[Met Performance] CID:17560
Roméo et Juliette {41} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/23/1896.

(Debut: Maria Belina
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 23, 1896


ROMÉO ET JULIETTE {41}
Gounod-Barbier/Carré

Roméo...................Jean de Reszke
Juliette................Nellie Melba
Frère Laurent...........Edouard de Reszke
Stéphano................Maria Belina [Debut]
Mercutio................Maurice Devries
Benvolio................Igenio Corsi
Gertrude................Mathilde Bauermeister
Capulet.................Pol Plançon
Tybalt..................Jacques Bars
Grégorio................Antonio De Vaschetti
Duke of Verona..........Armand Castelmary

Conductor...............Luigi Mancinelli

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

Roméo et Juliette received eight performances this season.

Review of W. J. Henderson in The New York Times

"ROMEO ET JULIETTE."

Mme. Melba in Bad Voice, but the Performance Excellent Nevertheless

The performance of "Romeo et Juliette" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night attracted an audience of uncommon size and luster of aspect. Perhaps the recent gentle request of the management that pretty heads might be uncovered had something to do with the appearance of house, but, at any rate, it is quite certain that the auditorium never presented a more picturesque appearance except on [first] night [of the season]. The performance had an atmosphere of gloom cast over it at the outset by the immediate discovery of the audience that Mme. Melba's lovely voice was in a most unhappy condition. She was suffering from an extremely bad attack of hoarseness. She had been struggling against it all day, but did not discover how bad it was till she had sung part of the first act. The difficulty under which she was laboring was apparent to her hearers as soon as she delivered her first phrases. The waltz song was naturally sung with veiled tone, and hence with very little brilliancy.

At the close of the first act, Stage Manager Parry appeared and made an apology for Mme. Melba. But it hardly seemed necessary when she reached the middle of the balcony scene, in which her subdued tone was quite in place. Her voice cleared considerably as she went on, but she was compelled to reserve much of its power during the evening. Nevertheless, she sang with great judgment and at times with charming effect, while at no time did she depart from that pleasing semblance of girlishness which is one of the principal fascinations of her Juliet.

Of M. de Reszke's Romeo much has been written, and much more might be, but no commentator could hope to find expressions of praise which will keep pace with its perennial freshness. Last night M. de Reszke was in fine voice, and it was impossible not to marvel at the wondrous perfection of an art which has preserved though so many years of arduous service the youthful bloom of the singer's tones. The quality of M. de Reszke's tone is one of the most convincing demonstrations of the worth of his method of voice-production. As for the grace and noble musical intelligence of his phrasing, the general significance of his style and the inspiring warmth of his expression, what can be said that has not been stereotyped? The man has the soul of an artist and an artist's complete expression of it. He sings the Romeo of Gounod and the Tristan of Wagner greatly. There is no greater achievement.

M. Edouard de Reszke's glorious bass voice was heard as heretofore in the music of Friar Laurence. It is not one of the noted basso's best parts, but it cannot repress his eminence. M. de Vries is more agreeable as Mercutio than he is in many of his parts, but it is not difficult to conceive of a more flexible and buoyant performance of the role. As Capulet M. Plançon is at all time admirable. His voice was in fine condition last night, and the audience was quick to appreciate the fact. M. Jacques Bars and Mlle. Brema were the new-comers in the cast. The former gave an unusually manly and well-sung interpretation of the role of Tybalt, and the latter sang prettily the one solo of Stephano. The orchestra was not always in the most perfect accord with the singers, but under the fine and warming guidance of Signor Mancinelli there was no serious mishaps. It was a pity that the chorus frequently wandered away from the pitch, but that is a way which choruses have had since there were invented.



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