[Met Performance] CID:135410
Don Giovanni {116} Matinee Broadcast ed. Chicago Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 04/3/1943., Broadcast


Chicago, Illinois
April 3, 1943 Matinee Broadcast


Don Giovanni............Ezio Pinza
Donna Anna..............Zinka Milanov
Don Ottavio.............James Melton
Donna Elvira............Jarmila Novotna
Leporello...............Salvatore Baccaloni
Zerlina.................Bidú Sayao
Masetto.................Mack Harrell
Commendatore............Norman Cordon

Conductor...............Paul Breisach

Review (unsigned) in a Chicago newspaper

Mozart 'Don Giovanni' Enriched by Direction And by Pinza's Artistry

Title Role Sung with Rare Understanding; Supporting Cast Lends Charm to Opera

Mozart's "Don Giovanni" was given at a matinee performance by the Metropolitan Opera Association at the Civic Opera House yesterday. Bruno Walter, who was to have conducted it, was indisposed and his place was taken by Paul Breisach. Mr. Breisach is no stranger to Chicago. He previously conducted this very opera here when he was attached to the directorial forces of the Chicago Opera Co. Since then he joined the Metropolitan organization and has been conducting in New York. It must be recorded that the conductor delivered a more than well-rehearsed reading of Mozart's masterpiece. He showed himself to be a musician thoroughly in sympathy with Mozart's style, and he was adroit in projecting it to the best advantage. His ability to focus the delicacy and loveliness of the score of "Don Giovanni" was worthy of all praise; but Mr. Breisach also showed himself to be in complete command of all that was happening on the stage and disposed to give the singers every opportunity to disclose their art and skill.

The dominant figure on the stage was that of Ezio Pinza, who sang the music of the title role. It is difficult to think of a contemporary basso who is as convincing as he in the interpretation of Mozart parts. It is not alone that Mr. Pinza possesses a magnificent voice, with complete knowledge of its use; there is also his never-failing understanding of characterization. This was shown very effectively in his reading of the rascally Don. Beethoven bewailed the circumstance that Mozart had exploited his genius in wedding music to so immoral a plot; but the immorality consisted in giving such ravishing music to so base a character, and causing its listeners to feel keen regret when he was taken to the infernal regions. Mr. Pinza's portrayal of Don Giovanni was so debonair and so filled with grace that his downward departure was, as usual, much to be deplored. Salvatore Baccaloni, as Leporello, made a happy business of a role which is one of the most difficult in opera. It is often either well sung and crudely acted or badly sung and played with infinite zest and humor. Mr. Baccaloni was able to combine first-class vocalization with the light touch, without which Leporello is likely to be a bore. The artist's Catalog Song was a model of skillful presentation.

The three other male members of the cast were Norman Cordon, its Commendatore, and James Melton and Mack Harrell, its Don Ottavio and Masetto respectively. The first named had little to do, but did it well. Mr. Melton was favored by Mozart with some exquisite music, and he showed his gratitude for it by singing with polished elegance. "Il mio Tesoro" was delivered with great beauty of style and only the running passages, as to their clarity, left something to be desired. Masetto can scarcely be considered as a grateful part, for a country bumpkin offers only moderate opportunities to a singer yearning to make a vocal and histrionic triumph. Yet Mozart provided Masetto with some expressive tunes, and Mr. Harrell accomplished appealing work in disclosing them.

The Donna Elvira of Jarmila Novotna was sung with distinction, and the artist was wise in playing the role with seriousness, but not with tragic force. Zinka Milanov was less satisfactory, in so far as her tone was too often unsteady, and by that token the music of Donna Anna - the aria "Or, sai chi l'onore," for instance, was less persuasive than it should have been. Bidu Sayao's Zerlina was a complete delight. That artist made the arias, as well as the recitatives, a miracle of seductiveness, for she sang, not only with radiant charm, but acted with much of the vivacity which had made her work in "The Marriage of Figaro" so brilliant to see and hear.

It was the general ensemble, however, which, made yesterday's performance an artistic delectation. Bruno Walter must be given much credit for this, as it was he who prepared the interpretation; yet it was Mr. Breisach who notably carried it into effect.

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