[Met Performance] CID:146020
Don Giovanni {132} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 11/11/1947.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 11, 1947


Don Giovanni............Ezio Pinza
Donna Anna..............Regina Resnik
Don Ottavio.............Charles Kullman
Donna Elvira............Polyna Stoska
Leporello...............Salvatore Baccaloni
Zerlina.................Nadine Conner
Masetto.................Mack Harrell
Commendatore............Jerome Hines

Conductor...............Max Rudolf

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

Classic "Don Giovanni" Opens 'Met' Season

Mozart's great "Don Giovanni" last night served the Metropolitan for the [start] of its 1947-48 season at the Academy of Music. The audience was very large but not very demonstrative.

Towering work of genius that it is, "Don Giovanni" makes a questionable [season start] choice. Such a classic, rigidly formal work is hardly in the light spirit of the traditional [first] night, and when it is given (as Mozart seems to be presented nowadays at the Metropolitan) with one intermission bisecting the work, it becomes, with all due respect, an endurance test. The audience sat through one hour and 35 minutes, was given a short breathing spell, then was whisked back for a second period which lasted one hour and 20 minutes.

The performance was not brilliant, but it was solid and conscientiously presented. Max Rudolf led the orchestra with a fine sense of the music's style and the instrumentation sounded flexible and transparent. The standard of the evening's vocalism was only so-so. There was little genuine beauty of sound, no phrases that were memorable or that would be treasured souvenirs in years to come.

Ezio Pinza was heard in his celebrated role of the profligate Spanish nobleman and, as far as this reviewer is concerned, he still misses certain phases of this complex character. To be sure there is animal magnetism, vitality and presence, but the ultimate distinction, the tres grand seigneur quality, is lacking. Mr. Pinza, very naturally, sang the role with better vocal quality ten years ago.

There was a debut which proved highly successful. This was Polyna Stoska, last seen here in Kurt Weill's "Street Scene," as Donna Elvira. Miss Stoska brought a handsome and gracious presence to the part and sang her music with full, resonant, if rather stiff and unyielding, tone. Nevertheless, she was a compelling figure, quite the dominating woman of the cast. Her singing furthermore had a real touch of authority.

Regina Resnik as Donna Anna is still an experiment. The whole thing is tentative. Certainly she is no Rosa Ponselle or Zinka Milanov. As a matter of fact, Mme. Milanov's beautiful voice was missed in this music, for really beautiful voices are essential for the complete revelation of Mozart's arias. Miss Resnik is sincere but her voice is apt to become hard in the upper register. There were also lapses of memory here and there, and a touch of nerves during the demanding "Non mi dir."

Charles Kullman, the evening's Ottavio, was not in good voice. His tones sounded very heavy and labored and his scales in "Il mio tesoro" were anything but accurate. Salvatore Baccaloni presented his familiar and unctuous Leporello, though the less said about his phrasing and intonation in the famous Catalogue Aria, the better.

Nadine Conner as Zerlina, Mack Harrell as Masetto, and Jerome Hines as the Commandatore, were among the evening's best elements. Miss Conner was a charming peasant girl and she sang very prettily and with excellent style, while Mr. Hines was a commanding figure and used broad and resonant tones which made a real effect in the supper scene.

And so we welcome the Metropolitan back with pleasure once more, for even with its various shortcomings, the company's evenings are among the choicest of the city's musical season.

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