[Met Performance] CID:135440
Faust {443} Cleveland Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/6/1943.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
April 6, 1943


FAUST {443}

Faust...................Charles Kullman
Marguerite..............Helen Jepson
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................Frank Valentino
Siebel..................Lucielle Browning
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................Wilfred Engelman

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

Review of Elmore Bacon in the Cleveland News

Jepson, Pinza Brilliant In Ever-Popular "Faust"

In spite of - we would not say as a consequence of - sudden shifts in the cast, the Metropolitan Opera presentation of Gounod's "Faust" last evening at Music Hall before another near-capacity audience was a marked success artistically.

Had he attended last evening's performance Mr. Gounod might have been tempted to rename his opera "Mephistopheles," so dominating and satisfying was the presentation of that character by Ezio Pinza, subbing for Norman Cordon who was unable to appear.

Pinza was a devil of a devil. And vocally and histrionically carried off the honors. We have never heard Cordon in the part, so it may be that we would have been equally pleased by his performance.

And then Francesco Valentino sang the Valentin in place of John Charles Thomas, held in Los Angeles by transportations difficulties. And while his voice is not of quite the same timbre, has not quite the volume and warmth as the Thomas voice, he was superb in the part.

Helen Jepson, Charles Kullman, Lucielle Browning, Thelma Votipka and Wilfred Engelman completed a cast that made last night's performance a "Faust" to be remembered.

Under the vigorous direction of Sir Thomas Beecham the melodious and dramatic presentation moved along at a lively pace. And under his baton it gained distinction through the artistic handling of the orchestra and the expressive shading obtained from the chorus.

This well-worn opera contains some of the most beautiful music in the operatic repertoire. It offers the age-old story of the struggle between good and evil. And, truth to tell, Gounod and Pinza make such a consistently smart fellow out of the devil that one finds himself rather applauding his clever tricks. The wreckage of human lives in his wake served to re-establish him as a personage to be condemned, however, and it is a relief to note that Marguerite finally finds forgiveness.

Miss Jepson sang the role of the unfortunate girl with fine artistry. After a jewel song that seemed a bit forced, she warmed up vocally and was movingly effective in the rest of the garden scene and in the scene with Mephisto in the public square. In the immensely moving finale her revelation of her own transformation and pardon was thrilling.

While Kullman's fine tenor, too, seemed to lack some of its usual stamina in the early part of the garden scene, especially the Serenade to the dwelling, he sang the rest of the scene, and especially in the beautiful quartet, with fine artistry and in excellent voice.

The Valentin of Valentino - quite fitting, eh? - was notably fine. He realized all of the role's dramatic values, sang the Prayer in the first act beautifully and was thrilling in the death scene, in which he disowns Marguerite. While his resonant baritone has a rather strained effect in the middle register, it retains its purity and strength in the higher reaches.

Pinza was in fine form vocally and dramatically in a part that he plays to perfection. His "Calf of Gold" song in the Kermess scene, his love-making with Marthe in the garden, his clever and cynical Serenade at Marguriite's door were marvelously well done. Lucielle Browning as Siebel and Thelma Votipka as Marthe were as excellent in their acting as in their fine vocalizing. The Siebel singing of the "Flower Song" was most effective. Engelman was the efficient Wagner.

The staging of this "Faust" was something to be admired. And the chorus revealed the results of its fine training. Director Beecham set an unusually fast pace for the [beginning] chorus in the Kermess and kept the tempo on the rapid side through the waltz, too, done beautifully by the members of the ballet.



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