[Met Performance] CID:138090
Faust {449} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 12/5/1944.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
December 5, 1944


FAUST {449}

Faust...................Charles Kullman
Marguerite..............Licia Albanese
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................Martial Singher
Siebel..................Martha Lipton
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................John Baker

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

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

Metropolitan Presents "Faust" as Season's Second Offering

This is apparently not just the moment for "Faust" at the Metropolitan. It sometimes happens this way with opera companies. We deduced this fact after hearing Gounod's opera given at the Academy of Music last night as the season's second offering.

There is no doubt that the Metropolitan, its present resources and policies being what they are, does as well as it possibly can in presenting this beloved war horse, but the results are not such that one can wax ecstatic.

Last night's stage direction seemed often unimaginative; sometimes as in the church scene, childish. The five rows of choristers who sat and rose perfunctorily were not convincing, nor were such things as the chorus master's arm emerging from the wings as he beat time, and the backstage scene-shifters cries of "Get it up, Charlie" apt to improve a situation which was not too secure from the start.

Sometimes there was considerable spirit, as in the climax of the Kermesse scene and the singing of the final trio. Sometimes there was a note of genuine authenticity as in the Valentin of Martial Singher.

The baritone shared with Ezio Pinza's more familiar devil, the honors of the evening. Like most Frenchmen on the stage, Mr. Singher knows how to stand and how to walk, how to dress and achieve pictorial effect. It was good to hear the French language correctly enunciated, and also the broadly resonant tones in an effective "Avant de quitter des Ileux" and even more effective death-scene.

Ezio Pinza's Mephistopheles is brilliant and filled with ebullient vitality. The celebrated basso was in good form last night and was quite apt to dominate matters when he was on the stage. Vocally exciting, except for the Serenade, whose two high E's now present more of a problem than ever, the singer's makeup, costuming and address are things which young and ambitious students could well afford to study. Not so Mr. Pinza's French, which is one of the minor phenomena of the Metropolitan.

Charles Kullman substituted for Raoul Jobin in the title role and gave a competent, artistic but miniature performance of Faust's mellifluous arias, with the usual downward transposition cleverly concealed in the middle of the "Salut demeure."

There was an eminently successful debut on the part of Martha Lipton, New York mezzo-soprano, in the role of Siebel. Miss Lipton looked charming in her boy's costume, acted with freedom and sang "Taites-lou mes aveux" exceedingly well.

The Marguerite of the evening was Licia Albanese, one of the most gifted, artistic singers at the Metropolitan. However, this is not the role for the charming Italian lyric soprano. Her type is far removed indeed from the dreamily introspective Nordic Gretchen of Goethe's poem, nor does the music, except in certain passages, show her lovely voice to its best advantage. Miss Albanese should at least be sporting enough to attempt the trills of the Jewel Song and she should work hard to lighten and equalize her scales in the florid music.



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