[Met Performance] CID:183370
Pelléas et Mélisande {54} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/2/1959.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 2, 1959


Pelléas.................Theodor Uppman
Mélisande...............Victoria de los Angeles
Golaud..................George London
Arkel...................Giorgio Tozzi
Geneviève...............Regina Resnik
Yniold..................Mildred Allen
Physician...............Clifford Harvuot

Conductor...............Jean Morel

Director................Dino Yannopoulos
Designer................Horace Armistead

Pelléas et Mélisande received six performances this season.

Review of Robert Sabin in the January 1, 1960 issue of Musical America

Dec. 2.-In our blatant, vulgar, half-educated modern world an exquisite masterpiece like Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande" is not likely to be widely understood or treasured. It evokes a world of shadows and symbols, and it is the quintessence of understatement. Never did a composer leave more to the imagination, and never with more delicacy, beauty, and subtlety.

Debussy has set the French language so that each word, each phrase is literally a jewel. Such things as Arkel's long speech to Mélisande beginning: "Maintenant que le père de Pelléas est sauvé" are true miracles of verbal and musical weaving. And the harmonic palette of this incomparable score (which owes so much to Wagner's "Parsifal") is something for genuine epicures. The more one enjoys and studies it, the more one discovers of the art that conceals art, of that seeming simplicity which is achieved only by consummate craftsmen.

Fortunately, the Metropolitan had a lovely Mélisande for this welcome revival of the opera, which had not been given since 1954. Victoria de los Angeles is one of the few artists about who can sing French with both beauty and clarity, and in the last act she creates one of the most marvelous death scenes in anyone's operatic experience. She has gotten deeper into the role, dramatically, since her last appearance in it here. Who could ever forget that unaccompanied phrase, "Mes longs cheveux descendent jusqu'au seuil de la tour!" as she spins its silver web into the spaces of the Metropolitan?

Theodor Uppman has improved as Pelléas both dramatically and vocally. He is more at ease in the role, more poetic, and he handles his problems in the top range more discreetly.

All of the other artists were new to their roles at the Metropolitan, and all were good, though none so refined in diction as Miss de los Angeles. Giorgio Tozzi was a lovable and venerable King Arkel, and he brought tears to our eyes with that phrase, worthy of Shakespeare: "Si j'étais Dieu, j'aurais pitié du coeur des hommes . . ."

Dramatically superb and vocally powerful, the Golaud of George London added another to the gallery of impressive portraits that this artist has created at the Metropolitan. Regina Resnik was a sympathetic Genevieve, and Mildred Allen a remarkably boyish Yniold, who was also vocally expert. Clifford Harvuot also created a living figure as the Physician.

Jean Morel, who conducted the work for the first time at the Metropolitan, achieved a delicate and emotionally evocative performance. The rudeness and insensitivity of American audiences to works like "Pelléas" is a cross to the performers as well as to those who really love and understand and respect the music, but muchmore of the Interludes could be heard than formerly.

The weakest element in this revival was the staging of Dino Yannopoulos, which included some painfully artificial poses in the Tower Scene, some odd passages on the floor, and other unnecessarily awkward details. After all, one does not have to fly in the face of common sense, just because one wishes to eschew realism.

But musically, there was much to delight us in this revival of a work that will always remain unique-a blending of speech and song of a kind that may never again be attempted in quite the same way

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