[Met Performance] CID:2450
Le Prophète {4} Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 04/18/1884.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
April 18, 1884
In Italian


LE PROPHÈTE {4}

Jean of Leyden..........Roberto Stagno
Berthe..................Ida Corani [Last performance]
Fidès...................Sofia Scalchi
Zacharie................Giovanni Mirabella
Jonas...................Nicola Stagi
Mathisen................Ludovico Contini
Count Oberthal..........Luigi Guadagnini [Last performance]
Peasant.................not performed
Officer.................Amadeo Grazzi
Herald..................Pietro Mascotti [Last performance]
Dance...................Malvina Cavalazzi

Conductor...............Auguste Vianesi

Review in the Philadelphia Press:

ITALIAN OPERA.

Mme. Scalchi in Meyerbeer's Great Opera "Il Profeta."

It is a rather remarkable circumstance that Mr. Abbey's company should have presented in a single week three out of four of the masterpieces of Meyerbeer's genius. "Il Profeta" comes naturally into comparison with "Les Huguenots." They are both built upon semi-religious themes, but the superiority of the latter is due, above all, to the fact that it has an eminently natural plot, while that of the former constantly offends the artistic sense by its absurdity. The one is world-wide in its historical interest, the other turns upon a comparatively insignificant incident of an insignificant sect. Marcel, in the "Huguenots," may be a prig, unless he be made a buffoon, as on Monday night, but the "three Anabaptist preachers" in "Il Profeta" show that M. Scribe, the librettist, had no conception in his mind of any dignity of faith, even of a narrow and bigoted faith; no loftiness of soul, as fiery, though mistaken, zeal for a hopeless cause. They are simply ruffians and villains without a redeeming quality. Even the prima donna of the opera allows her son to violate the sacred rights of hospitality and praises his filial devotion in having saved her wretched life at the expense of his maiden's honor. Such a theme could not inspire the noblest treatment. The insincerity of the plot must react on the composer, and thus we find that "Il Profeta" is great more in its spectacular effect than as an opera which appeals to the heart. We can feel no pity for any one, not even for Berta, who finds consolation for the loss of her lover and her honor, in a pilgrimage, and only aversion from every other character on the stage. There is superb music. The fire of Meyerbeer's genius was not kindled in vain even by a faulty book, and every act has its own peculiar beauties, both in the way of solos and concerted pieced, while the orchestration is everywhere dramatic and sustained. Curiously enough, the man whom Richard Wagner called a "miserable music-maker," should have approached so near the idea of a "leit motif" whenever he introduced 'the Anabaptist Preachers."

With the exception of Madame Scalchi alone, the principals must be dismissed with scant praise. Signor Stagno has never sung here more carelessly, and with greater disregard of his European reputation. Perhaps a round of hisses in the good Italian fashion would serve to wake him to the fact that he is ruining a splendid voice by a vicious method. His acting was dull. His singing was almost inaudible and absolutely ineffective, except when once he sent forth a trumpet note which was simply thrilling in its brilliancy. The three preachers were only tolerable.

Madame Scalchi carried all the honors of the evening. Upon her alone devolved the personal interest of the opera. She was always effective, always dramatic, and her singing was marked by its never-failing qualities of richness and force. The opera, properly enough under the circumstances was relentlessly cut, but surely it was a mistake to cut out Madame Scalchi's two great solos in the fourth act. It was like "Hamlet" with Hamlet left out. The chorus began well, but soon became badly demoralized. The orchestra also, especially in the march, was rough and unsteady. The march offers superb possibilities, but these were rather hinted than brought out. A word of praise must be given to Madame Cavalazzi, whose dancing in the snow-scene ballet was exquisitely graceful.

This afternoon Madame Nilsson will sing in "Lohengrin," and this evening Madame Sembrich will sing the part of Rosina in "Il Barbiere." It is the last opportunity to hear this brilliant and vivacious prima donna in a brilliant and vivacious part.



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