[Met Performance] CID:139550
Faust {454} Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/16/1945.


Cleveland, Ohio
April 16, 1945

FAUST {454}

Faust...................Raoul Jobin
Marguerite..............Licia Albanese
Méphistophélès..........Ezio Pinza
Valentin................Leonard Warren
Siebel..................Lucielle Browning
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................John Baker

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

Review of Milton Widder in the Cleveland Press

Star Cast Gives Excellent Performance in 'Faust'

The brilliance of last night's opera opener, Gounod's "Faust," centered around the individual artists singing the leading and secondary parts, each of them a great name. Seldom has Cleveland heard such a fine cast assembled in one opera in Public Hall.

Dominating the stage was Ezio Pinza, whose Mephistopheles was sinister yet suave, who slithered through his evil ways with masterful ease. Vocally, too, this master created the illusion necessary to make the hearer wince and shudder while he was weaving his net of sin around Raoul Jobin (Faust) - who should have known better - and innocent Licia Albanese (Marguerite) - for whom death was salvation.

This was the first time that Miss Albanese, a great soprano, has sung the role here and her characterization was simply and beautifully done. There was magnificence in her singing and especially in the closing trio and the second act Jewel Song did she thrill the large audience.

Mr. Jobin in the name role acquitted himself with glory, too. His ringing high notes were clear and strong while he acted the avid and aged philosopher who wanted to recapture youth and love convincingly.

Stars Have Field Day

Leonard Warren appeared as Valentin, the brother who wanted to avenge his sister's honor but fell to the sword of the devil. His dramatic voice and sincerity added much to the enjoyment of the opera, as did the exceptionally fine work by Thelma Votipka, who did the comic Marthe. Lucielle Browning, as Siebel, had her part well in hand and her aria in the beginning of the second act had much to commend it. Wilfred Pelletier presided in the pit with his capable baton.

While the individual stars had a field day in the production and the overall presentation had color and beauty, there were some factors missing to make this [first] night among the more luadable ones in the Met's 20-year history in Cleveland.

Judging only by the Met's own standards, which are high and most praiseworthy, this show fell in the mediocre group. It did not sparkle and it was not inspiring in spite of the fact that there were those aforementioned great moments.

Unwieldy Scene

The Kermesse scene in the first act, for instance, had a great mass of persons on the stage, but it seemed unwieldy and awkward. The incidental dances, to the beautiful Gounod music, were accidental rather than incidental because the village folk did not have enough room for their cavorting.

There were other little mishaps, insignificant in themselves, that robbed the opera of continuity and full-fledged greatness.

In spite of the downpour last night that started half an hour before curtain time, most in the audience were in their seats by 8 and true to the established rule the opera started on time. Opera will start on the dot tonight, too - and curtain is at 7:30 p. m. for "Die Meistersinger." Standing time tonight through the first act is 74 minutes.

Six opera stars, including Mr. Pinza, will go to the Crile General Hospital tomorrow afternoon for a special concert for the soldier-patients under the direction of Mr. Pelletier. An orchestra of 35 will accompany the singers.

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