[Met Performance] CID:134090
Don Giovanni {113} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/3/1942.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 3, 1942


Don Giovanni............Ezio Pinza
Donna Anna..............Zinka Milanov
Don Ottavio.............Richard Crooks [Last performance]
Donna Elvira............Jarmila Novotna
Leporello...............Salvatore Baccaloni
Zerlina.................Marita Farell
Masetto.................Mack Harrell
Commendatore............Norman Cordon

Conductor...............Bruno Walter

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


Directs Mozart Work for the First Time at Metropolitan With Telling Effect


Champagne Aria Delights His Audience - Mme. Novotna Appears as Donna Elvira

Bruno Walter conducted Mozart's "Don Giovanni" for the first time in the Metropolitan Opera House last night and the results were immediate. They were proclaimed with the first crashing chords of the one of his operatic overtures in which Mozart directly forecasts what is to come in the drama that follows. The overture became what it actually is - a dramatic tone poem and an introduction which perfectly prepared for the rising of the curtain.

The allegro was taken very fast, and in a picaresque spirit. The way in which Mozart, by the use of ordinary chords and often conventional cadences, expresses his subject is the final demonstration of the fact that even in the realm of the highest art what one has to say is the thing that overweighs all cunning fabrications of novel ways of saying it.

Throughout the opera Mr. Walter's guiding hand was felt, even when the orchestra did not respond with the utmost technical precision to his wishes. In some places his tempi were a trifle more leisurely than those we have known, but the unity of the whole conception and the apparent naturalness of the pace made one feel as though every measure was an instinctive, impulsive outpouring. It was a continuous line from the first note onward.

Champagne Aria Acclaimed

Mr. Pinza returned to a favorite role in the title part. He was in excellent fettle. The Champagne aria brought down the house. Taken at a breathless speed, the aria was delivered without the sense of hurry or of any technical difficulty - an exhilarating feat. It is of no particular interest now to discuss pros and cons of this "conception of the character." Mr. Pinza has never presented it here more effectively.

His male companions of the cast discharged their respective responsibilities with more than competence. Mr. Crooks's difficult arias were done in good style, breath control, and musicianly treatment of phrase. We liked Mr. Baccaloni's Leporello better than we did last season. It is less artificial and more in the frame of the scenes, and last night he was never less than the accomplished singing actor.

Distinguished Performance

Of the ladies, Mme. Novotna was by far the most distinguished in presence and in her treatment of Mozart's music. One can say more. One can claim that this is the aristocratic interpretation in the cast. The upper tones were sometimes edged. We have no fancy for Miss Milanov as Donna Anna. The voice, naturally a remarkable one, is all over the place. The uncertainty of its focus and the explosive manner of the singing were anything but in the classic vein. Miss Farell's Zerlina is intelligent and meritorious, not more. Mr. Harrell follows what is the Metropolitan tradition, if none other, in making Masetto, the gawky, put-upon peasant a potential revolutionist, into a petulant and pretty boy. Mr. Cordon's Commandant, with Mme. Novotna's Donna Elvira, is pitched in quite another dramatic and stylistic key; he sings as a musician and gives dignity without pompousness to his part.

Mr. Graf's stage management, in this opera as in the "Magic Flute," is on the whole excellently contrived and truly in the vein of the work. And thanks to all these factors, "Don Giovanni" is now a fixture, a popular one, and not merely a. noble and costly experiment, at the Metropolitan.

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