[Met Performance] CID:139160
La Gioconda {147} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/13/1945.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 13, 1945


LA GIOCONDA {147}

La Gioconda.............Stella Roman
Enzo....................Frederick Jagel
Laura...................Bruna Castagna
Barnaba.................Leonard Warren
Alvise..................Virgilio Lazzari
La Cieca................Margaret Harshaw
Zune...................John Gurney
Ispo...................Lodovico Oliviero
Monk....................William Hargrave
Steersman...............John Baker
Singer..................Osie Hawkins
Singer..................Richard Manning
Dance...................Ann Lee
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Leon Varkas
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff

Conductor...............Emil Cooper

Review of Elsie Finn in the Philadelphia Record

Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" Sung at Academy by Met

Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" took another sturdy lease on life last night in the spirited and musically satisfying performance given the Italian opera by the Metropolitan Opera Company in the Academy of Music.

The popularity of this lyric drama long has been a variable - depending more on production excellence, dcor, chorus, ballet and cast selection than on Ponchielli's ample, zestful and lovely music.

Last night's production scored handsomely in all departments. It was a treat vocally as well as visually and "The Dance of the Hours," the opera's famous ballet, seldom has been given a more delightful performance than offered by Marina Svetlova, Alexis Dolinoff and the ballet.

Complicated Libretto

The absurd and complicated libretto of "La Gioconda" gives roles of importance to five principals - all almost equally responsible for the merit of the show. With the possible exception of Frederick Jagel, the tenor, last night's singers were uniformly excellent.

With Stella Roman as La Gioconda and Bruna Castagna as Laura, her rival and benefactress, the opera hurdled a handicap that has ruined so many previous productions. Both sopranos held their own so resolutely that they blended rich voices in the perilous second act duet "L'amo come il fulgot del creato" without treading on each other's toes. True, Castagna's stage presence is the more commanding. But Miss Roman's voice is especially commanding.and is, in the upper register, more round and vibrant and more than equal to a contest with Miss Castagna's opulent tones.

Leonard Warren, also in rare good form, brought a diabolic majesty to the snide and villainous Barnaba. His voice rang out with sneering eloquence throughout his vocal schemes to win La Gioconda's love and there was unwonted joviality in his performance of "Ah Pescator" at the [beginning] of the second act.

Vocal Beauty

Margaret Harshaw's La Cieca was another reason for the opera's success. In spite of the unnecessarily grotesque makeup invariably allotted the character, the contralto brought thrilling vocal beauty to the role, particularly in the aria during which she give her rosary to Laura.

As Enzo, the nobleman for whom two women risk their lives, Frederick Jagel faced one of the most trying operatic situations. Since Caruso, no Enzo has been wholeheartedly accepted by "La Gioconda" audiences. Not exactly a figure of romance, Jagel was also harassed by a voice that doesn't mellow readily. His performance of the famous "Cielo e mar" was impassioned but uneven.

Virgillio Lazzari, who replaced Nicola Moscona, brought an impressive presence and a good bass voice to the role of the vengeful Alvise.

Under Emil Cooper's direction the orchestra gave a delicate and carefully shaded performance of music which was among the first of the Italian opera scores to give full instrumental support to the vocal performances.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).