[Met Performance] CID:1450
Lucia di Lammermoor {4} Boston Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts: 12/27/1883.


Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Theatre
December 27, 1883


Lucia...................Marcella Sembrich
Edgardo.................Italo Campanini
Enrico..................Giuseppe Del Puente
Raimondo................Achille Augier
Normanno................Amadeo Grazzi
Alisa...................Imogene Forti
Arturo..................Vincenzo Fornaris

Review in the Evening Transcript:



The opera for the second night of Mr. Abbey's company at the Boston Theatre was Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor." Of the few lyric dramas among the sixty odd by Donizetti that still hold places in the affections of singers and the public, "Lucia" is the most popular. Its abundance of melody and its exciting climaxes have had much to do with this popularity, but even these delights may not save a performance from becoming wearisome to the regular operagoer upon whom the work has palled from sheer repetition, if there be not at least one singer strong enough to give the hearer a sensation. Such a singer appeared last night in the person of Mme. Marcella Sembrich, who sang the part of the unhappy and demented Bride of Lammermoor. Mme. Sembrich's reputation had preceded her from New York. But before she had enlisted under Mr. Abbey's banner she had become famous throughout a good part of Europe, the outposts of the operatic field, London, Madrid and St. Petersburg having been visited and captured by her. Mme. Sembrich has a voice of very rare quality. It is strong, resonant, and brilliant, such a voice as would be tremendously effective in parts that require a dramatic rather than a fluent style, such for example, as that of Lurezia in "Lucrezia Borgia." The first impressions made as she began "Regnava nel silenzio" were of positive wealth of tone and warmth of manner. These impressions did not disappear when later she exhibited her powers as an executant. But the wonder was that a voice having the peculiar vibratory, nervous quality which long custom has taught us to believe is absolutely essential in singers who hope to command our emotions, should also be as flexible, as clear and true as a voice, the owner of which expects to startle with brilliant effects, need be. And so it was that these varied and rarely associated qualities and attributes being found in Mme. Sembrich's voice and singing, the most jaded listener experienced a new sensation. There was hardly a feat of vocalism that she did not execute. Her runs, whether "legato" or "semi-staccato," were wonderfully clean, and, most satisfactory of all, her ear appeared to be faithful to its duty. Her voice is of a wide range, its upper limit being at least as high as D in alt, and it gave the impression of evenness as well. With all these charming characteristics one need not have been astonished that the audience surrendered almost before her first aria was finished. After that the chain was riveted with each succeeding performance, until, at the conclusion of the mad scene, she executed a cadenza in staccato with a sureness that set the house in a frenzy. The enthusiasm, in fact, was greater than at any time of the [first] night, although the audience must have been at least twenty-five percent less in number, and Mme. Sembrich was recalled five times in constant succession. After all this triumph, honestly and deservedly won - for Mme. Sembrich appears to be an artist with a conscience as well as with intelligence and ambition - it may sound like fault finding to say that, after reflection, one felt that she had much yet to learn. But the qualities which the closely critical listener may note as lacking are such as can hardly fail to be hers with experience. It was observable last night, for example, that a smooth delivery of cantabile passages was not common, and that often a movement was given with unnecessary fervor. Excuses for these blemishes, reasons, if you will, may have been found in the peculiar circumstances of the occasion - the excitement of a first night before a strange audience being the most influential of these. Mme. Sembrich's acting was of a conventional operatic pattern, but it never offended by any awkwardness.

Signor Campanini again showed that some of the brilliancy of his voice had faded out, but he had the rare good sense to sing in "mezza voce," on many occasions, and thus saved his hearers from the discomfort that would have been theirs, had he failed of his purpose to sing with all of his former power. Signor Del Puente sung with great force, but always with dignity and refinement. The minor parts were also very well done. The large chorus was instrumental in producing an overpowering effect in the sextet, "Chi mi frena." It was again made evident that the orchestra is more successful in producing quantity, than quality, of tone. The playing last night was generally accurate, but often one would have been willing to part with some of the players if thereby a finer grain might have been given to the volume of sound. Signor Vianesi's impetuosity - not a fault in itself, but an attribute that needs a restraining hand at moments - again led him to accelerate the time in long crescendo movements and towards every finale.

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