[Met Performance] CID:25050
Aida {55} San Francisco, California: 11/14/1900.

(Debut: Louise Homer
Review)


San Francisco, California
November 14, 1900


AIDA {55}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Lillian Nordica
Radamès.................Georges Imbart de la Tour
Amneris.................Louise Homer [Debut]
Amonasro................Antonio Scotti
Ramfis..................Pol Plançon
King....................Marcel Journet
Messenger...............Aristide Masiero
Priestess...............Mathilde Bauermeister

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

Director................William Parry

Aida received seven performances this season.


Photograph by Aimé Dupont of Louise Homer as Amneris.

Review of Blanche Partington in the San Francisco Call

'AIDA IS SPLENDIDLY RENDERED BY THE GRAU OPERATIC STARS

Nordica's Solo in the Nile Scene is Vociferously Applauded

It was rather like a Tivoli audience let loose last night at the Grand Opera house when it came to appreciation of the splendid performance of "Aida" which Mr. Grau gave us for the evening's programme. Not that the audience was large, the house being only moderately filled - and oh me! I fear for the fate of any future season in San Francisco! But this is a Verdi constituency. For long years the old Italian maestro has had the musical freedom of the town, and everything he has written goes, willy-nilly and without question. And I mean nought of disrespect by this to the grand old man of Italy who has linked the past and present of Italian opera in his own person, and written best what he has last written. But it is sufficient that Verdi's name heads the programme to insure an inevitable enthusiasm in San Francisco, no matter what the opera.

For one thing Italian opera is a sort of encore-made-easy affair, the high note the cue, and one must be stupid indeed not to be able to win some small, inexpensive glory at least once in an evening by leading the palm symphony. It is different with Wagner - most things are different with Wagner - but the "rounded period" is not in evidence and applause is a finicking quantity with neither high note nor tonic to guide! Therefore the comparative ease of applause between last evening and Tuesday evening with "Tannhäuser'' for temptation is no sure criterion of enjoyment, especially when the vigor of the Damrosch curtain calls is remembered.

We had Mancinelli on the stage, too, at the end of the Nile scene, by long odds the finest part of the performance. The Italian conductor is a master of his work. handling the huge orchestra and chorus with supreme skill and utmost ease. He has rather an amusing air of mild wonder at the enthusiasm of the populace - as if he should say that "Aida" is an old story to him, but there was nothing lacking in vim and verve in the work and the wonderful sextet and ensemble in the third scene were given with smashing effect. Nordica was the Aida of the evening. and at first a little disappointing. Her voice seems to have sharpened since her last visit here a few years ago, and curiously unsuitable make-up - another in the long list of Aida-in-her-variety with which we are familiar here - rather added to the feeling of disappointment. Italian opera is not Nordica's métier. Her great work has been done in Wagnerian opera, and that is where we greet again the great artist whose Brünnhilde gave so much delight when last we heard her. But as the evening progressed Nordica's voice freshened and sweetened, and in the Nile scene her solo and duet with Radames was exquisitely given and vociferously applauded.

Mme. Louise Homer is new to us. As Amneris last night she created a very favorable impression, being fair to look upon, exceedingly graceful and with a contralto voice of extraordinary compass and smooth line, if rather cold, quality. She is an intellectual rather than emotional actress, and leaves the impression, both as to acting and singing, that she has not yet reached the height of her possibilities.

Much dramatic power has Imbart de la Tour. Radames for the nonce, and robust tenor voice, not always smoothly managed nor always quite in tune, but he rises to a fine climax and is a very sufficient Radames. Plançon has a rare voice, a vibrant, regnant voice, and a magnificent presence, which showed to fine advantage in the splendid robes of Ramfis. And how he does sing!

Amonasro is undertaken by M. Scotti, and a noble barbarian he is. He has a good barytone, warm-blooded and of dramatic timbre; but it is not very even in production and has a certain roughness of fiber, which latter quality, however, seems to suit the role. He has his moments of dramatic intensity, but the Amonasro is, on the whole, rather conventionally conceived. The king is well sung by M. Journet, and Miss Bauermeister was well heard as the priestess.

The choruses, "Hymn to Ptha," the measured and massive march, the hymning priestess psalm in the distance, were given most beautifully, and the orchestra was wonderful throughout. A most interesting feature is the work of the ballet, the symbolic dances and mysterious evolutions of a large corps of perfectly trained danseuses. In fact we have everything that "they" have in Europe - stars, staging, chorus. orchestra, ballet, everything - let us enjoy while we may and be grateful to the strange and wonderful chance that has brought their things to our distant door.

The house will, of course, be crowded tonight, for Melba sings Marguerite, but remember in time that "The Flying Dutchman" and Gadski and all the wonderful glory of the greatest tone-painter of the ages, will be yours to-morrow night, and for the same price.



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