[Met Performance] CID:138000
Faust {448} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/27/1944.

(Opening Night {60}
Edward Johnson, General Manager
Debut: Martha Lipton

Metropolitan Opera House
November 27, 1944
Opening Night {60}

Edward Johnson, General Manager

FAUST {448}

Faust...................Raoul Jobin
Marguerite..............Licia Albanese
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................Martial Singher
Siebel..................Martha Lipton [Debut]
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................John Baker

Conductor...............Wilfred Pelletier

Director................Désiré Defrère
Designer................Joseph Urban
Set designer............Richard Rychtarik [Act I only]
Choreographer...........Laurent Novikoff

Faust received seven performances this season.

Review of Virgil Thomson in the Herald Tribune

Worthy and Sedate

Musically, last night presentation of Gounod's "Faust" was an honest piece of work. The singing, though at no point extraordinary in style of beauty, was all good singing and the orchestra, sounded rather better than usual for prettiness of tone. The opera itself is a pleasant one. All was restful and dignified and sedate. If the absence of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt from the boxes was regrettable from the point of view of social star quality that of Sir Thomas Beecham from the pit was equally unfortunate to the brilliance of the stage show.

With all the excellent musical elements involved, a more vivid performance could easily have been achieved had Wilfred Pelletier, who conducted, seen fit to give it a livelier movement. His balances were correct, and all the singing was agreeable. But there was no life in the opera. Every number seemed to last an hour. And every actor seemed to be stretching out his business to the limits of slow motion, as in a Wagner work, to make it last through the music it was designed to accompany.

Ezio Pinza, as Mephistopheles, found the most to do. Martial Singher, as Valentine, made one least aware of the problem. Raoul Jobin, as Faust, and all the ladies stood around and wrung their hands. The chorus milled in the standard operatic fashion, singing with considerable imprecision the while. And the ballet, like nearly all operatic ballet troupes, seemed less to dance than to cavort. The brass players from the orchestra who appeared on stage in the "Soldiers Chorus," paraded, like any amateur outfit, with music of reduced format clipped conveniently to their horns.

The debut of Martha Lipton, as Siebel, was clearly successful. This young artist has a fresh mezzo-soprano voice of real beauty, and she sang with style, with rhythm, with grace. If she just missed losing her placement of a few high notes, so did Mr. Singher and so did Mr. Pinza. In none of these cases did the work go actually out of hand. Mr. Jobin, as usual, was at his best singing high, as was also Licia Albanese, the Marguerite. Miss Albanese's lovely voice sounded unusually small most of the time. This artist has improved her French diction over the summer, but French music does not show off her more Italian singing style to the best advantage. Her "Jewel Song" was marred by imprecise articulation of the rapid passages and by the indiscrete use of a real mirror that sent miniature spots of light flying all round the house.

The performance was marked, however, by no major carelessness, if we except the Metropolitan's absurd choral standards. It was animated by an evident desire on everybody's part to do worthily. It is too bad that a greater rhythmic animation was not there to give the piece line and trajectory, to make it seem to be doing something beyond merely opening correctly enough another season.

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