[Met Performance] CID:143730
Die Entführung aus dem Serail {3} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/18/1947., Broadcast


Metropolitan Opera House
January 18, 1947 Matinee Broadcast
In English


Constanze...............Eleanor Steber
Belmonte................Charles Kullman
Blonde..................Pierrette Alarie
Pedrillo................John Garris
Osmin...................Dezsö Ernster
Selim...................William Hargrave
Mute....................Ludwig Burgstaller

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

Review of Virgil Thomson in the Herald Tribune

Just Getting Set

Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio" was given yesterday afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera House its third performance of the season and its third performance ever by the resident troupe of that house. It is natural, the work being new to local repertory and unfamiliar to many of the singers, that the present performance should be a little lacking in assurance still. It will take some time for the show to settle into a routine comparable for the style with that of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" or "Figaro," as given by the same company. Musically the performance is more than pleasant under the lively leadership of Emil Cooper, but it still lacks the polish that only repetition can give. And dramatically it is far from satisfactory.

The musical comedy with long patches of spoken exposition is not an easy dramatic work to produce or to act in. The plot of it, for instance, is so silly and the dialogue so lacking in wit that only the most skillful and outrageous clowning can lend interest to the passages that lie between the musical numbers. It needs a W. C. Fields or a Baccaloni, at least, to make anything but infantile comedy out of the role of Osmin. The present production being played in English, Mr. Baccaloni was not considered adequate, I presume, for verbal clarity. Deszo Ernster did his best with the part, but he was far more satisfactory in his bass arias and in the vocal set-pieces than as a speaking clown.

Eleanor Steber and Pierrette Alarie, musically charming in the female roles, lacked distinction both as romantic heroine and as soubrette. And Charles Kullman, as the romantic lover was heavy, both vocally and dramatically, for the part. John Garris, who sang the servant Pedrillo yesterday, sang and acted with an easy charm that lightened the tension of the whole performance. And William Hargrave in the speaking role of the Pasha was thoroughly elegant.

Whether this cast, or any other English-speaking one that the Metropolitan can provide, will ever be able to play this absurd piece in a genuinely funny manner is doubtful. Nevertheless, they are all good singers; and they give a performance of Mozart's immortal music that is far from commonplace. None of them is quite at home with the music yet, but fullness of expression in music at once so rich emotionally and technically so difficult is not to be expected from any artist in three performances. The concerted pieces are already harmonious; and the whole musical rendering is one capable of taking on refinement, of growing, through repetition, into a carrying power commensurate with the beauty suggested in the written score.

The sets and costumes of Donald Oenslager are all new and very shiny. Chinese, Indian, Persian and near-East motifs have been assembled into an oriental amalgam that lacks the wit to justify such an eclectic procedure. The crowding of all these elements together has been accomplished with considerable skill, however, and the architectural layout of the sets would make them no end fun to play in if anybody in the cast were capable of having fun in the roles. Maybe that will come when the musical execution, which is after all the chief thing, gets firmly set and polished. Meanwhile, it is pleasure to hear the lovely music.

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