[Met Performance] CID:140080
Roméo et Juliette {179} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/3/1945.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 3, 1945


ROMÉO ET JULIETTE {179}

Roméo...................Raoul Jobin
Juliette................Patrice Munsel
Frère Laurent...........Nicola Moscona
Stéphano................Frances Greer
Mercutio................Martial Singher
Benvolio................Richard Manning
Gertrude................Anna Kaskas
Capulet.................Frank Valentino
Tybalt..................Thomas Hayward
Pâris...................George Cehanovsky
Grégorio................Louis D'Angelo
Duke of Verona..........Osie Hawkins

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

Review of Mark A. Schubart in The New York Times

'ROMEO' RETURNS TO OPERA BOARDS

After 7 Year Absence, Gounod Opus is Back at Metropolitan -- Miss Munsel as Juliette


After an absence of seven years, Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" returned to the Metropolitan Opera's repertoire last night and there is no reason why this return should not be a pleasant one. "Romeo" has always suffered by being compared with the more familiar "Faust." "Faust" is undoubtedly the greater of the two works. Its musical ideas are more strikingly original; it has fewer clichés; its musical treatment is bolder. But "Romeo" has moments of great beauty; it has strong dramatic contrasts and, if the listener is quite prepared to put Shakespeare's eloquence out of mind for in evening, Gounod's becomes quite persuasive.

The Metropolitan's version of the opera seems to be a highly respectable one, suffering from the same evils-as well as benefiting from the same virtues-as works of the same genre in the repertoire. Its staging is orderly, highly unimaginative and quite practical. Its sets are large, roomy, comfortable for the singers to move around in and, in almost every way, unremarkable. The costumes are as diversified as the stars in the sky, ranging from the stock, slightly faded ones which bedeck the ladies and gentlemen of the chorus, to some strikingly handsome ones worn by the prima donna of the evening, Miss Munsel.

Competent if Unremarkable

Musically, the opera receives equally competent and equally unremarkable treatment. Juliette. like Verdi's Violetta, is one of those difficult roles requiring a dramatic voice which, in outbursts of joy, can maneuver coloratura passages. Miss Munsel, at this point in her career, cannot quite fill the assignment. Her voice is thin, birdlike and somewhat trembly when forced. Unfortunately the many dramatic moments in the opera require a good, strong tone and Miss Munsel's vocal equipment was not quite sufficient for the task. The glittering coloratura passagework in the first act "Je veux vivre" seemed much more suitable to her voice and proved her biggest musical success of the evening.

For a relatively inexperienced actress, Miss Munsel made a remarkably convincing Juliette as far as dramatics were concerned. She created an impression of youthful innocence which was charming, and, in the final scene in the tomb, stabbed herself and died in appropriately tragic fashion.

Mr. Jobin last night continued to maintain his invaluable position as a mainstay of the French wing of the company. There are few singers at the Metropolitan who sing with such authoritative style and who approach the interpretation of a role with such care. His vocal production is excellent and, despite an occasional shouted high note, tonally grateful.

Singher Is Superb

Another such singer is Mr. Singher, whose Mercutio was probably the only performance last night which was visually, as well as vocally, superb. His singing of the Queen Mab ballad was a miracle of deftness and, in the heavier moments such as the duel scene, he deported himself with grace and dignity. Mr. Singher, in other words, is an unusual artist.

Many of the performances in the minor roles were excellent and Mr. Hayward's debut as Tybalt augurs well for his future with the company. Miss Kaskas' Gertrude was sympathetic, Mr. Moscona's Friar Laurent was reserved and dignified and Miss Greer's Stephano was pleasing.

Mr. Cooper kept the performance moving at a satisfactory pace and, after some difficulties with the [first] scene, kept the company well in hand. Particularly effective was his direction of the closing scene, which brought the opera to a suitably impassioned close.



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