[Met Performance] CID:13380
New production
Guillaume Tell [William Tell] {12} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1894.

(Debut: Libia Drog, Francesco Tamagno, Roberto Vanni, Maria Giuri, Miss Ryan

Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1894
In Italian
New production


Guillaume Tell............Mario Ancona
Mathilde................Libia Drog [Debut]
Arnold..................Francesco Tamagno [Debut]
Walter..................Edouard de Reszke
Gesler..................Pol Planšon
Melcthal................Abram Abramoff
Hedwige.................Miss Ryan [Debut]
Jemmy...................Mathilde Bauermeister
Fisherman...............Roberto Vanni [Debut]
Leuthold................Antonio De Vaschetti
Rodolphe................Antonio Rinaldini
Dance...................Maria Giuri [Debut]

Conductor...............Luigi Mancinelli

Director................William Parry

Translation by unknown

William Tell received three performances this season.

New York Times Review, 11/22/94:


The Performance of "William Tell" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night would undoubtedly have been very interesting if it had not been for one of those misfortunes that cannot be foreseen. This misfortune was the utter collapse of the prima donna. The role of Mathilde was to have been sung by Miss Lucille Hill, but she was taken sick two or three days ago and Mme. Libia Drog, a dramatic soprano of the company, agreed to sing the part, which she had never sung before. She made her entrance at the proper time in the second act, and sang the recitative preceding the air 'Sombre foret' with smoothness and ease.

Then she embarked upon the aria, and sang the first stanza in a manner that promised only fairly but still could not be called distinctly bad. She made an attempt to begin the second stanza, whose melody is the same as that of the first, when her memory utterly failed her. She stood and glared at Signor Mancinelli, who stopped the orchestra and glared at her. He gave her a chord, and she began again, but again she could not go on. Then she and Signor Mancinelli conversed in an animated manner. But still she was songless. Then she walked off the stage, came back and looked helpless. Signor Tamagno entered and endeavored to induce her to jump to the duet with him. She turned her back to him and spoke to some one off stage, who presently came to the wing with a glass of water for her. Signor Tamagno ran off the stage. Then Mme. Drog calmly walked off. The stage was empty. The audience applauded. In Italy they would have torn up the seats and thrown them on the stage.

Presently Signor Tamagno returned to the stage and was joined by Signor Ancona, as William Tell, and Edouard de Reszke as Gualtiero. The three men jumped into the big trio, and Signor Tamagno promptly proceeded to electrify the house with a piece of magnificent declamation on a high note. Mme. Libia Drog was thenceforward a nonentity in the minds of an audience that had come to hear some big men. The lady reappeared in the finale, but her duet passages were all carefully cut. If the stage manager had had his wits about him, he would have lowered the curtain when she broke down.

In the circumstances, no fair criticism of the performance can be written. Signor Tamagno was received warmly, and after he had treated the audience to some of his splendid declamation and some genuinely passionate singing he was applauded enthusiastically. The scenery, costumes, and stage pictures were admirable, and when a smooth performance is ready 'William Tell' will be one of the features of the season

Unsigned review in The New York Press


Performance Without Precedent in the Annals of Music


Could Not Recall Words or Music, and Was Forced to Retire

An extraordinary and distressing incident was witnessed at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. Miss Lucile Hill, the Mathilde, was taken ill with influenza and Mlle. Libia Drog was selected to take her place. In Rossini's opera the heroine does not come on until the second act. Hence the [first] scene went off with the usual success. But when the curtain arose on the second act an unparalleled accident happened. Mathilde came out, sang the first bars of her aria, hesitated, faltered, blushed, trembled, and became silent.

The music continued, but the prima donna was voiceless. Signor Mancinelli looked up inquiringly and asked Mlle. Drog in testy Italian what was the matter. Mlle. Drog did not reply. She seemed in an agony of emotion, but had neither lyric nor dramatic words to express her feelings. She had completely forgotten the score, and the prompter could not help her out of her difficulty. The conductor tapped his orchestra into silence and looked dismally at the Alps. Mlle. Drog gazed into the auditorium in which the vast audience was buzzing with excited conversation. This extraordinary system of opera continued for several minutes, until at last Signor Mancinelli cut the scene, started his orchestra at a later passage and summoned Tamagno for the duo.

At the entrance of the great tenor Mlle. Drog's courage failed her altogether and she started on a run off the stage. Tamagno held her firmly. He tried to encourage her, and hummed over the part she should have sung. Still she was silent. Then the tenor dropped her arm and ran confusedly into the wings. Mlle. Drog looked after him pitifully for a moment and walked off the other side of the stage. Once more Sig. Mancinelli cut the scene and tapped for the trio. Then Tamagno returned, bringing with him Ancona and Edouard de Reszke, and the opera was resumed without a prima donna, a performance without precedent in the annals of music.

Apart from this extraordinary accident the performance was highly successful. Sig. Tamagno has come back to us in finer voice than ever, and his phenomenal notes frequently electrified the house. His Arnoldo was a superb effort, both lyrically and dramatically, and in more than one passage the audience cheered him enthusiastically. It was a wonderful performance, which more than atoned for the disappointment occasioned by the prima donna. Sig. Tamagno was admirably supported by Sig. Ancona, M. Edouard de Reszke and M. Planšon.

At a late hour an apology was made for Mlle. Drog, and she recovered sufficient composure to sing an aria in one of the succeeding acts. But so far as the soprano music was concerned the first performance of "William Tell" was a distinct and startling failure..

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