[Met Performance] CID:139720
Don Giovanni {125} Chicago Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 05/2/1945.


Chicago, Illinois
May 2, 1945


Don Giovanni............Ezio Pinza
Donna Anna..............Zinka Milanov
Don Ottavio.............Charles Kullman
Donna Elvira............Eleanor Steber
Leporello...............Salvatore Baccaloni
Zerlina.................Nadine Conner
Masetto.................Mack Harrell
Commendatore............Nicola Moscona

Conductor...............Bruno Walter

Review of Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Daily Tribune

Beautifully Sung 'Don Giovanni' with Walter at Helm, Puts Met's Best Foot Forward

If the Metropolitan had brought us nothing except last night's "Don Giovanni," we still would be deeply in its debt, for Mozart's enchanting opera, beautifully sung, and for Bruno Walter, that great man of music, whose conducting is so simple, so unaffectedly ineffable, and so unmistakably right. Even when half the world lays in ruins, music like that remains a reassuring link with the past and a promise for the future. The Metropolitan may have had to compromise to keep its doors open this last decade, but open they are, and out of them sometimes comes music that justifies its position as today's keeper of the operatic keys. Mozart like that means a great tradition held, if not inviolate, at least in high trust for posterity.

'Giovanni" is a curiously lovely opera. It is a comedy with tragic overtones and while its music bubbles out like fresh water from an inexhaustible spring, it has nobility as well as gayety, and it can sculpture a phrase as richly as it can caress one. Mr. Walter knows, loves, and projects all these qualities. They show in his face as he works, and, just in case you care, I think Mr. Walter has about the most beautiful face of our time. Just by looking at it, you know long before their downfall that people like Hitler and Mussolini had written their own doom in their own smallness.

But we are talking about "Giovanni," or at least we should have been. With Mr. Walter in the pit, it ran like Mozartean silk from its supple spool. Theoretically, I know the purists are right when they contend the Don should be sung by a baritone for correct balance, but what baritone have we to rival Ezio Pinza of handsome figure, the debonair charm, and the basso cantante that wraps Mozart in the velvet cloak of mezza voice? When he sings "La ci darem la mano" I want to write variations on it myself.

The cast on the whole was expert, but I particularly liked Miss Steber's Donna Elvira. Out of a usually maligned role she conjured success, and that soprano of hers is growing lovelier by the performance. Its richness was a lovely balance in the trios with Mr. Kullman's smooth tenor and Zinka Milanov's competent but somehow cold singing of the stratospheric Donna Anna. Miss Conner was a charming Zerlina, not as radiant of voice as Sayao or a remembered Mason, but beguiling to eye and ear. Mr. Baccaloni was a droll figure as Leporello, but to my taste he has more comic skill than Mozartean style. Mr. Harrell's bumpkin Masetto has a touch of both. Mr. Moscona was admirable while he lasted. It Commendatore is a bass of few words.

Mr. Graf's staging was deft, but the stage looked pretty dismal. Our stylized settings haven't aged well with their scrolls and swirls, the beautiful traveler curtains that belong to the production evidently have been lost, and the Metropolitan's clash with a vengeance.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).