[Met Performance] CID:130950
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {170} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/19/1941.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 19, 1941


Figaro..................John Charles Thomas
Rosina..................Josephine Tuminia
Count Almaviva..........Bruno Landi
Dr. Bartolo.............Salvatore Baccaloni
Don Basilio.............Ezio Pinza
Berta...................Irra Petina
Fiorello................Wilfred Engelman
Sergeant................John Dudley

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

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

[In the Lesson Scene Tuminia sang Deh torna mio bene (Proch).]

Il Barbiere di Siviglia received five performances this season.

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


Salvatore Baccaloni Appears for the First Time Here in the Role of Bartolo


Miss Josephine Tuminia heard as New Rosina - Thomas Sings Figaro Part

Rossini's "Barber of Seville" was given a joyous and brilliant performance in low comedy vein last night in the Metropolitan Opera House and an immense audience was delighted by the singing and the show.

Salvatore Baccaloni, who has rejoiced the risibilities and the understanding of his audiences by his consummate art as singer and comedian, appeared for the first time here as Bartolo in this opera and the foregone conclusion came to pass. He was a constant delight, and a most finished and unforgettable interpreter. His second act was even better than his first, perhaps because Mr. Baccaloni, being an artist of exceptional taste and sensibility, may well have found it difficult to adjust his more pointed wit and style to the slapstick antics going on about him and the large scale burlesque which represents the key in which this opera is pitched when it is given in this lyric theatre.

Singer Praised for Art

As it may be that Mr. Baccaloni's wonderfully proportioned art and his wit, which is such that he never has to overreach himself or depart from the most legitimate and comical effects of gesture, intonation, facial play and vocal nuance, had its salutary effect on the whole spectacle. For this was as a whole a more conservative and coordinated "Barber" than some we have seen on this stage, when it appeared that the only thing left undone was the hurling of custard pieces.

The excuse for the broad caricature on the Metropolitan stage is the bigness of the theatre in which, it is alleged, the finer strokes of characterization would never be seen. We should like to see it attempted. There was nothing done by Mr. Baccaloni which failed to make its mark, and he could have told the whole story by silent pantomime alone, as he could have accomplished the same thing by his song and his diction, divorced from any spectacle. A master, and no mistake; surrounded last night by an exceptionally able cast.

Miss Tuminia Has Finesse

Miss Josephine Tuminia was a new Rosina. She too had finesse, a clean bravura, fine musicianship and intelligence too boot. A brilliant technician, she is also a thoughtful artist. The voice is not a large one, nor has it much sensuous charm, but in point of finished virtuosity, with particular brilliancy of trills and staccati, at the same time with complete ability to carry a melodic line, Miss Tuminia is an artist to reckon with.

The other principals are well known in the parts they took. Mr. Thomas's Figaro has become more supple and amusing in the seasons which have intervened since he first took the role at the Metropolitan Of the beauty of his voice and his skill as a singer there is little need to particularize today. Mr. Pinza's singing of the Basilio music is an old story, but not a dull one. His superb voice never sounded better than last night. He might appropriately have sung the "Calumnia" aria to Dr. Bartolo, with whom Basilio was plotting, rather than to the audience. Here he was exaggerated and obtrusive. In the scene of the second act, the "buona sera" passage, he was far better, funnier and more in key.

Landi Sings Almaviva

Bruno Landi, who made his first appearance with the Metropolitan in the season '37-'38, returned again to sing as Almaviva and showed that he has developed in the interval. His makeup did not justify Dr. Bartolo's indignant "Mr. Whiskers" in the scene with the alleged captain, but he has a smooth and properly lyrical style, good stage business and a pretty mezza voce. Again Miss Petina stopped the show, toward the end, by her singing of the Russian ditty which Rossini incorporated in his score.

And not only this: the orchestra played with excellent spirit and technical brilliancy. The comedy moved joyously and on light feet, thanks to the tempi and general treatment, even though it was over-freighted here and there with burlesque that was not mercurial and that was ponderous by the side of the score. The audience was delighted. There were plaudits and curtain calls for the interpreters. Consciously or unconsciously, these plaudits were also for Rossini's genius.

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