[Met Performance] CID:1430
Rigoletto {3} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/24/1883.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 24, 1883

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Giuseppe Del Puente
Gilda...................Marcella Sembrich
Duke of Mantua..........Roberto Stagno
Maddalena...............Sofia Scalchi
Sparafucile.............Franco Novara
Monterone...............Achille Augier
Borsa...................Amadeo Grazzi
Marullo.................Ludovico Contini
Count Ceprano...........Baldassare Corsini
Countess Ceprano........Miss Genetti [Last performance]
Giovanna................Imogene Forti
Page....................Grace Goldini

Conductor...............Auguste Vianesi

Roberto Stagno repeated "La donna mobile"
The quartet was repeated

Review in The New York Times (probably W. J. Henderson):

"Rigoletto" was represented at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening in presence of an audience which included a great many persons who had evidently never attended an operatic performance before, and by a few persons - those occupying boxes - who, out of consideration for people who care to listen to the singers and band, ought never to attend an operatic performance again. Verdi's popular and highly dramatic work was exceedingly well sung, but was acted in a perfunctory fashion, to which it is hoped the public will not grow accustomed. There were moments, indeed, when Mme. Sembrich's facile and brilliant execution, and Signor Stagno's high tones and unusual "staying power" elicited considerable applause, but, while the vocal music was given tastefully and correctly, the performers literally walked though their parts with a genteel placidity which would have been quite in keeping with the requirements of the coolest Robertsonian comedy. Whether Signor Stagno's "habitual calmness" as an actor gave the keynote to which the whole representation last night was attuned is a question which need not be discussed in this place. Suffice it to say that even Signor Del Puente succumbed to the contagion, and presented a picture of the King's jester in which pathos and power were only conspicuous by their absence. The music, as already mentioned, was sung with precision, and, in the "ad capiandum" parts, with excellent effect. Signor Stagno, to whose throat emission and lack of accent and light and shade it will require more than one season to reconcile, the local opera-goer, phrased his numbers with much elegance, and by this high tones and ability to dwell upon a note for an inordinate length of time, won applause and an occasional encore. Of feeling Signor Stagno threw little or none into his performance; his attitude and delivery during the pretty duet "E il sol dell'amima" were as well fitted to Othello addressing the Senate as to Gilda's lover, all aflame with passion. To Mme. Sembrich's qualities and defects attention has already been called. She pleased, as Gilda, by almost the same methods as Signor Stagno, though, of course, the tenor's voice is not to be compared with the brilliant and flexible organ of the soprano. Still, it was a disappointment to listen to "Caro nome" by Mme. Sembrich; here execution of the lovely aria on the occasion we write of was technically perfect, but so unvarying in its cold clearness and dynamic force as to leave the connoisseur wholly unmoved. Signor Del Puente's Rigoletto is a familiar effort. Yesterday he exerted himself rather less than usual. Signor Novara was a respectable Sparafucile, and Mme. Scalchi's tremendous voice endowed Maddalena's few measures in the last act with an almost weird eloquence. The quartet was capitally rendered and was redemanded, as was, by the way, "La donna e mobile," the most praiseworthy of Signor Stagno's achievements. Both chorus and orchestra were in good form. Last evening's performance was somewhat notable in one respect. It brought to an end the Fall and Winter season at the Metropolitan, ffor the two representations which will be given week after next, though included in the 80 for which subscriptions have been received, are of a supplementary character.

  During the nine weeks which have gone by since the Metropolitan was opened, much hard work and some creditable work has been done. Fourteen operas have been produced, the list including "Don Giovanni," "Il Barbiere," "Lucia," "I Puritani," "Rigoletto," "La Traviata," "II Trovatore," "Roberto," "Faust," "Mignon," "La Sonnambula," "Mefistofele," "Lohengrin," and "La Gioconda." "Faust" has been represented six times and "Lohengrin" four times, while the remainder of the list have come in for one or two hearings apiece. The performances, as might have been anticipated, have been of miscellaneous merit. Some of the works have been brought forth without a single full rehearsal, and we doubt if any one has been accorded the requisite time for preparation. American audiences bear no kinship to Italian audiences, who are content to witness three operas during an entire "stagione." and a repertoire had to be gotten up at any sacrifice. It is consoling to think that the best fruits of the managerial efforts are not wholly lost to the local public, and that finished representations of the operas which were hurriedly made ready during the Fall may be confidently looked for in the Spring. Only one novelty has graced the bills since the Metropolitan has been in existence. Reference is made to "La Gioconda," which was given with much scenic splendor on Thursday evening last. We are not aware that a better choice could have been made, for Ponchielli's opera is the "latest European success," and this success is what everybody was anxious to become acquainted with. On the other hand, it may fairly he surmised that the novelty will not hold its own as a useful element of the repertoire. "La Gioconda," in truth, is a lurid Italian melodrama, set to beautifully written but not particularly original or ear-catching music by a musician who thoroughly understood his business when he summoned the poet and dramatist Boito to his aid. We question even if a more powerful representative of the heroine than Mme. Christine Nilsson approved herself could establish the story and score in popular favor. "La Gioconda." as implied, is a play with music to color and intensify its scenes; it can only impress an assemblage who can follow every word as well as every note of the opera Mme. Nilsson, as we have said, was not at her best in "La Gioconda." This artist has no tendency, apparently, to broaden into a "prima donna dramatica" of the modern Italian school and, while her voice has undergone some modification, her talent as an actress, most distinct and admirable in such characters as Violetta, Ophelia, and Margarita, has remained unchanged. The prima donna's attractiveness is seemingly as potent as ever, and Mme. Nilsson and Signor Campanini have been the only magnets of which the management of the Metropolitan can boast. Neither the newness of the house, nor the prestige of new names in the personnel have done for the season what Mme. Nilsson and Signor Campanini have done - such extraordinarily large audiences as have been drawn to the up-town theatre have been drawn solely by these two performers. After the first few nights interest in the establishment itself was on the wane. The Metropolitan is too large, and its acoustic qualities are unsatisfactory. Thus, besides, the lack of preparation which, as hinted, lessened the impressiveness of many representations, the dimensions and defects of the auditorium have militated against the general appreciation of the performances. In a smaller and better built establishment the effect wrought by many a singer would have been very different. Mme. Nilsson and Signor Campanini, however, have triumphed over every obstacle; it would be flattery to say that time has passed without touching them, if ever so gently, with its wing, but their art is still so consummate and their gifts so great that the newcomers, accomplished and famed as some of them are, have suffered by comparison. The Metropolitan has been blessed, too, in respect of contraltos. Mme. Scalchi, though heard to rather less advantage than last year, when the cooperation of Mme. Patti added largely, by contrast, to the impressiveness of her work, has lost none of her popularity. It can be predicted with safety that the present generation will not again listen to a voice of similar resonance or volume, or to an artist who can use it with happier results. Mme. Trebelli has had too few opportunities of appearing to establish herself as a favorite, but, should the chance be vouchsafed here, there is little doubt as to her success. We have said above all that need be said of Mme. Sembrich: this lady is a very valuable accession to Mr. Abbey's forces, but a songstress whose tones lack sympathetic quality -the touch of nature that makes the whole world kin-and one whose mastery of art is not yet so complete as to dazzle and deceive a critical assemblage. Among the men, as set forth, Signor Campanini has been the mainstay of the Metropolitan. Signor Stagno has disappointed expectation, and so has Signor Kaschmann - rough and a robust baritone - while M. Capoul, whose slender voice of the past appears to have come down to the present through a telephone, and Signor Del Puente and Novara are old and more or less prized acquaintances. A great deal of labor has gone through with by Signori Vianesi and Campanini, the two conductors; this, too, will tell better during the Spring season, when artists, chorus, and band will have a fairer hearing than they have had thus far - possibly to the reversal of some rather severe judgments.

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