[Met Performance] CID:130220
Pelléas et Mélisande {35} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/20/1940.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 20, 1940


PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE {35}
Debussy-Maeterlinck

Pelléas.................Raoul Jobin
Mélisande...............Helen Jepson
Golaud..................John Brownlee
Arkel...................Alexander Kipnis
Geneviève...............Doris Doe
Yniold..................Natalie Bodanya
Physician...............Nicola Moscona

Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Gretel Urban

Pelléas et Mélisande received two performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America

When Debussy's "Pelléas and Mélisande" returned on the evening of Dec. 20, it was to be noted that the raised inner platforms for most of the scenes had been left in the store loft. The action thus took place on the regular stage floor, without the usual comings and goings by means of steps at either end of the platforms. This was a change that made for a more comfortable feeling on the part of the onlookers as well as the stage personages. Of more consequence, however, was the further "exteriorization" that has been a bone of contention among Metropolitan habitués. Never has "Pélleas" been so downright operatic.

With the exception of Mr. Jobin, the principals were those of the revival last season. For some reason they seemed to feel called upon to give much of vocalized tone to their parts as could be made to fit Debussy's undulous and conversational phraseology. Mr. Jobin, pleasantly remembered from his des Grieux in Massenet's "Manon" last season, might have been singing Massenet's music in parts of the tower scene and the two fountain episodes. If Mr. Brownlee could have communicated some suggestion of Golaud's "iron," his would have been the portrait most nearly in the frame. Miss Doe's "reading" of the letter was acceptable: so, too, the acting of Miss Bodanya. There was more that was painstaking than illusory in Miss Jepson's Mélisande, and a kind of melodramatic intensity not beneficial to the part in Mr. Kipnis's Arkel.

Mr. Leinsdorf presided over an orchestra in a pit raised so high that the players could readily be seen. This, of itself, tended to increase the volume of instrumental sound. But he was far from content with a merely acoustical access. His scale of dynamics was one that embraced unheard-of fortes and stresses. This was almost a Wagnerian "Pélleas," not only in its increased volume, but in a persistent effort on the part of the conductor to find and delineate a melos or to bring out sharply and distinctly the motives more or less hidden in the orchestral fabric, thus converting what have been called "sound wraiths" into emphatic representative themes.



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