[Met Performance] CID:15700
Faust {90} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/9/1895.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 9, 1895


FAUST {90}

Faust...................Jean de Reszke
Marguerite..............Lillian Nordica
Méphistophélès..........Edouard de Reszke
Valentin................Victor Maurel
Siebel..................Rosa Olitzka
Marthe..................Mathilde Bauermeister
Wagner..................Lodovico Viviani

Conductor...............Enrico Bevignani


Review of Reginald De Koven in The New York World:

Twice-told tale though it be, I always enjoy "Faust," especially when as superlatively well sung as it was last night. "Faust" is, to my mind, a perfect model of what an opera in the proper sense of the term should be, and when enjoying its frankly melodic measures I always wonder why the modern operatic composer, in stead of trying to emulate Wagner and his impossible music-drama, does not rather model after Gounod and give us genuine legitimate opera.

Though not Wagnerian, "Faust" is modern enough in style and treatment not to grow old even to ears attuned to the turbulent passion and yearning intensity of "Tristan." Wagnerism has become in these days a plausible excuse for lack of melody among composers, and were any composer with a genuine gift of spontaneous melody now to appear, and with another "Faust," or at least an opera built on similar lines, he would be universally acclaimed.

Mme. Nordica was the Marguerite last night, and appeared to much better advantage in the part than she did when I last heard her, two year ago. Her action has gained in repose and naturalness, and while the dramatic intensity of the music of a role like Isolde seems to suit her quality of voice better than Gounod's flowing, florid measures, she sang with excellent taste and effect. I especially liked her unaffected and appropriate action in the "Jewel" song, and her church scene was legitimately dramatic. Perhaps an ideal Marguerite should be a little more spontaneous and less maturely considered, but severe strictures on Mme. Nordica's very artistic impersonation would be hypercriticism.

M. Jean de Reszke's voice was in admirable condition last night, and he sang superbly. It is said that Faust is not one of his favorite roles. It should be, for it is one of his very best, to my thinking. Romantic, poetic; in manner and bearing he is an ideal Faust just as he is an ideal Romeo - or Tristan, for that matter. But even with such a Faust, as Mephistopheles M. Edouard de Reszke dominates every scene in which he appears. One respects - nay, more - admires such a princely, genial, sardonically humorous Satan, he is so essentially modern, suggestive and symbolic.

M. Maurel was in far better voice last night than he has been before this season, and as Valentine gave one of those picturesque, highly colored and absolutely finished dramatic characterizations for which he is justly famous. His death scene was admirable, and I had far rather hear the "Dio Possente" sung as he sang it than rendered by an artists with possibly more voice but without his exquisite finish and convincing intelligence of method.

Mlle. Olitzka as Siebel, Mlle. Bauermeister - of course - as Martha and Sig. Viviani as Wagner completed a cast which was as much deserving of the name of ideal as many that have preceded it under that title.

Sig. Bevignani conducted in capital style, and the performance moved more on wheels throughout. The audience was large and properly enthusiastic. Such a performance of "Faust" will always draw, and so long as it does the management need not from their standpoint worry greatly about the production of more modern and probably less interesting novelties.



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