[Met Performance] CID:147990
Manon {163} Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 05/10/1948.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
May 10, 1948


MANON {163}

Manon...................Bidú Sayao
Des Grieux..............Giuseppe Di Stefano
Lescaut.................Martial Singher
Count des Grieux........Ezio Pinza
Guillot.................Alessio De Paolis
Brétigny................George Cehanovsky
Poussette...............Frances Greer
Javotte.................Maxine Stellman
Rosette.................Claramae Turner
Innkeeper...............Melchiorre Luise
Guard...................Anthony Marlowe
Guard...................John Baker
Maid....................May Savage
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Audrey Keane
Dance...................Fiala Mraz [Last performance]
Dance...................Ilona Murai [Last performance]
Dance...................Nina Boneck
Dance...................Tilda Morse
Dance...................Laura Novak [Last performance]
Dance...................Peggy Smithers
Dance...................Leon Varkas

Conductor...............Wilfred Pelletier


Review of Arthur Loesser in the Cleveland Press

Hails Performance of Sayao in "Manon" as Highly Impressive

The [beginning] of the Metropolitan Opera season last night was a festive occasion as always. The audience filled the Public Hall virtually to capacity, was in a state of pleasant elation, and seemed as much interested in itself as in the show.

Massenet's "Manon" was the offering, the performance was excellent both as whole and it its details. Wilfred Pelletier's experienced baton directed a flow of music and action that was brisk in tempo and cogent in continuity.

Massenet's music still has wide appeal. No amount of modern stimulants and sophistication can wean large multitudes of people away from the enjoyment of the suave, sentimental, coquettish kind of melody that he provides.

The action of "Manon" is laid 200 years ago, and in the third act the composer's deliberate introduction of a saraband, a minute and a gavotte somewhat in the idiom of the 18th Century give this opera an element of variety not afforded by some of his other works.

Bidu Sayao, in the title role, played and sang her part triumphantly for all that it was worth. Her voice is properly light for negotiating the many rapid high notes of her lines, and the halls's PA system, improved over last years, saw to it that there was no deficiency of volume.

Very impressive was the intelligence with which she interpreted the various phases of the ill-fated Manon's career; the flirtatious ingénue of the first act, the affectionate mistress of the second, the self-assured courtesan of the third; the shady, desperate gambler of the fourth, and the abject convict of the last.

It was a highly distinguished piece of character portraiture on the part of an artist of superior skill.

Giuseppe di Stefano presented the part of Des Grieux, the heroine's affectionate but spiritually not very robust lover. The tenor was substituted for James Melton, originally announced for the role, but who was indisposed.

However, di Stefano's singing was of such a kind that there were many listeners who did not regret the substitution at all.

His voice was of a particularly warm smoothness, and the long drawn-out tender taperings of his softer notes were a most effective element of his performance.

Of course, the "Dream" piece in the second act received the most applause, partly because of its familiarity, but there were many other strains, notably his monologue in the church scene, that he delivered with equal expressiveness and conviction.

The final duet of the principals was most skillfully handled and left little to be desired.

Of the minor roles, the chief one to be mentioned is that of Count Des Grieux, taken by the incomparable Ezio Pinza. There is not much singing in it, but the authority and the hauteur with which the famous artist delivered it made it noteworthy.

Martial Singher did a handsome piece of work with the part of Lescaut; Frances Greer, Maxine Stellman and Claramae Turner acted the trio of light ladies with pert precision. Alessio de Paolis as the absurd Guillot, George Cehanovsky as De Bretingy, Melchiorre Luise as the Innkeeper all acquitted themselves well.

The ballet in the third act with garlands was pretty.



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