[Met Performance] CID:153620
Tosca {296} Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia: 04/24/1950.


Atlanta, Georgia
Fox Theatre
April 24, 1950

TOSCA {296}

Tosca...................Ljuba Welitsch
Cavaradossi.............Ferruccio Tagliavini
Scarpia.................John Brownlee
Sacristan...............Gerhard Pechner
Spoletta................Alessio De Paolis
Angelotti...............Lorenzo Alvary
Sciarrone...............George Cehanovsky
Shepherd................Thelma Altman
Jailer..................Lawrence Davidson

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

Review of Howell Jones in the Atlanta Constitution

"Tosca" Wins Hearts, Welitsch Is Sensation

Tagliavini And Brownlee Share In Grand Performance

One of the best all-around productions of Grand Opera presented by the Metropolitan Opera Association during its modern series in Atlanta was staged last night for a glittering first-night audience at the Fox Theater. Puccini's three-act tragedy, "La Tosca," the curtain-raiser for the 1950 season, kept the full-house audience starry-eyed throughout with its easy-moving drama, lyrical and beautifully phrased music, and the singing of a trio of top stars. Many old-time operagoers in the huge crowd talked of the almost perfect staging of the spectacular first act, comparing it favorably with other performances of the same opera here over the years.

One of the outstanding things about last night's "Tosca" was the introduction to Atlanta audiences of a red-haired bombshell from Bulgaria, who burst with such terrific force that people here will be talking about it for a long time. Singing and acting the title role to perfection, Ljuba Welitch, the new Met soprano sensation, captured her listeners at the [first act] curtain, held them spellbound through her dramatic second act aria, "Vissi d'arte," then carried their hearts with her as she plunged over the castle parapet to end the opera.

She stopped the show with the beloved second act aria. Frenzied applause and shouts of "brava!" filled the auditorium when she had finished. The demonstration lasted almost two minutes. A diva in the old tradition - slightly plump - Miss Welitch is possessor of a beautiful voice with wide range and excellent projection. In addition, she is a real actress.

Keeping pace with the prima donna were Tenor Ferruccio Tagliavini and Baritone John Brownlee, both already favorites of Atlantans. Tagliavini, singing the role of Cavaradossi, the painter, slowed the show noticeably in the last act with the aria "E lucevan le stelle." The ovation for him almost equaled the one staged earlier for Miss Welitch. The Italian tenor also won an enthusiastic ovation for his singing of the well-known aria "Recondite armonia," in the [first] act. Brownlee, one of the top actors of the Met, gave an unusually good performance throughout. His second act aria, "Se la giurata fede," was done well, but it lacked sufficient power to project the highly dramatic climaxes to best advantage.

The dramatic continuity of the Puccini work was a thing of beauty. The action moved smoothly always and the story unfolded with clarity. Dino Yannopoulos was stage director. Choral-singing in the opera added greatly to the audience's appreciation, particularly at the conclusion of the first act with the inspiring religious scene outside the Church of St. Andrea della Valle in Rome. Giving the singers flawless support throughout and providing background was the Metropolitan orchestra under the direction of Giuseppe Antonicelli.

Stage settings and scenery for the entire opera were good, but the setting for the final act, outside the castle, was by far the best. The backdrop, on which a likeness of St. Peter's Cathedral was painted, seemed real. Others in the cast included Lorenzo Alvary as Angelotti; Gerhard Pechner as the sacristan; Alessio De Paolis as Spoletta; George Cehanovsky as Sciarrone; Lawrence Davidson as a jailer, and Thelma Altman as a shepherd.

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