkably handsome last night and acted with fine spirit. In spite of the condition of his voice, a great deal of his singing was wholly admirable, particularly the single stanza which he gave of the song about the ship. Mme. Nordica was a satisfactory Selika. There is less room in this part for the display of great dramatic singing than in "Aida," but the soprano made the best of her opportunities, and won much hearty applause. Mlle. Pettigiani sang Ines neatly, though her voice lacked sonority. The chorus and orchestra did their work acceptably, and Signor Mancinelli conducted, as usual, with skill.



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