[Met Performance] CID:17720
Carmen {90} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/11/1896.

(Debut: Thomas Salignac

Metropolitan Opera House
December 11, 1896

Bizet-Meilhac/L. Halévy

Carmen..................Emma Calvé
Don José................Thomas Salignac [Debut]
Micaela.................Emma Eames
Escamillo...............Jean Lassalle
Frasquita...............Mathilde Bauermeister
Mercédès................Marie Van Cauteren
Remendado...............Igenio Corsi
Dancaïre................Armand Castelmary
Zuniga..................Maurice Devries
Moralès.................Jacques Bars
Dance...................Martha Irmler

Conductor...............Enrico Bevignani

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

Carmen received twenty performances this season.

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


Mme. Calvé Makes Her Reappearance in Her Famous Impersonation.

Mme. Emma Calvé made her reappearance at the Metropolitan Opera House last night in her familiar and unfamiliar impersonation of Carmen, a gypsy. The auditorium of the house was crowded with a throng of eager, expectant persons who welcomed the great dramatic soprano with hearty demonstrations of pleasure and who listened to the performance with the closest interest. There, were not many notable outbreaks of applause in the course of the music, because people are learning that they spoil their own pleasure when they interrupt the flow of the composer's melody; but at the close of each act there was an outpouring of approval which could not be mistaken. A performance such as that of last night suggests many different lines of comment, but perhaps no conclusion can be more directly drawn from it than that expressed once by Jean de Reszke, when he said: "It takes more than a pretty girl with a pretty voice to make success in America; here one must sing."

It is the purely dramatic in opera that carries this public with it now, and that is why "Carmen," a true music-drama if ever there was one outside of the Wagner list, (and there are several,) when interpreted in a dramatic manner, always attracts a large audience. It would be an easy matter to turn "Carmen" into a mere exhibition of pretty singing, and the melodious beauty of its music would still have a charm for many. But to make the opera a musical force dramatic interpretation is necessary, and it is of this that Mme. Calvé is a queen.

Last night she was in splendid spirits, for the enthusiasm of her welcome, as shown by the size of the, audience, was enough to fill any singer with joy. Never has she interpreted Carmen with a greater variety of delicate and subtle nuances of dramatic expression. Her voice, her face, her poses, her gestures were all parts of a delicious, flexible scale of expression. There was the sparkle of champagne in her comedy and the fire of absinthe in her tragedy. She swept the gamut of passion with a free hand, and she made her audience vibrate like the chords of a big Eolian harp. And she sang with an exquisite art that does not get half the appreciation it deserves, for a large number of her hearers labor under the delusion that they are moved by her acting. But Calvé's finest dramatic instrument is her voice, which thrills and glows with wooing love or glittering like cold steel with anger as she wills. Her performance last night was that of a genius.

Salignac, who made his debut as Don José, is a French opera comique tenor, with the methods of that school. He is not a man of large physique or prepossessing appearance, and lacks the force and volume of voice necessary for the Metropolitan Opera House. His phrasing is somewhat short, but he sings with taste and feeling. In the second act last night, he acquitted himself with much credit, singing the flower romanza very musically indeed. Mme. Eames has sung Micaela so often that no extended comment is necessary. It is sufficient to say that she was in fine voice and that she sang beautifully and looked a picture. For the information of those who are interested in the private squabbles of singers, it may be said that Mme. Calvé and Mme. Eames appeared to be on the friendliest terms, and there were no evidences of the hard feeling with which they parted two years ago.

M. Lasalle was in very poor voice, and his delivery of the popular Toreador song was tame and impotent. Special commendation should be given to M. Jacques Bars for an excellent performance of the small and usually neglected part of Morales. The other members of the cast were M. De Vries, M. Castelmary, Signor Corsi, Mme. Bauermeister and Mme. Van Cauteren. Signor Bevignani conducted.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).