[Met Performance] CID:1890
Carmen {7} Olympic Theater, St. Louis, Missouri: 02/7/1884.

(Review)


St. Louis, Missouri
Olympic Theater
February 7, 1884
In Italian


CARMEN {7}

Carmen..................Zelia Trebelli
Don José................Italo Campanini
Micaela.................Alwina Valleria
Escamillo...............Giuseppe Del Puente
Frasquita...............Ida Corani
Mercédès................Louise Lablache
Remendado...............Amadeo Grazzi
Dancaïre................Baldassare Corsini
Zuniga..................Ludovico Contini
Moralès.................Achille Augier
Dance...................Malvina Cavalazzi

Conductor...............Cleofonte Campanini

Director................Mr. Corani
Director................Mr. Abbiati
Set Designer............Charles Fox, Jr.
Set Designer............William Schaeffer
Set Designer............Gaspar Maeder
Set Designer............Mr. Thompson
Costume Designer........D. Ascoli
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian


Review in an unidentified St. Louis newspaper:

Grand Italian opera received another figurative black eye last night and even by scattering the sparse audience over the house failed to make much of a showing at the Olympic, while upstairs there were but few to scatter. It may have evoked numbers of managerial groans and gnashing of teeth, but all to no avail, and the excellent cast of "Carmen" did not answer to arouse the local music lovers from their phlegm or indifference. It is a pity - a very great pity - but it cannot be helped, and St. Louis will possibly be the sufferer in the long run. Poor support of such enterprises as for Mr. Abbey's simply means a possible elimination of St. Louis from future circuits. It is not a pleasant view to take of it, but it is an exceedingly probable issue. Taken as a whole, the cast was the most interesting of the week, and in a dramatic sense it was a grand one. The parts are all strong, and distinctive, and require artists of great dramatic power to fill them. Certainly but few operas have ever been acted in St. Louis as "Carmen" was acted last night. It is essentially a dramatic work and as such received a superb interpretation.

Comparisons are odious, but they can hardly be refrained from in alluding to Trebelli's assumption of the leading role. I need hardly say that I refer to the difference between the picture of the wanton, vicious gypsy and that of Mme. Minnie Hauck, who is so thoroughly identified with the part. The opera , its characters, its action and its music are all peculiar; it is different from all other lyric works, and its posthumous success is in keeping with the quaintness of the opera, its departure from set rules of composition and the …lack of concert between the soloists and orchestra, although the harmonies are never impaired. It seems a sort of mercy that the leading role never fell into the hands of Marie Roze, for whom Bizet wrote it which seems to be the accepted version of the story - for she was too refined and cool-tempered an artiste ever to have attempted it with success. She afterwards did do much with the part and rendered it admirably, but the copy had been set for her, and she could never have originated it so as to make it a prominent assumption. The refinement natural to her could not be wholly subdued in her Carmen, and the same remark applies to Mme. Zelda Seguin Wallace, in a lesser degree, and to Mme. Trebelli, in still less a proportion, however, it required the natural inbred and unamiable vixen to do the role its peculiar justice; and when Mme. Hauck was the Carmen, Don José's irritability and temper were not altogether assumed. Mme. Kellogg, who assumed the character here originally, came closer to Mme. Hauck.

And as Mme. Trebelli was not as clear as Mme. Hauck was in the part, her years was a drawback and she suffered personally by comparison with that artiste who was young, diminutive and full of movement as a kitten - or rather, a cat with its claws alternately in the sheath, and exposed. Trebelli's assumption was fully artistic, and fraught with expression, and was much as only a splendid artiste could have accomplished, and there could be no absolute fault found with her acting, which was artistic and characteristic. She is a magnificent brunette with a handsome Southern face and with a springy, easy movement as might have become an Andalusian beauty. Her facial expression is most perfect, and the rapid transitions of coquetry, …, mischief and hatred were splendidly pictured in her nubile countenance. As for her voice we had an excellent taste of its quality on Monday evening. Its very rich in quality and strong in force, and has an exceedingly high range and a wonderful compass, the lower notes being most telling. As an artiste trained in the most perfect of schools, her method is admirable, and her phrasing is smooth, and lacks that jerky effect prima donne are prone to assume. She sang and acted splendidly, and after several of the scenes was recalled. The third act was especially strong, and Trebelli, Campanini, Del Puente, and Valleria received an ovation.

The sweet and lovely character of Micaela is but seldom given its due prominence, but it was exquisitely done by Valleria last night; the music of the part is the most beautiful in the opera and in the third act the solo which is redolent with poetry and touching harmony, she sang so beautifully that the house applauded the most enthusiastically - up to the extent of an encore, in fact, if she had been fit to accept it. Valleria sang, and acted even better than she did as Leonora, and gave the part of Micaela its full prominence and importance.

Campanini never acted with more dash and fire, and his work in the third act was most spirited and depicted in a most vivid and expressive manner the struggles between duty and jealousy. His voice showed the signs of wear and tear perceptibly. Del Puente presented a grand and picturesque figure as the bull fighter - rather too fine and refined an Escamillo to answer the conception of a professional bravo, however. He sang his toreador song magnificently and as usual electrified the house, receiving a very decided encore. These two characters are so well known in the hands of these artists that it is unnecessary to allude to them at greater length. They are stronger in a dramatic sense than ever and are powerful pieces of acting. Mme. Corani and Mlle. Lablache and Signora Corsani, Grazzi, Contini and Augier were excellent in some of the minor parts.

Mlle Malvina Cavalazzi made an important and interesting feature of the performance, and the ballet feature in the second act was done full justice to. Cavalazzi is one of the most graceful and accomplished of premier danseuses, and she received a hearty round of applause last evening for her solos. The orchestra plays an important part in "Carmen" and it was admirably conducted by Sig. Cleofonte Campanini. The chorus also did excellent work, although its chief duty was to pose and look picturesque. Taken as a whole, "Carmen" received a very fine rendition last evening and was greatly enjoyed by the few who took the pains to attend it.



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