[Met Performance] CID:152900
Don Giovanni {146} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/17/1950.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 17, 1950


Don Giovanni............Paul Schöffler
Donna Anna..............Ljuba Welitsch
Don Ottavio.............Jan Peerce
Donna Elvira............Regina Resnik
Leporello...............Salvatore Baccaloni
Zerlina.................Patrice Munsel
Masetto.................Mack Harrell
Commendatore............Nicola Moscona

Conductor...............Fritz Reiner

Review of Cecil Smith in Musical America

The first repetition of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" had little of the ésprit that distinguished the revival on Feb. 3. Ljuba Welitch, whose Donna Anna had been the center of attention on the earlier occasion, proved for the first time in her Metropolitan career that she, too, is fallible, and can experience an off night. She did not sing particularly well at any time, though her voice did not lack its fabulous clarity and carrying power. She left the music largely uninflected and uncolored, singing monotonously on a single plane of intensity; and her negotiation of the coloratura toward the close of 'Non mi dir' was distinctly less than triumphant. In the general letdown of her performance, she also failed to clarify her attitude toward Donna Anna as a dramatic character, so that this observer, at least, was left without much information as to her convictions about the place of that lady in the scheme of the plot.

Paul Schoeffler's portrayal of Don Giovanni was supremely confident in both musicianship and stage assurance. But he also, like Miss Welitch, maintained a single level of delivery, overlooking a good many possibilities of insinuation and underplaying on the one hand, and of ebullience and bravura on the other. He seemed a phlegmatic, businesslike fellow, with hardly the allurement to sweep little Zerlina and the two great ladies off their feet.

The richest performance of the evening was that of Regina Resnik, as Donna Elvira. Both her singing and her action were plastic, variable, sensitive, and mobile. Except for a few strained full-voice high notes, her singing was exemplary, in both broad phrases and fleet figurations. It was, moreover, intensely personal and genuine. Miss Resnik is becoming a singing actress of unusual perceptions.

Jan Peerce negotiated his two difficult arias successfully, taking only one more breath than the law allows in 'Il mio tesoro,' and maintaining an attractive flow of tone. Nicola Moscona intoned the music of the statue with great nobility, and negotiated a thoroughly dignified appearance in the final scene. Patrice Munsel's Zerlina was vocally pretty, but without a reality as a characterization. Mack Harrell's Masetto was well-intentioned but studied. Salvatore Baccaloni's Leporello was strongly projected, but his conception of the servant in the terms of Italian opera buffa does not fit into the serious conception of Herbert Graf's stage direction. Fritz Reiner conducted with a pacing that was always expert, but without much warmth.

All things considered, it was a chilly and disaffecting evening, which was not helped by the unwonted liberty some of the principals took of acknowledging applause with repeated bows. At one point a traffic policeman was needed to straighten things out between Miss Welitch and Mr. Peerce, as the soprano kept returning from the wings to accept more applause while the uncomfortable tenor waited for a chance to begin 'Dalla sua pace.' Has the outgoing managerial regime decided to permit once again, in its last weeks, the bowings and scrapings at the end of arias that have for so long been happily exorcised.

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