[Met Performance] CID:130520
Pelléas et Mélisande {36} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/13/1941.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 13, 1941


PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE {36}

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

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

Review of Robert Lawrence in the Herald Tribune

"Pelléas et Mélisande" Given at Metropolitan

Debussy's Opera Offered for Second Time This Season

A second performance of Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande" which had its artistic hills and valleys was offered last night at the Metropolitan Opera House. This was the second time during the season that the work had been presented, and the general features of last night did not differ greatly from those of a few weeks ago.

As before, the orchestra played on a floorboard which had been raised too high; and as a consequence the instruments often engulfed the singers. This is a matter which, if there are to be any more performance of "Pelléas," deserves immediate attention. The sense of remoteness that Debussy wished to evoke can too easily be shattered by an overwhelming sound from the orchestra pit.

In this writer's opinion, much of the criticism leveled against Erich Leinsdorf's reading of the score is really to be attributed to those bad acoustical conditions. The conductor might indeed have achieved more of an orchestral shimmer; and from the standpoint of emotional climax, he failed in the great rallentando just before the death of Pelléas. But Mr. Leinsdorf's understanding of this music has grown immeasurably since last season.

Raoul Jobin, looking like a medieval telegraph boy, sang well as Pelléas, but failed to create much of a mood. Helen Jepson was an undistinguished Mélisande, and the Golaud of John Brownlee, though well drawn, lacked the necessary volume and timbre of voice. The laurels of this performance fell to Alexander Kipnis who delivered Arkel's final monologue with poignancy of tone and gesture; Doris Doe, the Genevieve, whose singing was heard to fine advantage; and to Natalie Bodanya, a convincing Yniold. The scenery for this production is the most beautiful owned by the Metropolitan.



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