[Met Performance] CID:13790
Otello {8} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/2/1895.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 2, 1895


OTELLO {8}
Giuseppe Verdi--Arrigo Boito

Otello..................Francesco Tamagno
Desdemona...............Emma Eames
Iago....................Victor Maurel
Emilia..................Eugenia Mantelli
Cassio..................Georges Mauguičre
Lodovico................Alfonso Mariani
Herald..................Lodovico Viviani
Montŕno.................Antonio De Vaschetti
Roderigo................Antonio Rinaldini
Herald..................Lodovico Viviani

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

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

VERDI'S "OTELLO" AT THE OPERA
A Small Audience Hears Tamagno and Maurel in Their Original Parts

Verdi's "Otello" did not attract a large audience at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. There were altogether too many empty seats, considering the fact that the opera was one of the most important works of the last ten years and that Tamagno and Maurel appeared in the parts which Verdi chose them to interpret. Yet it is not especially difficult to account for the apathy of this public. With all its pretensions, this is not really a profoundly musical city and a very few performances of opera would suffice to exhaust the resources of the small body of serious music-lovers. "Otello" is not a work for the fashionable masses; it is too sombre, too tragic, too utterly in earnest in the fidelity of its music to its text. Nor is it a work to please that large body of operagoers who regard operas themselves simply as fields for the display of accomplished singing. There is very little flowing melody in the familiar song-forms of "Otello." According to Schumann, "melody is the amateur's war cry," and there is less of melody, as the amateur perceives it, in this work than there is in any one of the music-dramas of "Der Ring des Nibelungen." It is composed mostly of declamation, splendid, indeed, in its eloquence; but not designed for the tickling of the popular ear.

The performance last night was generally good and, in some respects, excellent. Signor Tamagno repeated his powerful impersonation of Otello, which has certain vocal faults, but is good to witness in spite of them. M. Maurel was again the Iago, and it is difficult to speak of the excellence of his performance without appearing to overpraise it. One must be intimately acquainted with the libretto to appreciate the many shades of meaning which Maurel puts into his singing despite the worn state of his voice. His narration of Cassio's dream, for instance, remains what it has been since the production of "Otello " in 1887, one of the most remarkable achievements in expression and in skillful management of the mezza voce known to the contemporaneous stage. The whole of the second act, serious as it is, was intensely interesting as performed by the two men last night. But it gave very small opportunity for the gentlemen who burst into enthusiastic cries of "Bravo!" over vocal tours de force.

Mme. Emma Eames is a gentle, refined Desdemona, but her ability to express the grief of a wounded heart remains limited. Her best vocal work was the delivery of the grateful "Ave Maria" in the last act. Mme. Mantelli was a competent Emilia and M. Mauguičre was at least tolerable as Cassio. The chorus, as usual, discharged its duties in a manner not calculated to inspire enthusiasm. The orchestra played with an abundance of vigor, but not always with smoothness. Signor Mancinelli conducted. Though the audience was not large, there was plenty of enthusiasm, and all the leading artists were called out three times after the third act. Tonight "Les Huguenots" will be repeated, with the remarkable cast of the former performance.



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