[Met Performance] CID:144040
La Bohème {400} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/18/1947.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 18, 1947


Mimì....................Dorothy Kirsten
Rodolfo.................Ferruccio Tagliavini
Musetta.................Frances Greer
Marcello................Frank Valentino
Schaunard...............Hugh Thompson
Colline.................Giacomo Vaghi
Benoit..................Gerhard Pechner
Alcindoro...............Gerhard Pechner
Parpignol...............Lodovico Oliviero
Sergeant................John Baker

Conductor...............Pietro Cimara

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Tagliavini Makes Local Debut in Metropolitan's 'Boheme'

A performance of "La Boheme," which began poorly and ended with poignant and moving effect, served the Metropolitan Opera Association to introduce the new and widely-heralded Italian tenor Ferruccio Tagliavini at the Academy of Music last night. A capacity house waited in tense expectancy to hear the short, plump little Italian about whom so much had drifted recently to us from New York. It is a pleasure to welcome this artist, who should prove a valuable addition to the Metropolitan. Tenors of ability are not to be sneezed at these days.

Mr. Tagliavini revealed a voice of considerable more volume than one had been led to believe. It is from no angle a great voice in the sense that the voices of Caruso, Martinelli and Gigli were. It is a fine lyric instrument that is obviously being used in a more dramatic and heroic fashion than nature ever intended. The result is that some of Mr. Tagliavini's tones are hard and open, and his highest notes have an unpleasant, pushed quality. The high B of the first act "Narrative" (which was normally rather than ecstatically received) was not a thing of beauty. Neither was the tenor's backstage B at the close of the act. This is not the type of vocal sound that generates enthusiasm in the listener. In fact, these important climaxes were distinctly forced.

Mr. Tagliavini has an appealing use of mezza-voce, which seems unrelated to the rest of his voice. With this device he sang some distinctly affecting phrases which were both musical and sensitive. The new tenor improved as the opera progressed and by the third act was beginning to justify some of the reports that had preceded him. His fourth act was the best, with a beautifully sung "O Mimi to piu" and a genuinely moving finale.

Not only Mr. Tagliavini, but the entire production improved as the opera moved toward its very touching close. Dorothy Kirsten, who sang Mimi, presented a properly fragile and timid portrait of the little Parisian seamstress. Miss Kirsten sings very well indeed. Her voice is clear and easily heard in all registers. It is not a voice of particular warmth or beauty of timbre, and it lacks body and proper support in its climax notes, which is always a pity in a Puccini opera. Nevertheless the soprano's middle and upper-middle registers are capable of producing some very pure and beautiful effects which resulted in an unusually eloquent death-scene.

Francesco Valentino and Frances Greer were the familiar Marcello and Musettea, the baritone being in excellent voice, while Miss Greer acted and sounded like most Musettas. Giacomo Vaghi's rich bass voice won him a small ovation after the "Vecchia Zimarra," which was beautifully realized, while in Hugh Thompson the Metropolitan has its best Schaunard in this reviewer's memory. Mr. Thompson's likeable personality, freedom on the stage and resonantly-produced voice contributed no little to the evening's better moments.

Gerhard Pechner substituted for Salvatore Baccaloni in the two fragments of Benoit and Alcindoro, and proved altogether admirable. Pietro Cimara kept an excellent balance between singers and orchestra - often not the case in a Puccini opera - but he was not always together with the forces on the stage.

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