[Met Performance] CID:150580
Mignon {106} Matinee ed. Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas: 04/23/1949.


State Fair Auditorium
Dallas, Texas
April 23, 1949 Matinee

MIGNON {106}

Mignon..................Risë Stevens
Wilhelm Meister.........Giuseppe Di Stefano
Philine.................Patrice Munsel
Lothario................Jerome Hines
Frédéric................Jean Madeira
Laërte..................Leslie Chabay
Jarno...................Osie Hawkins
Antonio.................Lawrence Davidson
Dance...................Alfred Corvino
Dance...................William Murrill
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Leon Varkas

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

Review of John Rosenfeld in the Dallas Morning News:

Matinee Throng Hears "Mignon" and Two Divas

Whatever the banalities of Ambroise Thomas' "Mignon," it is decidedly useful to a Metropolitan Opera tour through the land where banalities are not necessarily hackneyed. Of principal roles there are several and they can be as interesting as the singers make them. As oases of delectable familiarity there are Mignon's "Connais-tu le Pays," Philine's Polanaise and Frederic's Gavotte. Mignon's "Styrienne" and the graceful duet, "Legeres Hirondelles," are accessible and tuneful surprises.

The Saturday matinee audience at State Fair Auditorium, exceeding capacity and including many men with their women and children, heard "Mignon" with evident delight. It was a sound rather than brilliant, performance with youth and young voices rather than age and seasoned-virtuosity. Wilfred Pelletier conducted with grace and without hurry or, for that matter, without much incisiveness.


The most exciting singing was done by Giuseppe Di Stefano, one year older and several pounds more substantial than when he sang Des Grieux here last season within the first few months of his American arrival. At twenty-seven the young Italian tenor has not yet matured artistically, but he shows increasing volume and more expressiveness and definite gains in security and authority. Mr. Di Stefano is the most promising of the postwar tenors of his school with a voice of bright color, flexibility and easily soaring range. If pasta and antipasto don't get him, he is a romantically personable figure.

As Carre and Barbier's opera comique version of a Goethe hero Wilhelm Meister, he sang and acted, sympathetically. Rise Stevens, one of the bona fide divas of the company was a mature, hearty and competent Mignon. Her vocalism was evener than in previous appearances here. She sang the Styrienne with abundant verve; in fact she sang everything well except the "Connais-tu le Pays," which had curious want of color and sincerity.

The baby coloratura, Patrice Munsel, did not measure in size and deportment to the coquetries of Philine, the sophisticated actress, although she went through the motions with routine. The Polonaise, "Je Suis Titania," was, of course, the reason she was there and she won a mighty hand for it. his stop-action show-piece was negotiated cleanly and the voice sounded less breathy than when we last heard it. Miss Munsel's ovation went to her discretion, as well as her talent, for she closed the number with a daring, penultimate transposition.

Jean Browning-Madeira, a young mezzo, was much legs and many knees in the male costume of Frederic, who was a decidedly pettish youth in her impersonation. Her voice was darkly rich and she sang admirably.


Still on the tentative side but well-endowed was the Lothario of the young Jerome Hines, American basso. The voice is a noble one, not yet suave and unclouded, but commanding and capable of eloquence. Leslie Chabay, the tenor, was entertaining with vocal and pantomimic antics as Laerte, replacing John Garris. Osie Hawkins and Lawrence Davidson were heard in small roles.

The gypsy dance of Act I was opera balletics of a superior class, thanks to Marina Svetlova, a dainty and technically resourceful ballerina. She was assisted by Leon Varkas, among others, and the whole corps directed by Boris Romanoff.

If one prefers, attendance at "Mignon" can be used as credit for the observance of this year's Goethe Bicentennial. Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister" is the source of the story, but the French librettists made certain to strip it of philosophical import. It is merely a mid-nineteenth century theatrical stencil colored by the life of most such parties, gypsies.


Ambroise Thomas' score is journeyman music with phraseological contours and approaches to other problems showing a dependence on Gounod of "Faust" fame. Never great music, "Mignon" has been successful lyric theater for its entire existence. The Soudeikine settings were inoffensive except for the baronial boudoir, which looked rather vintage.

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