[Met Performance] CID:139170
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {194} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/14/1945.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 14, 1945


Figaro..................Richard Bonelli [Last performance]
Rosina..................Jennie Tourel
Count Almaviva..........Bruno Landi
Dr. Bartolo.............Salvatore Baccaloni
Don Basilio.............Virgilio Lazzari
Berta...................Doris Doe
Fiorello................John Baker
Sergeant................Richard Manning

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

[In the Lesson Scene Tourel sang Nacqui all'affanno from La Cenerentola.]

Review of Oscar Thompson in the New York Sun

With a mezzo or a soprano in the role of Rosina, the Metropolitan's "Barber of Seville" is much the same. Last night Jennie Tourel restored the vivacious feminine role to its original voice and the notes of the Rosina part were sung as they were written. Miss Tourel sang them very well-better, in fact, than the sopranos who have appeared in the part in recent memory. But Rossini undoubtedly had a brighter voice in mind, irrespective of the compass of the role. Miss Tourel's tone was almost uniformly dark in color and, for all her good work, her impersonation was not notable for its sparkle. It was a lively one, physically, and of sound operatic routine. Though it was vocally light-she could scarcely be heard in some of the ensembles-the technique of her singing was to be admired, even when the bravura of the part was rather subdued.

Review of Noel Straus in The New York Times


Mezzo-Soprano Assays Part in 'Barber of Seville' first Time at Metropolitan

Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" was presented last night at the Metropolitan Opera House with Jennie Tourel assuming the role of Rosina for the first time with the company. Never before in the Metropolitan's annals had the part been assayed by a mezzo-soprano, although it was originally written for a singer with this type of voice. Miss Tourel delivered the florid music allotted her with her accustomed musicianship, accuracy and taste. The rapidly moving ornamental passages of "Una voce, poco fa," like all of her other coloratura work throughout the evening, was smoothly and deftly sung.

This was all very interesting. But the mere fact that Miss Tourel could sing this number and the rest of the part exactly as Rossini penned it, did not negate another fact, namely, that the role was written for a completely different sort of mezzo-soprano voice. When the opera was first performed in Italian in this city in 1825, Rosina was entrusted to a mezzo-soprano, the great Malibran, then at the start of her career. Malibran's voice was famous for its brilliance and dramatic power, a voice that enabled her to sing Desdemona in Rossini's "Otello" and Leonora in Beethoven's "Fidelio" as well as lighter works of the "Barber" type.

It was this kind of a mezzo-soprano that habitually sang Rosina in its early career in the leading opera houses abroad and, except in flexibility, Miss Tourel's tones had little in common with those of artists in that category. In the "Una voce" she managed to touch the two low G sharps of the original version, but with breathy, hollow sounds of little weight and the whole aria, for all of its dispatch and cleanness, was too dark in texture to achieve the necessary sparkle. It was only when she arrived at the music-lesson scene that her tones gained in brightness in an expertly negotiated account of the tricky Rondo from Rossini's "Cenerentola," interpolated at this point. There was more body to the tones in this showpiece than elsewhere, the lower half of the range being too light to carry sufficiently in the quintet and choral ensembles. And histrionically her portrayal was more a matter of fussy gestures than a vivid impersonation.

Since the days when Henrietta Sontag first began the custom of raising the tonalities the coloratura roles of early nineteenth century opera composers and adding lofty embellishments to them, much of the original character of music like Rosina's has been lost, but how this character's vocalism sounded in the early days could not be gleaned from last night's performance, in which the other roles all were sung by familiar artists including Bruno Landi, Salvatore Baccaloni, Richard Bonelli and Virgilio Lazzari. The latter got a big hand for his able delivery of the "Calunnia" aria.

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