[Met Performance] CID:138420
Die Zauberflöte {90} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/5/1945.

(Debut: Mimi Benzell
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 5, 1945
In English


DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE {90}
Mozart-Schikaneder

Pamina..................Jarmila Novotna
Tamino..................James Melton
Queen of the Night......Mimi Benzell [Debut]
Sarastro................Ezio Pinza
Papageno................John Brownlee
Papagena................Lillian Raymondi
Monostatos..............John Garris
Speaker.................Nicola Moscona
First Lady..............Irene Jessner
Second Lady.............Maxine Stellman
Third Lady..............Anna Kaskas
Genie...................Marita Farell
Genie...................Mona Paulee
Genie...................Thelma Altman
Priest..................Richard Manning
Priest..................Louis D'Angelo
Guard...................Emery Darcy
Guard...................John Gurney

Conductor...............Paul Breisach

Director................Herbert Graf
Designer................Richard Rychtarik

Translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin

Die Zauberflöte received three performances this season.


Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

BENZELL, MELTON SING 'MAGIC FLUTE'

Soprano Takes Role for First Time at the Metropolitan - Paul Breisach Conducts

The fantastic vaudeville and the divine laughter of Mozart's "Magic Flute" made conquest of the big audience that gathered for its first performance this season last night in the Metropolitan Opera House. The discursiveness of the libretto is balanced by the brevity and the contrast of its many scenes.

Learned tomes have been written about the meaning of this libretto, its allusions to Free Masonry, and all the rest of it. What the audience sees is a combination of a fairy tale and a farce, conveyed by music of a mercurial inspiration. All sense of logic and of dramatic continuity is happily forgotten. Things marvelous and absurd happen without explanation, which no one cares about, and there's an evening's feast of captivating music.

The performance last night was a good, if not an inspired, one. Mr. Pinza's Sarastro, Mme. Novotna's Paraina, John Brownlee's Papageno and Lillian Rayrnondi's Papagena were among the parts well remembered from previous seasons, which have put this production high among the most popular of the Metropolitan shows. But last night James Melton was the Tamino and Mimi Benzell-for the first time-The Queen of the Night, and there were other alterations in the casting.

A Meritorious Reading

Mr. Breisach conducted and, faced a difficult test as the successor of Bruno Walter in the leader's chair, for it was Mr. Walter who introduced this production of the "Magic Flute" in English and who had conducted it until last night at the Metropolitan. Mr. Breisach gave a musicianly and generally meritorious reading of the score. It is not to be concluded that if he continues to interpret this score he will necessarily fail to confer upon it more of the tension, fantasy and sparkle that permeate the miraculous composition.

Mr. Melton, with his fresh and youthful voice, his intelligence and sincerity in whatever he did, added a promising role to his repertory. The music of the Queen of the Night may never be sung again as it was by the exceptionally high soprano and temperamental artist for whom Mozart wrote it. Therefore, like other sopranos who essay the extravagant demands of the role, Miss Benzell was palpably put to it to master its techniques. Unlike many of them, she sang quick, florid legato passages and also the high staccati of the dagger song with very creditable execution and, in the second aria, with more than a hint of its drama.

Pinza Is the Sarastro

Then there was Mr. Pinza, not at home in the cavernous depths of Sarastro's deep bass part, but otherwise the master of fine singing, and warmly recognized as such by the audience, Mme. Novotna's Pamina was sometimes hard in high tessitura, but in the better registers she colored her tones warmly and with emotion.

Mr. Brownlee's Papageno is the work of a veteran in the part. This figure of comic relief is felt to justify such gags and smart sayings as are out of character with the rest of the book, and not so amusing as a finer brand of humor might be, but this, no doubt, is caviling. There was prevailingly a good ensemble and excellent choral singing, "The Magic Flute" was well launched for the duration of the season,



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).