[Met Performance] CID:17950
Faust {113} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/4/1897.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 4, 1897


FAUST {113}

Faust...................Jean de Reszke
Marguerite..............Emma Calvé
Méphistophélès..........Edouard de Reszke
Valentin................Mario Ancona
Siebel..................Eugenia Mantelli
Marthe..................Mathilde Bauermeister
Wagner..................Lodovico Viviani

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

Unsigned review in The New York Times (W. J. Henderson?)

Calvé as Marguerite - A Most Interesting Performance

"Faust" always seems to possess sufficient fascination to attract crowded audiences whenever it is performed, no matter how often it may be set before the public. But now that we have three prime donne, each charming in her way, yet differing as widely as sea and sky and earth are diverse, how many more changes may be rung in the renderings! The management would be justified at present in giving Gounod's masterpiece three times for every single former presentation, since no true lover of the composition would fail to insist upon seeing the varying delineations of these great artists. No change was made in the general cast given frequently already during this season. Jean and Edouard de Reszke, Ancona, Mme. Mantelli, Banermeister, with Mancinelli in the conductor's seat. We are familiar with all this; the one point of novelty provocative of intense interest and curiosity was, last evening, Mme. Calve's first appearance in this country in the role of Marguerite.

Those who had become acquainted with her strong outlining of Carmen, Santuzza, and Navarraise were able in some degree to formulate what sort of a portraiture she would bring to the elucidation of the character of Goethe's heroine, and those who knew her musical renderings in " L'Amico Fritz," "Hamlet," and "Les Pêchenrs de Perles," did not doubt that vocally the lovely Marguerite would be more than acceptable. As a matter of fact, Calvé was not in her best voice last evening, and should properly not have strict judgment passed upon her singing, as she was evidently laboring under some difficulty that prevented perfect freedom in the emission of voice. As mere vocalism, her apostrophe to the night from her window in the garden scene was the best of all moments. We must except every portion, both of the church scene and of Valentine's death, from the suggestion given above of evident effort on Calve's part, for wherever dramatic declamation was required her acting and singing were so absolutely joined, so perfectly matched that nothing was lacking to make an entirely well-balanced artistic whole. Time fails to go into the minutiae of Calvé's originalities or to do justice to the highly intellectual and deeply heartfelt impersonation she gives to Marguerite. As with every one of the rôles this gifted actress has presented to the public, this is stamped with the seal of wonderful individuality. One sees in her work the broad mind that grasps great truths and fundamental emotions and which grows the leaves and flowers of small details in action from the roots and innermost springs of human feeling. Calvé shows extraordinary judgment, too, and a fine reserve; and while she dearly loves to please her audience, yet she undoubtedly loves her art for its own sake more, as she loses herself so completely in every character she assumes. Her Marguerite is one to study, to see very often. She has made a number of effects entirely new, entirely original, and most engrossing and touching to witness. Such is the episode of her swooning at the end of the church scene, and recovering when raised by one of her " neighbors." In her dazed condition she at first thinks this woman is the friend who has so tormented her, and, shrieking, tries to push her away; but seeing instantly her mistake, with that warm, affectionate nature that Calvé makes it plain Marguerite possesses, the poor girl flings her arms around her ministering friend and sobs upon her breast. This is all so primeval in its strength and sincerity that tears are bidden for woes thus honestly depicted and rush forth from every sensitive eye.

The dramatic portion of Calvé's work was so exceedingly strong that it may have over-clouded the purely musical. Or it may be that we are used to having the role used as a vehicle to show off brilliant singing and raise the glitter of this when the vocal part is in some sense overshadowed by the weight of such a tragic view of the situation as Calvé gives. The large audience was much impressed and extremely enthusiastic by the work of the prima donna.



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