[Met Performance] CID:131760
Le Nozze di Figaro {69} Richmond Mosque, Richmond, Virginia: 05/2/1941.


Richmond, Virginia
May 2, 1941


Figaro..................Ezio Pinza
Susanna.................Licia Albanese
Count Almaviva..........John Brownlee
Countess Almaviva.......Elisabeth Rethberg
Cherubino...............Jarmila Novotna
Dr. Bartolo.............Salvatore Baccaloni
Marcellina..............Irra Petina
Don Basilio.............Alessio De Paolis
Antonio.................Louis D'Angelo
Barbarina...............Annamary Dickey
Don Curzio..............George Rasely
Peasant.................Helen Olheim
Peasant.................Maxine Stellman
Dance...................Lillian Moore
Dance...................Julia Barashkova
Dance...................Josef Levinoff [Last performance]
Dance...................Paul Sweeney [Last performance]

Conductor...............Ettore Panizza

Review of Helen de Motte in the Richmond News Leader

"Met" Scores Big Triumph In "Figaro"

Notable Cast of Mozart Singers Heard

After hearing a nineteenth century opera on Thursday evening, one might have expected a complete lapse from contemporary interest in the presentation last night, at the Mosque, of Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" by the Metropolitan Opera Company. However, one became more than ever amazed at the thoroughly contemporary interest with which the fine cast invested this opera, which literally flowed from the pen of the youthful Mozart two centuries ago, for, incredibly, it was composed in one month, at the command of Emperor Joseph II of Austria.

The story is more than a little complicated, but is a sequel to that of the "Barber of Seville," which Rossini set to music, both being derived from "Figaro" comedies by Beaumarchais. In Rossini's opera Figaro is the mainspring of action. In Mozart's opera, it is Susana, around whose efforts to nip in the bud the intrigues in which the Count wishes to engage her, the whole action revolves. No opera composed before this one exceeds it for the development of ensemble, charm, melodic beauty, richness and variety of orchestration. Nor has the combination of high comedy and the deeper and more tender sentiment of affection ever been more perfectly caught up into melody than by this warm-hearted, laughter-loving composer who went to a pauper's grave at the age of 35.

The Metropolitan has given it a magnificent production and has assembled such a cast of Mozart singers as it would be difficult to find anywhere else in the world today, even were the world not what it is at the moment.

Ezio Pinza, heard here previously in recital, brought all the power and finesse of his art as a singing actor endowed with one of the great voices of our time, to the role of Figaro. He is a genuine and delightful comedian, nothing more delicious than his exclamation when he discovers Susanna under her disguise could be imagined. It was so youthful, so joyous, so mischievous that the house simply capitulated anew to him. His singing of "Se vuol ballare, Signor Contino" was gorgeous, as was the aria in the last act. Notwithstanding Mr. Pinza's great singing in recital, one must see him in opera to realize the manifold qualities of his gifts. Playing opposite him was Licia Albanese as Susanna, whose sweetness, delicate relish of every moment of comedy, grace and lightness of mood and of vocal embellishment of the role was enchanting. Elisabeth Rethberg, who has not been heard here in many years, was the Countess. Her ripe artistry, full and powerful voice giving both authority and rich texture to the music allotted to her, and especially in the fine ensemble. Wavering slightly from pitch in her [first] phrases of the aria "Porgi Amor," with this slight exception sang gloriously. Nothing could have been more exquisite than the letter duet between the Countess and Susanna in the third act.

John Brownlee was a capable and vocally fine Count, receiving quite an ovation for his aria in the third act. The Cherubino was a newcomer to the company, Jarmila Novotna, one of the most personable Cherubinos it has ever presented.

Tall, handsome, graceful, Miss Novotna has a voice of unusual quality which she uses with skill and taste. It is not a beautiful voice, not is it beautifully produced, but she uses it so well that it seems to be better than it is - which, after all, is one of the achievements of any artist. The other parts are only contributory to the general scheme of things, but each of them was so perfectly conceived, so richly embellished, so delightfully sung and acted that each deserves analytical appreciation, which both time and space forbid. Irra Petina and Salvatore Baccaloni could not have been excelled as Marcellina and Bartolo. Annamarry Dickey had a delightful bit as Barbarina and Louis D'Angelo, Alessio de Paolis and George Rasley made brief but competent contributions to the ensemble.

The settings were rich and imaginative, the end of the third act being spectacular, even with its ballet and the huge chorus on the winding stairway, while the garden scene was both picturesque and strikingly effective, the lighting throughout being unusually lovely.

The costumes were colorful and becoming, both as to the principals and chorus. Again Gennaro Papi conducted with skill and complete mastery. Not until the Metropolitan comes again shall we be satisfied to hear opera in Richmond. No more second-line companies for us. We must have the "Met" every spring, as a tonic and as the burgeoning promise of another great season.

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