[Met Performance] CID:13780
Don Giovanni {28} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/31/1894.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 31, 1894


DON GIOVANNI {28}
Mozart-Da Ponte

Don Giovanni............Victor Maurel
Donna Anna..............Lillian Nordica
Don Ottavio.............Giuseppe Russitano
Donna Elvira............Emma Eames
Leporello...............Edouard de Reszke
Zerlina.................Zélie De Lussan
Masetto.................Agostino Carbone
Commendatore............Abram Abramoff
Dance...................Maria Giuri

Conductor...............Luigi Mancinelli

Director................William Parry

Don Giovanni received eight performances this season.

[Note: Several of the principal numbers had to be repeated, according to W. J. Henderson.]


Review of W. J. Henderson in The New York Times

THE METROPOLITAN OPERA SEASON
"Don Giovanni" Produced Last Night with a Fine Cast

It requires a good deal of enthusiastic love for Mozart to enjoy a performance of "Don Giovanni," when drops will not come down and afterward will not go up, when ushers heave bouquets on the stage at the wrong time, when the lights execute a cancan in the middle of a serious duo, when the ballet cannot dance, and the stage manager is unacquainted with the original business of the ballroom scene, and with pretty nearly everything else he ought to know. The cast was excellent, and the work of the principal singers in most instances was full of interest. In some cases it arose to something beyond ordinary excellence and touched true greatness. This was certainly true in regard to the admirable performances of M. Maurel and M. Edouard de Reszke, both of which had merits never surpassed on the local stage.

Maurel's Don Giovanni was notable for its histrionic rather than its vocal excellences. The noted baritone's voice displayed its weaknesses last night to great disadvantage in the passages requiring vigorous delivery, but in those calling for delicacy and finesse his singing was the perfection of dramatic art. As pure singing, it was perhaps not remarkable; but, as lyric expression, it was most commendable. It is hardly necessary to say that his conception of the part was correct, and that he conveyed it to the audience with an infinite variety of pose, gesture and facial expression. M. Maurel is an accomplished actor and, though it can fairly be said that he exposes his methods, yet it must be admitted that they are highly effective and full of interest.

M. Edouard de Reszke's Leporello is one of his great pictures. His composition of the character is that of a master and there is not a single one of his marvelous variety of details that does not reveal itself as an organic part of his scheme. His "Madamina" last night was so full of unction, so devilish in its rejoicing over the records of Don Giovanni's wickedness, that it aroused the highest enthusiasm of the audience. And what a lesson in expressive singing it was indeed. Throughout the opera his singing and acting were such as to call for nothing but the highest praise. The Don Ottavio of Signor Russitano, the Massetto of Signor Carbone and the Commendatore of Signor Abramoff were barely respectable, and therefore the less said about them the better.

Praise for the work of the women in the cast must be more moderate than that awarded to the two principal men. Mme. Nordica was earnest, conscientious and intelligent as Donna Anna, but her singing lacked the tragic breadth required by the part. Mme. Eames sang Donna Eivira for the first time and in a tentative, placid and even listless manner. She has a good deal yet to learn about the significance of the rôle. Mlle. de Lussen was the Zerlina and her work was so much better than her Carmen that it gave reason to expect that it made a comparatively favorably impression. She will not be remembered as one of the notable interpreters of the rôle, but it can fairly be said that she did nothing to mar the general effect of the performance and her singing, while small in volume, was neat. The recitations were very properly accompanied by a piano, though the instrument was not always handled with discretion. The stage business of the ballroom scene was incorrect, as usual, the minuet being the only dance visible. The principal numbers of the opera evoked much applause and several of them had to be repeated. Mozart's masterpiece displays a good deal of vitality in its second century on the stage.



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