[Met Performance] CID:23040
Carmen {128} Matinee ed. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/4/1900.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
January 4, 1900 Matinee


CARMEN {128}

Carmen..................Emma Calvé
Don José................Albert Saléza
Micaela.................Suzanne Adams
Escamillo...............Giuseppe Campanari
Frasquita...............Mathilde Bauermeister
Mercédès................Marie Van Cauteren
Remendado...............Auguste Queyla
Dancaïre................Eugène Dufriche
Zuniga..................Herman Devries
Moralès.................Jacques Bars

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

Director................Pierre Baudu

Suzanne Adams repeated "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante"

[Note: The principal singers sang in French while the chorus sang in Italian.]

Review (unsigned) in Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)

THE OPERA SEASON: A MATINEE PERFORMANCE OF "CARMEN" WITH CALVÉ.

Calvé as Carmen! The words somehow seem to suggest that most odious of things, a star performance. Yet nothing could be further removed from the reproach which such a term implies than the magnificent performance of Bizet's opera which Mr. Grau's company gave yesterday afternoon at the Academy of Music. One is confronted on the very threshold of an attempt to do justice to it with the limitations of the English language. The ordinary adjectives, made hackneyed by frequent hitching to the operatic chariot, are unsuited to the occasion. Not one minute in, the opera but what was absolutely delightful; not an individual in it but what was proportionately up to the standard of the whole; and that was as near perfection as one can reasonably hope to listen to. There are outside considerations, if one pauses to reflect, that are often largely responsible for the success or otherwise of an operatic performance. The singers, like stringed instruments, are easily affected by atmospheric conditions. If, when the orchestra plays sluggishly, the choristers meander through their parts and the principals sing as if the effort was a burden to them and one consulted a barometer, the explanation would frequently be found there.

Perhaps the atmospheric conditions were more than usually favorable yesterday, for since the days when Calvé first set London and Paris all agog with her Carmen and her Santuzza some eight years ago, her voice never seemed more rich in quality or more beautifully modulated, nor did she ever sing with greater ease and freedom; in fact, the exquisite beauty of her singing made one almost overlook the charm of her acting. She no longer plays the part with the abandon she once threw into it; her Carmen is not the passionate creature of old, but a more calculating one; the same sinuous, seductive creature, with all the alluring wiles, but a woman higher in intellect, one above her companions and surroundings; still a creature of impulse, but with a more governable manner. Perhaps this refinement of the part did not entirely suit the tastes of the audience as a whole, for there was not the enthusiasm that might reasonably have been expected from a house packed to the doors and every aisle in the balconies filled with people standing and sitting. It is true that there were several curtain calls after each act, but the real applause was reserved for the toreador's song and Micaela's aria in the third act. But then matinee audiences are peculiar in some respects.

In M. Saleza we not only had the first tenor who, so far this season, has sung in tune, but a Don José of whom it difficult to speak too highly. Since last season M. Saleza has gained both in stature and in power. He is no longer the slightly built tenor with a voice in which quality was the predominating feature. He has filled out physically and his voice has grown in proportion, and a singularly beautiful voice it is. Don José is not a grateful role for a tenor; the opportunities for individual success are not great; every one but he has something to sing that should bring down the house, but the brigadier must think more of those who are on the stage with him than of himself. M. Saleza was particularly happy in the restraint he put upon himself in the first act and his gradual working up of the part to the final tragic ending. Vocally, his performance was one of exquisite refinement and beauty, his singing of the flower song in the tavern of Lillas Pastia being exceptionally good.

Miss Suzanne Adams, whose fresh young voice and girlish appearance make her an ideal Michaela, sang the two beautiful arias allotted to her in the first and third acts most charmingly, the latter commanding an encore. Signor Campanari was the Escamillo, and one whom it is difficult to better. He sang with more restraint than usual and the subdued effect on the somewhat blatant tones of the Toreador's song was a marked improvement on the way in which it is usually given. Among the smaller roles M. Jacques Bars sang exceedingly well as Morales, and M. Dufriche and M. Queyle made an excellent pair of smugglers.

Not only were the principals exceptionally good, but the chorus and orchestra did their full share towards keeping up the standard. The orchestra under Signor Bevignani, played with admirable spirit and precision, and there was a spontaneity about the chorus, who, by the way, sang in Italian, though the principals sang in French, that was positively refreshing; yet with it there was evidence of a hand that had trimmed down any tendency to over exuberance in the matter of lung power that gave an admirable effect of suppressed passion in the first act. The guard mounting in the [first] scene was done in true military fashion instead of the usual make believe, and the ballets in Lillas Pastia's tavern and in the last scene of all were thoroughly good, including a premiere danseuse, whose name should certainly have been on the programme. Taken altogether, since Mr. Grau is responsible for good or ill, let us give him the credit for a complete and most beautiful presentation of Bizet's opera.



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