[Met Performance] CID:15770
Aida {25} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/16/1895.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 16, 1895


AIDA {25}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Lillian Nordica
Radamès.................Jean de Reszke
Amneris.................Marie Brema
Amonasro................Victor Maurel
Ramfis..................Edouard de Reszke
King....................Vittorio Arimondi
Messenger...............Roberto Vanni
Priestess...............Mathilde Bauermeister

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

Director................William Parry

Aida received eleven performances this season.


Review of Reginald De Koven in The New York World

I do not see how the cast of "Aida" as sung at the Metropolitan last night could well have been improved upon. If so, I should like to know where the singers are to come from. It may be stagy, it may be gaudy and garish in parts, it certainly is not Wagner, though in a certain sense modeled after him, but "Aida" is vastly pictorial, stirringly dramatic, emotional and melodic, and though it may be old-fashioned to do so, I confess to enjoying every moment of it, and wish that modern operatic composers were less Wagnerian and more Verdiesque, as opera-going would than be more of a pastime and less of an intellectual function.

When future operatic progress and development in the way indicated by "La Navarraise" shall have caused pure melody to be as much tabooed by the then composers, as was the pernicious and subversive diminished seventh by the early classicists, some musical antiquarian will with score and derision turn over the pages of "Aida" and say: "Why, that was melody from beginning to end!" Or perhaps in a contrary sense it will be the score of "La Navarraise" that will be so treated, I hope so for my part.

One of the most brilliant and enthusiastic audiences of the season applauded to the echo last night a performance that, vocally at least, came as near perfection as any one many expect to get in the world of care and trouble. And, marvelous to say, in Italian opera, it was as well acted as it was sung.

Knowing of old the absolute excellence of the impersonations of Mme. Nordica as Aida, M. Edouard de Reszke as Ramfis, and M. Jean de Reszke who sang the role here in 1892 with Mme. Lilli Lehmann-I was most interest in the first appearances here of M. Maurel as Amonasro, Mlle. Brema as Amneris and Sig. Arimondi as the King. All of them were eminently successful.

I think M. Maurel all the greater artist because of the vocal limitations-less evident last night than usual-which one must perforce recognize. His Amonasro was a rather dramatic creation; a real person, strong, forcible, convincing, presented vocally and dramatically with the finish, the authority, the temperamental energy which mark the great artist. Not less good was Mlle. Brema; to me the best thing she has done yet. Her appearance was a picture which vied in truthfulness of detail with the hieroglyphics on the wall. Her singing showed that she was familiar with the tradition of the bel canto, and her action was marked by an enthusiasm, emotional force and sincerity as admirable as usual. I never have seen this role better, if as well, rendered.

I think Sig. Arimondi is the coming bass. His presence is magnificent, and his method were as good as his voice which vies in richness and sonority with even that of Edourad de Reszke would be surpassing. As it is he is thoroughly first class, and he will certainly be heard from later. In appearance and stature he strongly suggests M. Edouard de Reszke being even larger and taller. Evidently weight tells in these matters.

I thought at first last night that Rhadames was going to be a trifle too robusto a role for M. Jean de Reszke, as during the earlier scenes he seemed to sing with some effort, though his voice sounded full and strong. But he was reserving himself as it turned out and to some purpose for in the third act and thereafter he was fairly magnificent. His high notes rolled out, splendid in quality and volume and thrilling in effect, and used as ever with consummate art. Rhadames is not perhaps the best role in Jean de Reszke's repertory, but in it last night he once more proved himself the first lyric and dramatic tenor of his day and time.

Though I think Mme. Nordica one of the very best Aidas I have ever seen and the role perhaps her best, I have heard her sing it on the whole, better than she did last night. In the "Oh, Patria Mia" her voice sounded a little forced, and some of her high notes had not their usual sweetness, but apart from this her impersonation was picturesque, forcible and genuinely dramatic as ever, and she fully deserved all the applause she received.

In fact, the epithet "great" might justly be applied to all the principal members of the cast. M. Edouard de Reszke was sonorous, impressive and effective as ever, although his opportunities as Ramfis are somewhat limited. Mlle. Bauermeister as the Priestess, and Sig. Vanni completed a cast which was certainly notable and which ought to make "Aida" a principal drawing card for the remainder of the season.

Sig. Beviginani conducted with great spirit and energy and fully deserved the call he received after the splendid ensemble of the second act. Barring certain usual accidents to the trumpets on the stage I neither wish nor expect to hear "Aida" better given.



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