[Met Performance] CID:132820
Faust {432} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/30/1942.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 30, 1942
Revised production


FAUST {432}
Gounod-Barbier/Carré

Faust...................Richard Crooks
Marguerite..............Licia Albanese
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................Richard Bonelli
Siebel..................Lucielle Browning
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................Arthur Kent

Conductor...............Thomas Beecham

Director................Herbert Graf
Designer................Joseph Urban
Set designer............Richard Rychtarik [Act I only]
Choreographer...........Laurent Novikoff

Faust received four performances this season.
[Rychtarik designed a different set for Act I, Faust's study.]


Review of Oliver J. Gingold in the Wall Street Journal

Beecham Highlights "Faust"

Although Gounod's "Faust" probably has been played more than any other opera and its delightful music is familiar to the general public, it always is a refreshing performance, replete as it is with drama as well as a variety of magnificent arias for every type of vocal effort. In the opinion on this reviewer Gounod's masterpiece still stands among the opera greats from every standpoint. As evidence of its popularity, there was not a vacant seat or any standing room left at the Metropolitan's first performance of the opera Friday night.

Guest conductor Sir Thomas Beecham took top honors, both because of a faultless interpretation of the music and also his ability to control and bring out the best that the Metropolitan's orchestra has to give. Be it remembered that it is an experienced and top notch aggregation of musicians, second to none in opera. Apparently Beecham has established sympathy with the players for it was a delight to listen to the complete synchronization of leadership and musical results.

The Mephistopheles of Ezio Pinza was fascinating. Always a good actor, and a personable one besides, this great baritone was at his best in the mocking, dashing and sinister part, dominating the stage in voice and action. As always Pinza was Grand Opera. His rendition of the famous "Le Veau d'Or" aria was done with a verve and a voice that brought the house down. Licia Albanese's Marguerite was not entirely satisfactory. She has a strong and lyrical voice but her rendition of the brilliant "Air Des Bijoux," or "Jewel" song, was not within her compass. However she sang the "Le Roi De Thule" magnificently and in the finale her part in the famous trio, which included Pinza and Crooks, was done well enough to bring the house down. Unfortunately Mme. Albanese lacks histrionic ability but her vocal efforts are always worthwhile. Richard Crooks as Faust did not offer a notable performance, whether in acting or singing, and his efforts at times suggested difficulty in handling some of the songs. Richard Bonelli's Valentin was an able one and he has an adequate voice. His rendition of the "Dio Possenti" aria was satisfactory, but not brilliant, and he was altogether too physically active in his death scene. Thelma Votipka always does Martha well and she excelled herself Friday night. Arthur Kent's Wagner was adequate and Lucielle Browning's Siebel was sung irregularly, although she rendered the "Flower" song sufficiently well to earn the applause which followed.

There was nothing particularly new about Herbert Graf's staging of this opera and somehow or other it was not up to his usual high standards. The choreography was "so so" and the chorus did not do as well as usual although the "Soldier's" chorus registered and received some plaudits.

Altogether it was a better "Faust" than the Metropolitan has put on in several years, largely due to the efforts of Sir Thomas.



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