[Met Performance] CID:150880
La Bohème {433} Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri: 5/21/1949.


St. Louis, Missouri
May 21, 1949


Mimì....................Bidú Sayao
Rodolfo.................Giuseppe Di Stefano
Musetta.................Mimi Benzell [Last performance]
Marcello................Frank Valentino
Schaunard...............George Cehanovsky
Colline.................Nicola Moscona
Benoit..................Lorenzo Alvary
Alcindoro...............Lorenzo Alvary
Parpignol...............Paul Franke
Sergeant................John Baker

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

Review of Thomas B. Sherman in a St. Louis newspaper (unidentified)


Stefano, Sayao 'Brilliant' in Roles - 8300 Witness Performance at Auditorium

The Metropolitan Opera Company brought its brief St. Louis engagement to a close last night at the Kiehl Auditorium, with a lyrically affecting performance of Puccini's "La Boheme." This sentimental commentary on life and love in the Latin Quarter was a highly suitable vehicle for the two starring principals, Giuseppe Di Stefano and Bidu Sayao.

Mr. Stefano is a newcomer to the Metropolitan community and, one must assume, a highly welcome recruit, for he brought the golden touch of youth to the role of Rodolfo and showed, as well, that he had the perception and instincts of the born dramatic artist. The voice was ideal for this particular role - being warm, flexible and not too heavy in texture and at the same time capable of a bright, trumpet-like brilliance and projection. As might have been expected Mr. Stefano caught the ears of the audience with the "narrative." aria in the first act, It was a wonderful vocal showing, all right, but he took so many liberties with the tempo that it lost something of its breadth. He was stricter in his observance of musical values as he went along.
Miss Sayao, of course, is still one of the prize lyric sopranos in the Metropolitan and Mimi - as she demonstrated last night - is one of her most deftly created roles. In vocal inflection, gesture and posture she invested the character of the fragile midinette with a pervading tenderness. Her success is making her voice reflect personality, mood and even changing circumstances compensated for its unevenness of quality. And her absorption in her role made her rhythmic liberties in the first act, for she too offended a little in that respect, understandable. But her "Adidio" in the third act was unexceptionable. It was beautifully turned and shaded and charged with pathos.

A good supporting cast included Nicola Moscona, a stage-wise veteran and an able singer who played the role of Colline, Francesco Valentino, a satisfactory Marcello and George Cehanovsky and Paul Franke who were acceptable in smaller parts, and Lorezno Alvary who did two characters successfully. Mimi Benzell, a very pretty Musetta, did not have a voice with enough stamina,

The performance was conducted by Giuseppe Antonicelll and the results of his alert generalship were generally satisfactory. He was able to get a fine, elegant continuity of line only sporadically and he let his principal singers have their heads too much in the matter of modifying tempos and extending the time values of notes. The production, as a whole however, had plenty of animation and atmosphere even though the big crowd scene at the Cafe Momus did not have enough brightness by a good deal. The first and fourth act set, altering an arrangement which has been traditional for a long long time, was imaginative and the lighting used helped considerably in creating an appropriate atmosphere.

An audience of 8300 attended the performance. The management of the St. Louis Symphony Society which sponsored the series announced that a profit would be realized and that the Spring Opera engagement could be considered an established feature of the city's musical life.

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