[Met Performance] CID:135450
La Traviata {258} Cleveland Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/7/1943.


Cleveland, Ohio
April 7, 1943

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Violetta................Licia Albanese
Alfredo.................James Melton
Germont.................Lawrence Tibbett
Flora...................Thelma Votipka
Gastone.................Alessio De Paolis
Baron Douphol...........George Cehanovsky
Marquis D'Obigny........Louis D'Angelo
Dr. Grenvil.............Lorenzo Alvary
Annina..................Helen Olheim
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Michael Arshansky
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff

Conductor...............Cesare Sodero

Review of Elmore Bacon in the Cleveland News

Albanese, Tibbett, Melton Win Acclaim of Capacity Crowd in "La Traviata"

One of the best performances of "La Traviata" the Met Opera has ever given at Public Hall, attended last evening by a capacity crowd, revealed Licia Albanese as a well-nigh perfect Violetta, James Melton in a notable personation of Alfredo, and Lawrence Tibbett's famous baritone back in its usual thrilling form.

It was a sparking performance altogether, well sung, marvelously well acted and smoothly produced that kept a procession of stars bowing before the curtain. And again the Metropolitan Opera orchestra scored, and this time with a musical setting presented at a non-speedway pace.

This Verdi masterpiece of eighteenth century life in Paris is grand opera that all can like. It has color and brilliance, melody and dramatic fire - romance and tragedy. Most of the music is simple in its melodic appeal. And much of it is decorated with those coloratura frostings and tinsels that delight the ear.

It surely was radio night at the opera. Miss Albanese, who gave one of the most superb performances of Violetta that Public Hall has heard, is best known to Clevelanders through her frequent appearance on Chicago music broadcasts. And, of course, tenor Melton, whose Alfredo was not only a thorough dramatic presentation, but a notable vocal achievement, has long been a top figure on the kilocycles.

Miss Albanese made fine use of her pliant, warm and golden-toned soprano. There was a style to her singing that lifts it above the score requirements into an emotional phase and vocal skill that make for great artistry. Besides, Miss Albanese is a notable actress and impersonation and song went hand in hand.

Her handling of the coloratura niceties of the "Ah, fors e lui" in the [first] scene was superb. And she was equally successful in the dramatic moments, her scene with Giorgio, the parting with Alfredo and in her pathetic farewell to life. While occasionally there were moments of tenseness in her voice when forced, these metallic intrusions were far and few between.

Albanese will be back tonight as the Micaela of "Carmen" which also will return to the footlights such Cleveland favorites as Irra Petina in the name role, Thelma Votipka as Frasquita, Raoul Jobin as Don Josè and Leonard Warren as Escamillo…

Last night Melton sang the Alfredo as if he had been singing opera all his life. There was naturalness about his acting that quite fitted the part. His tenor is of fine quality through all its range. And he makes exquisite use of his head tones. Right from the start, in the drinking song and the duet with Violetta he revealed smoothness and security of pitch along with richness and dramatic fire. His scene with Giorgio was well sung and well acted.

While his anger with Violetta in the villa scene was perhaps a bit subdued, it was sufficient to account for the aroused resentment of her friends. And his contrition at the close was unmistakable.

The Giorgio of Tibbett last evening had the master quality that goes with the name he has won in opera. He was in excellent voice, sang the "Di Provenza" superbly and matched his fine singing in the preceding farewell scene with Violetta with an emotional urge that made it one of the evening's fine features.

Thelma Votipka was the excellent Flora, George Cehanovsky, the Baron Duphol, and Louis D'Angelo, the Marquis. These with the three principals sang the effective and beautiful sextet that had as a background the massed chorus in the villa scene - one of the most beautiful melodic offerings in the opera. Helen Olhem was the Annina, Alessio de Paolis, the Gastone, and Lorenzo Alvary, the Dr. Grenvil.

Cesare Sodero directed with a caressing baton. He presented the prelude most appealingly and maintained the tranquil beauty of the fourth-act prelude.

The ballet had its opportunity in the villa scene, offering a Spanish dance. The "Tzigane" was dance by Monna Montez, Michael Arshansky and Alexis Dolinoff, Conductor Sodero and Stage Manager Defrere were included, and rightfully, with the principals in the curtain calls.

While "La Traviata" has no Baccaloni comedy spot in it, a couple of the dancers won the inevitable audience laugh when, in the ballroom dance in the first scene, they slipped and fell while Violetta and Alfredo were pitching a bit of woo. It didn't interfere with the pitching.

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