[Met Performance] CID:137190
Mignon {86} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/16/1944.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 16, 1944


MIGNON {86}

Mignon..................Jennie Tourel
Wilhelm Meister.........Jacques Gérard
Philine.................Patrice Munsel
Lothario................Virgilio Lazzari
Frédéric................Lucielle Browning
Laërte..................Donald Dame
Jarno...................John Gurney
Dance...................Michael Arshansky
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Leon Varkas
Dance...................Nina Youskevitch

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


Review of Virgil Thomson in the New York Herald Tribune

"Mignon" by Ambroise Thomas, is a pleasant opera, but it is not a deeply touching one because the libretto makes too little sense. The attempt to crowd into it as many as possible of the sensational events described in Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister" has left no room for telling the story that lies behind them. Whatever was clear of the narrative in last night's performance at the Metropolitan Opera House was due to the consistent characterization of the title role by Jennie Tourel.

That Miss Tourel has a beautiful voice and that she is a mistress of vocal technique, as well as a superb musician, is not news. That she is an actress of style and no mean power was a surprise to this reviewer. She played the part quietly, poetically, with a certain gypsy pathos. Not often does one see on the operatic stage such a simply integrated conception or hear music and words projected in such modest but masterly manner. She did not strain her voice or overact on any occasion for full expression. She simply did everything right, including a great, big round high C; and everything she did told a story. Miss Tourel is a superb workman who cannot fail to be of value to the Metropolitan company.

The supporting cast was more harmonious than the one heard in earlier performances this season. Jacques Gerard, the tenor, sings, like Miss Tourel, perfectly real and admirably clean French. He also has good musical phrasing and a delightful legato style. If his loud work last night was not always perfectly placed, he did, nevertheless, come out at the end of the second act with a fine, ringing, high B. Virgilio Lazzari sang with style, too, though he was a little husky from a bad cold. And Donald Dame did honest, if slightly elementary, work as Laerte.

Patrice Munsel's Philine is part genius and part bluff. The gifted child has an unusual talent for the stage. She is at home on it, and all her movements have brilliance. Her vocal organ is, however, so far from being completely trained that she is obliged to improvise most of her singing. I do not mean that she improvises notes; these she intones from the written score with fair accuracy. I mean that she never knows in advance just how she is going to produce them. As a result far more often than not they come out ugly, unresonant, buzzy. But her sparkle as an actress sets off most advantageously Miss Tourel's somber concentration and controlled artistry.




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