[Met Performance] CID:23090
Metropolitan Opera Stage Premiere (Don Pasquale)
Don Pasquale {2}
Cavalleria Rusticana {51}
Metropolitan Opera House: 01/8/1900.
 (Metropolitan Opera Stage Premiere)
(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 8, 1900
Metropolitan Opera Stage Premiere

DON PASQUALE {2}

Don Pasquale............Antonio Pini-Corsi
Norina..................Marcella Sembrich
Ernesto.................Thomas Salignac
Dr. Malatesta...........Antonio Scotti
Notary..................Auguste Queyla

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


CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA {51}

Santuzza................Emma Calvé
Turiddu.................Andreas Dippel
Lola....................Eugenia Mantelli
Alfio...................Giuseppe Campanari
Mamma Lucia.............Mathilde Bauermeister

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


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

DONIZETTI'S 'DON PASQUALE'

An Old Opera revived at the Metropolitan

The anxiety of this public to hear new works has long been known to be a small and apparently diminishing quantity. On the other hand, there is a readiness to listen to the famous singers of Mr. Grau's company in new parts. When novelties are not produced, these are not easily supplied. Mr. Grau shows a good deal of ingenuity in moving the pieces on his operatic chessboard into new combinations, but even his resources will not last forever. Consequently it becomes necessary sometimes to bring forward old works which have not been heard in many years. One of these revivals took place last night when Donizetti's "Don Pasquale" was produced for the opportunity it afforded Mme. Sembrich to appear in a part in which she had not been previously heard by this public.

To those acquainted with the history of opera this work brings up recollections of one of the greatest combinations of singers ever brought together, one which must make even those of Mr. Grau's company pale by comparison. "Don Pasquale" was written for the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris and was produced there in 1843 with Grisi, Mario, Tamburini and Lablache in the four rôles. It was produced in this city in English on March 9, 1846 and in Italian on Dec. 18, 1849. The soprano rôle was a favorite with Mme. Patti and it was one of the battle horses of Ilma di Murska. The work was last performed on the operatic stage in this city, previous to last night, at the Academy of Music, under the management of Col. Mapleson, on April 10, 1880. The cast consisted of Marie Marimon as Norina, Signor Lazzarini as Ernesto, Signor Del Puente as Dr. Malatesta and Signor Papini as Don Pasquale. A later performance of the opera, however, was at Chickering Hall on Jan. 19, 1884, when the cast was as follows: Norina, Mme. Lillian Nordica; Ernesto, Signor Brignoli; Dr. Malatesta, Signor Bellati; and Don Pasquale, Signor Caracciolo. Those who may be astonished at finding the Isolde and Brunnhiide of today as the representative of the volatile Norina, sung last night by Mme. Sembrich, should remember that she began her career, like Lilli Lehmann, as a colorature singer, making her operatic debut as Violetta in "La Traviata."

Those who recall the delightful talents of Mme. Marimon will easily understand how any colorature soprano who possesses skill as a comedian will find a congenial rôle in Norina. When Mlle. Marimon first appeared as Norina under Mr. Gye's management in London The London Standard said of her: "Mile. Marimon is one of the few operatic artists who can express humor in their tones as well as in their faces and gestures, and her version of the part last night was in all respects admirable. All the elaborate passages which Donizetti has written, and many which have been added to the score for the sake of the unusually gifted prima donna, were sung with unerring fluency, and Mlle. Marimon's diverting comedy met with ready response of laughter." It is not difficult to gather from this and the similar comments made on Mlle. Marimon's performance here, that the part is one very favorable to such gifts as those of Mme. Sembrich. But before speaking of her work something should be said of the opera itself

It has never been regarded as more than a brilliant trifle, but in this, as in "L'Elisir d'Amore," the facility of Donizetti in the composition of music for comic opera is admirably displayed. Indeed, these two works go far toward persuading one that in his attempts to write opera seria Donizetti deprived the world of much fascinating and valuable gayety. The grand note never really sounds from the pen of this writer, but for light and fluent melody of no great depth he had a fecund fancy. In "Don Pasquale " Donizetti was in his happiest mood. There are life, sparkle and even character in his music and the principal melodies are really charming. The book, too, is a good piece of farcical comedy of the old sort and, taken altogether, the work is a most delightful specimen of Italian opera buffa.

Last night's performance was a genuine treat. It would be hard to imagine anything more delightful in the way of light opera. To begin with, the rôle of Norina fits Mme. Sembrich perfectly, while her glorious vocal art and consummate skill as an actress in every measure of it with brilliant melody and buoyant humor. She was in superb voice and bubbling spirits last night. From beginning to end of the performance she sang with a crystalline sparkle and a breezy freedom that were fascinating, infectious and triumphantly victorious. Her impersonation was in its histrionic aspects correct, complete, convincing and exhilarating. Her delicious gayety and perfect artistic poise will long be remembered by those who were present last night and it will be strange if ''Don 'Pasquale" is not soon repeated for the sake of Mme. Sembrich's impersonation.

She had excellent associates in Messrs. Scotti as Malatesta, Pini-Corsi as Don Pasquale and Salignac as Ernesto. Signor Pini-Corsi proved himself to be a buffo of capital comic ability and of intimate knowledge of the traditions of his own stage. Signor Scotti was a handsome and gallant Dr. Malatesta, and he sang his music excellently. But a real feature of last night's performance was the ensemble, the justness with which the work was presented and the perfect harmony with which the four principals, chorus, orchestra and Signor Mancinelli worked together to give a faithful presentation of the composer's ideas. Such a complete performance of "Don Pasquale" is, indeed, a novelty and Mr. Grau deserves both praise and thanks for it.

The audience last night had good measure for its money. "Don Pasquale" was followed by "Cavalleria Rusticana," in which the principals were Mme. Calvé as Santuzza, Mme. Mantelli as Lola, Mr. Dippel as Turiddu and Signor Campanari as Alfio. It is not necessary at this late day to comment extensively on Mme. Calvé's intensely tragic interpretation of the betrayed Sicilian girl. It is one of the most thrilling operatic impersonations of our time and last night, after the limpid and lilting comedy of Mme. Sembrich's work, it came with doubly pathetic power. The other members of the cast did their work well and the performance as a whole was properly impressive. Tomorrow night Meyerbeer's "Le Prophete" will be brought forward.




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