[Met Performance] CID:1520
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {3} Boston Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts: 01/2/1884.


Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Theatre
January 2, 1884


Figaro..................Giuseppe Del Puente
Rosina..................Marcella Sembrich
Count Almaviva..........Roberto Stagno
Dr. Bartolo.............Baldassare Corsini
Don Basilio.............Giovanni Mirabella
Berta...................Emily Lablache
Fiorello................Ludovico Contini
Sergeant................Amadeo Grazzi

Conductor...............Auguste Vianesi

[In the Lesson Scene Sembrich sang Deh torna mio bene (Proch) and Someday (Wellings), and at the end of the opera she interpolated "Ah non giunge" from La Sonnambula.]

Review in the Boston Evening Transcript


The house was packed, and Mme. Sembrich's singing wrought the audience up to a pitch of enthusiasm which we have not seen equaled here since the audience in Tremont Temple sprang to its feet like one man at Wachtel's high C in "Di quella pira" some years ago. Yet, Rosina is not a part which shows Mme. Sembrich's talent in quite so fine a light as Amina. Wonderful as this singer's roulades and fioriture are, we still find her singing of expressive cantilena finer and more thoroughly artistic. Yet, the public at large does not seem to think so, for although almost all she does is loudly applauded, her staccato flourishes are the things that work most electrically upon the audience. Mme. Sembrich's singing of brilliant passages is by no means incomparable in perfection of finish. We have heard such things more neatly done by other singers, Ilma de Murska, Gerster, not to mention Adelina and Carlotta Patti. But what makes Mme. Sembrich's colorature singing so electric and exciting is its facility, its brilliancy, and above all, its daring audacity. Indeed, excepting Adelina Patti, we have never heard a singer dare so much; of the other singers we have names, not one would venture to throw so much reckless energy into long and complicated vocal passages. Her impersonation of Rosina was bright and intelligent throughout; it was an exceedingly clever idea of hers, in the music-lesson scene, after she had sung her brace of show songs, and had seated herself at the pianoforte with Almaviva at the back of the stage, to keep up a series of "gruppetti," trills and other vocal exercises, sung "sotto voce" as a sort of running accompaniment to the recitative dialogue between Dottore Bartolo and Figaro which was going on in the foreground. These little flourishes always in perfect harmony with the orchestral accompaniment to the dialogue were not only delightful in themselves, but served to keep up the illusion of the music lesson. As for the extra songs she sang, according to time-honored custom, in the scene, we should have preferred almost anything to Proch's "Variations," and that too, too trite "Some Day!" (Beautifully sung as they were). But perhaps Mme. Sembrich in making these selections had merely an eye to dramatic fitness, and wished fully to justify Bartolo's remark after her songs, "Certo, bella voce ma quest' aria, cospetto! E assai mojoso." (Fine voice certainly! But this song, by Jove, is as tiresome as can be.) Ending the opera with Bellini's "Ah! non giunge" was needless, but the audience positively shrieked with delight at it. Signor Stagno made a personable Almaviva, and sang the florid music of the part with rare ease, cleanness and finish, but in a painful "sotto voce" almost throughout, and with not always pleasant variety of production of tone.

We know no way of describing Signor Stagno's manner of singing but to say that he habitually swallows his own voice. His half audible, if generally finished and graceful singing would have been well calculated to inspire one with pity, had he not shown what he really could do, by coming out with super brilliancy on a single phrase in the last scene; which sudden outburst made one rather suspect that he had been "playing possum" all the while. We can only conclude that Signor Stagno is either afflicted with some malady of the throat which makes it desirable for him to give his voice as much rest as is compatible with singing at all, or else that he does not think it worth his while to favor the Boston public with more than a quarter of his voice. In the former case we can only suggest to him that the public stage is not the best place in the world to pursue a course of medical treatment on; in the latter contingency, of course Signor Stagno is the best judge of what is worth his while and what is not. Signor Corsini's Dottore Bartolo was delicious as ever. Signor Del Puente made a vivacious and agreeable Figaro, singing wholly well and acting with easy grace in intelligence, albeit that the "vis comica" is not precisely his strongest point. Signor Mirabella's Don Basilio kept swaying from one side to the other of that delicately drawn line which separates the very good from the very bad. By fits and starts he was truly capital, only to be thoroughly atrocious the next moment. A little more judgment and an avoidance of "tremolo" would have made his Don Basilio quite masterly. Mme. Lablache was quiet excellent in the small part of Berta, and narrowly escaped an encore for her song.

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