[Met Performance] CID:146800
Cavalleria Rusticana {333}
Pagliacci {372}
Metropolitan Opera House: 01/21/1948.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 21, 1948


CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA {333}

Santuzza................Stella Roman
Turiddu.................Mario Berini
Lola....................Martha Lipton
Alfio...................John Brownlee
Mamma Lucia.............Claramae Turner

Conductor...............Giuseppe Antonicelli


PAGLIACCI {372}

Nedda...................Licia Albanese
Canio...................Kurt Baum
Tonio...................Frank Valentino
Silvio..................Hugh Thompson
Beppe...................Leslie Chabay

Conductor...............Giuseppe Antonicelli

Review of Cecil Smith in Musical America

In each opera a tenor singing his role for the first time at the Metropolitan gave a dash of novelty to the third presentation of the benefit bill, a non-subscription benefit for St. Barnabas House of the New York Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society. Mario Berini, scheduled to appear as Turiddu Dec. 19, but forced by illness to yield to Frederick Jagel, was finally able to give his account of the part. Kurt Baum, so probable a candidate for success in "Pagliacci" that it was surprising he had not sung in it before, was the Canio.

Mr. Berini made a passable but unsensational Turiddu, acting the part stiffly but singing with some degree of passion. His top tones were usually pinched and small, however, and his production tended to sound throaty in the lower extreme of his range. Mr. Baum's Canio was vocalized with superb ease, and needed only a more dynamic rhythmic impetus to be altogether stirring. His high B in the phrase, "A ventitrč ore," rang out brilliantly and the "Vesti la giubba" carried a genuine impact. But his acting was so sterile as to rob the part of much of its visual persuasion - especially the stock attitudinizing and staggering he used to fill up the orchestral postlude after the "Vesti la giubba."

Stella Roman returned to the role of Santuzza with a vocal conception vastly changed and reanimated since she last sang it here in 1944. After a period of trying uncertainty she has now nearly finished remaking her top voice; it sounded larger and freer, yet she still retained her admirable half voice. Many phrases - notably the outcry, "Io son dannata," immediately after the "Voi lo sapete" - were tonally extraordinarily beautiful and dramatically telling. The lower octave of her voice still presented a problem to her, although part of the time she produced a good body of sound and kept the tone from wobbling. All in all, her Santuzza has a new breadth of style, though in the "Voi lo sapete" and some other passages she sang very slowly, as though she were concerned with the mechanics of vocalism. John Brownlee, stepping into the role of Alfio at the last moment in place of Francesco Valentino - who was transferred to "Pagliacci" when Giuseppe Valdengo fell ill - obviously had not expected to sing the part, and did not know it well. Martha Lipton as Lola and Claramae Turner as Mamma Lucia completed the "Cavalleria Rusticana" cast skillfully.

In "Pagliacci," Licia Albanese sang Nedda expertly, projecting the "Bird Song" with clean intonation and a rousing climax. Mr. Valentino's Tonio was handsomely sung and effectively acted. The others in a capable cast were Leslie Chabay as Beppe and Hugh. Thompson as Silvio. Giuseppe Antonicelli conducted with greater flexibility than he showed in these operas before, saving "Cavalleria" from disaster when both Mr. Brownlee and Mr. Berini made mistakes and when Miss Roman dragged the tempo.



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