[Met Performance] CID:170620
Faust {539} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/16/1956.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 16, 1956

FAUST {539}

Faust...................Giuseppe Di Stefano
Marguerite..............Nadine Conner
Méphistophélès..........Jerome Hines
Valentin................Clifford Harvuot
Siebel..................Rosalind Elias
Marthe..................Thelma Votipka
Wagner..................Lawrence Davidson
Dance...................Jean Lee Schoch

Conductor...............Kurt Adler

Review of Robert Sabin in the February 1, 1956 issue of Musical America

There have been so many times this season when I have had to comment sadly on the gradual deterioration of the Metropolitan's new productions that I am doubly delighted to wave my hat in salutation to this performance of "Faust," which was fully as good, if not better, than the first performances, two years ago. It was so spirited, so excitingly sung and so expertly conducted that Gounod's tinsel glittered like gold and the still sensuous and bewitching love music was deeply moving. Kurt Adler, conducting the work for the first time this season in this fourth performance, wisely followed Pierre Monteux's sage example in his choice of tempos and general treatment of the music, but he contributed a certain elan and profile of his own.

It was the season's first performance of the role of Marguerite by Nadine Conner, and by far the best I have ever heard her give. Miss Conner's voice has a jewel-like gleam, a purity and smoothness that are ideal for this role and it inspires her to acting of a depth and variety that are especially gratifying in an artist who has hitherto concerned herself mainly with singing beautifully. In the church scene and in the final scene she brought us a living Marguerite, shaken by terror, half-crazed by sorrow and, at the last, transfigured. The sequences in the trio, instead of sounding mechanical, as they usually do, were thrilling as her voice soared through them.

Hines as Mephistopheles

Equally inspired was the splendid performance of the role of Mephistopheles by Jerome Hines, who has emerged in the last few years into full maturity as an artist. He has always had a superb voice, but his command of plastique, his ability to project subtle shades of character, his comprehension of style have been acquired through untiring study and practice. Less melodramatic, cruel and sulphurous than Chaliapin's characterization, his conception of the role had many points in common and brought back memories of the great Russian artist. Not for many years have I seen anyone get so much mischievous delight out of the passage-at-arms between Mephistopheles and Marthe in the Garden Scene, although some of Mr. Hines's best touches seemed to go over the heads of the audience, which listened with funereal respect.

Clifford Harvuot, appearing as Valentin for the first time this season, sang with a breadth and dramatic intensity that won him an ovation. In the title role, Giuseppe Di Stefano sang magnificently at times, less securely at others. He had the volume, the color and the virtuosity to sing the role excitingly and certain phrases were ravishing, but his acting was perfunctory and his French diction, outstandingly poor. (No one sang really good French). Rosalind Elias was a charming Siebel; and Thelma Votipka's Marthe was wonderfully substantial and convincing. Lawrence Davidson was a sturdy Wagner. Both ballet and chorus were in top form.

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