[Met Performance] CID:167130
Andrea Chénier {58} Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 11/23/1954.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 23, 1954


Andrea Chénier..........Mario Del Monaco
Maddalena...............Zinka Milanov
Carlo Gérard............Leonard Warren
Bersi...................Rosalind Elias
Countess di Coigny......Hertha Glaz
Abbé....................Gabor Carelli
Fléville................George Cehanovsky
L'Incredibile...........Alessio De Paolis
Roucher.................Frank Valentino
Mathieu.................Lorenzo Alvary
Madelon.................Nell Rankin
Dumas...................Osie Hawkins
Fouquier Tinville.......Norman Scott
Schmidt.................Lawrence Davidson
Major-domo..............Louis Sgarro

Conductor...............Fausto Cleva

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Bulletin

The Met's New 'Chenier' Applauded At Academy

The Metropolitan Opera Association opened its1954-55 season of six operas at the Academy of Music last night with a bang. Umberto Giordano's veristic opera, "Andrea Chenier," was presented before a brilliant capacity audience. Mario Del Monaco, Zinka Milanov and Leonard Warren formed a trio of stars in the principal roles and the conductor was Fausto Cieva.

"Andrea Chenier" had not been given here by the Metropolitan since November 25, 1930, when Beniamino Gigli, Rosa Ponselle and Mario Basiola were heard in principal roles. George Cehanovsky, who sang Fleville last night, was the only singer in the large cast who had also appeared on that other evening 24 years ago.

Giordano's Best

"Andrea Chenier" is one of the Metropolitan's two new productions this year, and it proved a huge success. Although the Philadelphia Civic Company presented it here two years ago, Giordano's best opera came as a novelty to most of last night's audience and the prevailing emotion in the theater was one of surprise to find the opera so effective.

This is really no news to dyed- in-the-wool opera fans, for Giordano had an uncanny feeling for the theater and was able to express this gift in often telling terms. The opera abounds in rafter-shaking duets, arias and ensembles superimposed on a background of the French Revolution at high tide. The composer's orchestration is refined and effective and his writing for the voice makes use of facile, far-flung melodies and strong declamatory style.

The opera was presented in new settings and costumes by Broadway designer Frederick Fox. These were elaborately effective, often massive, and evocative of this bloody period in the world's history. Apparently, Mr. Fox's scenery was not easy to manipulate, resulting in intermissions that totaled one hour and a half.

As to the singers, Mr. Del Monaco returns to America this year a greatly improved singer, His Chenier was the opera's central figure, as it should be. This strong-voiced tenor of the brilliant high notes created an atmosphere of such vibrance in his first act. "Improviso," that the house broke into that type of sustained applause which knows no counterfeit.

Poet of Revolution

Strikingly handsome and assured, Del Monaco has the largeness of utterance and the sincere conviction that cannot fail but hold an audience. Furthermore, his is the type of voice which, if it doesn't exactly caress the ear, can send successions of small chills up and down one's spine. Mr. Del Monaco has a native dignity as an actor and his Chenier seemed indeed the idealistic, amorous and unfortunate young poet of the Revolution.

Flanking the central character were Zinka Milanov's Maddalena di Coigny and Leonard Warren's Charles Gerard. Mme. Milanov's sumptuous voice was lovely to hear last night. She was least effective in her one extended solo, "La mamma morta," and most thrilling in the two tumultuous duets with Mr. Del Monaco. Leonard Warren made a real character out of Charles Gerard, acting the role better than any he has essayed here. The only thing one might desire of this excellent singer is more bite in some of the climaxes, notably the final bars of his big aria, "Lin di m'era di gioia."

Audience Cheers

Outstanding in smaller roles were Nell Rankin as the old woman Madelon and Alessio de Paolis' Incredibile. Also admirable were Rosalind Elias, Lorenzo Alvary, Frank Valentino, Norman Scott, Herta Glaz, Lawrence Davidson, Osie Hawkins, Louis Sgarro and Gabor Carelli in character vignettes that all added to the total effect.

Mr. Cleva conducted with brilliance and energy. Sometimes one might have desired a more flexible attitude toward the singers, but Mr. Cleva never drowned them out, which is an easy temptation in this colorfully orchestrated opera. The final duet - one of the most thrilling moments in all grand opera if presented in the grand style - found the audience cheering Mme. Milanov and Mr. Del Monaco, who gave themselves to the moment without any reservations.

Mario Del Monaco in the title role of Andrea Chénier.
Leonard Warren as Carlo Gérard and Zinka Milanov as Maddalena.
Photos by Mark Hagmann.

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