[Met Performance] CID:1590
Carmen {3} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/9/1884.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 9, 1884
In Italian


CARMEN {3}

Carmen..................Zelia Trebelli
Don José................Italo Campanini
Micaela.................Alwina Valleria
Escamillo...............Giuseppe Del Puente
Frasquita...............Ida Corani
Mercédès................Louise Lablache
Remendado...............Amadeo Grazzi
Dancaïre................Baldassare Corsini
Zuniga..................Achille Augier
Moralès.................Ludovico Contini
Dance...................Malvina Cavalazzi

Conductor...............Cleofonte Campanini

Director................Mr. Corani
Director................Mr. Abbiati
Set Designer............Charles Fox, Jr.
Set Designer............William Schaeffer
Set Designer............Gaspar Maeder
Set Designer............Mr. Thompson
Costume Designer........D. Ascoli
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian

Giuseppe Del Puente repeated the Toreador Song


Review by Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune:

That Mme. Trebelli would sing the music of the part with fine artistic finish was a foregone conclusion; that she subjected the dramatic elements of it to original and intelligent study she made plain early in the performance. In realizing her conception however, she did not always give the hightest degree of satisfaction. She throws a lurid light over its wickedness, but finds neither tones nor actions for those amiable qualities in which most of the artistic force of the character lies. Her aim seems to be to make Carmen a beautiful demon, and she leaves no room for either the light heartedness of the gypsy girl or the capacity which she has for tender attachment. Now Carmen does love Don José-for a little while; otherwise her seduction of him is wanton wickedness. The tragic element in the character takes possession of it early, and the feeling which follows it through the third and fourth acts has nothing of sympathy in it. For this reason it might be argued that there was more wholesomeness in its moral lesson than that of our familiar Carmen, but Bizet's opera is not one that suggests an inquiry into moral values; we are quite content to be charmed by so beautiful a girl though she is a gypsy cigarette-maker, who wears a dagger in her corset and uses it freely upon her companions. The hardness which Mme. Trebelli gives the character fits it admirabley after the scene in which she learns her fate from the cards and so grimly and characteristically accpets it. From that moment its power grows. But it needs lightness and grace in the earlier moments. Signor Campanini was in bad voice, but acted with telling fervor. His exhibition of the growth of his passion and the wreck of his manhood was the most powerful piece of acting that has been seen on the lyric stage this season. Signor Del Puente was the Escamillo of old, and Mlles. Corani and Lablache were efficient gypsies. The vocal success of the opera was Mme. Valleria, who sang beautifully throughout and did her best to save a performance which was almost fatally hurt by poor singing and acting in the subordinate parts and wretched stage management. The opera was handsomely set.


From the review in The New York Times:

The representation of "Carmen" at the Metropolitan Opera-house last evening rather disappointed expectation, and but for Signor Campanini's portrayal of Don Jose, would not have stirred the pulses of the audience....Many representations at the Metropolitan, which would have produced a favorable impression in another establishment have failed to please because of the size and chilliness of the auditorium. Last night's rendering of Bizet's pretty and effective work would undoubtedly have fared better had it been given elsewhere. It was not, however, a brilliant achievement....Signor Del Puente's voice scarcely filled the Metropolitan as it did the Academy; and the labors of the chorus and orchestra, though earnest, were in many instances misdirected, and [productive] of unfinished and unimpressive results. ...Mme. Trebelli... was not exactly successful. It was impossible not to compare her delineation of Carmen with Mme. Hauk's, for it was undoubtedly modeled on the creation-in the Italian version-of the German-American songstress. Mme. Hauk, who seldom distinguished herself in other roles-unquestionably presented a very vivid and real picture of Jose's mistress. It was vulgar in tone, but it was powerful and lifelike. Carmen, as sketched by the librettist, is vulgar-that is to say, as vulgar as an operatic personage can be. Mme. Hauk's portrayal was repulsive to just this extent; it was also magnetic, and consequently, telling. Mme. Trebelli's Carmen is intelligent and inoffensive, but nothing more. Last night the singer was disagreeably self-conscious, and much of the music was sung straight to the audience. This ad captandum may be borne with in comic opera, but in a performance in which a dramatic story is unrolled...the actor should give no sign of knowledge that an assemblage is gathered before him. Vocally Mme. Trebelli's personation was respectable. She was in good form and the highest and lowest tones of her organ sounded well, even in the vast auditorium. Her execution was musicianly, but her style-histrionically as well as lyrically-was decidedly hard...we can understand that her steady services as an artist should have endeared her to the London public, but find it less easy to discover the grounds upon which her great reputation in England has rested... the achievements of the orchestra rarely rose above mediocrity. The scenery and dresses were fresh and beautiful.



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