[Met Performance] CID:164350
Pelléas et Mélisande {51} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/23/1953.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 23, 1953


PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE {51}

Pelléas.................Theodor Uppman
Mélisande...............Victoria de los Angeles
Golaud..................Martial Singher
Arkel...................Nicola Moscona
Geneviève...............Martha Lipton
Yniold..................Vilma Georgiou
Physician...............Luben Vichey

Conductor...............Pierre Monteux

Review of Jay Harrison in The New York Herald Tribune
Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande," presented last night at the Metropolitan Opera House, had as its central attraction a new Mélisande in the person of Victoria De Los Angeles. The Spanish soprano, who has never before sung the role, was a member of a cast which included Theodor Uppman as Pelléas; Nicola Moscona singing Arkel for the first time this season; Martial Singher as Golaud; Martha Lipton as Geneviéve, and Vilma Georgiou and Lubomir Vichegonov.

The role of Mélisande has, over the decades unfortunately garnered the reputation of being a part in which a glowing stage presence may aptly substitute for a glowing voice. To this theory Miss de los Angeles does not subscribe. Last night she actually sang Mélisande, and in doing it she gambled wildly and won.

Though it is not generally looked upon as such, the music of Mélisande is in every scene seeded with vocal traps. Declaim or intone it, and you open yourself to criticism regarding a lack of melodic understanding. Sing it operatically, and you run the risk of being attacked on the grounds of inaccurate pitch, poor projection or gritty enunciation. It is seemingly an insoluble problem though it need not be. And if ever the answer has been found at the Met, it was found last night by Miss De Los Angeles.

What the soprano did was simply to sing the notes, pitches and phrases in time, in tune, and in tempo. The natural and supreme beauty of her voice took care of the rest. As a result, her Mélisande was musically exact and vocally glorious. At moments here and there-and the fault was Mr. Monteux's-a miscalculated orchestral surge blanketed her softer tones; but when she was really heard, she was really worth hearing.

At present, naturally enough, there are aspects of Mélisande's character-one which is equally complex as Isolde's-that Miss De Los Angeles views indifferently. And in general she sang more to herself than she did, as a means of communication, to her fellows on the stage. But these were minor blemishes. A ravishing voice, an affecting personal quality of sweetness and warmth, and an impeccably detailed musical rendering were Miss De Los Angeles's contribution to the evening. When she whispered even so casual and loving a phrase as that underlying the words "Pélleas, Pélleas," it was enough to make this reviewer wish that that was his name.



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