[Met Performance] CID:136100
Rigoletto {247} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/3/1943.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 3, 1943


RIGOLETTO {247}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Lawrence Tibbett
Gilda...................Lily Pons
Duke of Mantua..........Jan Peerce
Maddalena...............Anna Kaskas
Sparafucile.............Nicola Moscona
Monterone...............Osie Hawkins
Borsa...................John Dudley
Marullo.................George Cehanovsky
Count Ceprano...........Walter Cassel
Countess Ceprano........Maxine Stellman
Giovanna................Thelma Altman
Page....................Edith Herlick

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

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Vittorio Rota
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert
Choreographer...........Laurent Novikoff

Rigoletto received nine performances this season.

Review of Virgil Thomson in the Herald Tribune

A Slow Show

"Rigoletto," as given last night at the Metropolitan Opera House, was labored and slow, excepting for the very dramatic last act, which sounded out quite handsomely and moved with vigor. Lily Pons, the official star of the evening, sang prettily enough in her pale and bird-like fashion. Jan Peerce, who, without ever having crossed the Atlantic, has become out best Italian tenor, did a piece of work that was both robust and distinguished. Mr. Tibbett did not do well in the title part, and the pacing of the opera as whole was funereal.

"Rigoletto" is not an opera that even gets going before the third act. The first two have some good numbers in them, like the famous "Caro nome" aria, but they lack excitement and continuity. This fault was exaggerated last night by Sodero's lax conducting. He gave the singers their head, as if they were old-style virtuosos. Being nothing of the sort, they all dragged and mostly flatted (excepting Mr. Peerce} whenever they got the bit in their teeth. And a work already discontinuous went soggy and slow, just as it always does in Italy when the conductor fails to use his whip.

The third act, which is usually easier to bring off with unity, was no livelier that its predecessors. But the fourth, which goes of itself, was animated and interesting. Mr. Peerce's "La donne e mobile" and the quartet were handsomely rendered. Anna Kaskas, who sang Maddalena and Nicola Moscona, the Sparafucile, were excellent. The orchestral storm was fine fun, and the whole show sailed before a fair wind till it had doldrums again in Miss Pons's and Mr. Tibbett's final duet.

I am afraid that it was Mr. Tibbett's lamentable vocal insufficiency in a role that is long, difficult and responsible which sank the show as surely as Mr. Sodero's complaisant accompaniments did. Miss Pons worked seriously and carefully, but her voice is too small to take the lead in operatic ensemble-singing. She is at her best in arpeggiated solo crooning. That she did neatly and right on pitch. But she is not much of an actress, either. She has a certain presence and she is a good musician. I suppose it is fire she lacks, the warmth of the really theatrical temperament. And I do wish that somebody would slap her hands every time she arranges her train or pulls her skirt away from her girdle. That sort of thing betrays a preoccupation with personal appearance that is as fatal to musical concentration as it is to dramatic illusion.



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