[Met Performance] CID:25110
La Bohème {2} San Francisco, California: 11/19/1900.

(Review)


San Francisco, California
November 19, 1900


LA BOHÈME {2}

Mimì....................Nellie Melba
Rodolfo.................Giuseppe Cremonini
Musetta.................Fritzi Scheff
Marcello................Giuseppe Campanari
Schaunard...............Charles Gilibert
Colline.................Marcel Journet
Benoit..................Eugène Dufriche
Alcindoro...............Eugène Dufriche
Parpignol...............Aristide Masiero

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

Review of Blanche Partington in the San Francisco Call

MARVELOUS IS MELBA AS MIMI

Puccini's 'La Bohème' Beautifully Rendered

AUDIENCE IN RAPTURES

Pathetic Scenes and Tragic Periods Are Vividly Portrayed

Another good night with the Grau people, Puccini's "La Bohème" the programme and Melba the divine as Mimi. Once only has the opera been given before here - in '97 by a poverty-stricken, clever little Italian company. who were only all too familiar with the ups and downs - mostly downs - of the artist life, which the opera so faithfully presents. The opera was, of course, pirated - the company had been playing in Mexico, where everything goes - and we had the good fortune to get a share of the loot. For they were an artist crowd, happy-go-lucky, lavishly musical, born actors and pathetically well fitted by circumstances for the opera's interpretation.

The orchestra was amazingly good, the principals really excellent, but the chorus! Ohime(?) the chorus! how well I remember it! Gathered in from the hedges and the highways of the Latin Quarter, from the big-eyed bambinos - whose mothers must bring them to the theater for there was no one else to care for the little ones - to the aged grandam whose sweet, old Italian voice still had a worth-while note in it. The scenic accessories were on a par with the appearance of the chorus, but there was heart, and life, and genius in the performance just the same, as one gladly felt them in the air last night under how different circumstances!

"La Boheme" is a brilliant, vivid, scintillating sort of thing, modern as Wagner, but at opposite poles - realistic as he is realistic, and swiftly picturesque as Wagner is reposefully romantic. Puccini never by any chance prolongs the musical expression beyond the limits of the dramatic moment. Rather does the movement occasionally suggest unfinished musical thought, its legitimate expression denied climax in compliance with the dramatic exigencies, while oppositely Wagner will often prolong the dramatic situation beyond all reasonable limit to allow to his musical idea its full fruit of development. "La Boheme" has the same saving lack of set solo, trio, quartet and the rest of it, as has the Wagnerian music, and represents the last word so far of the modern Italian school.

The opera received a delightful interpretation last night. It had just the right tone-coloring, accent, feeling. Melba is a charming Mimi. She sings and acts the part with a pathetic grace that touches the heart and brings tears to the eyes. "Mimi! Mimi shouted the audience at the third scene's close, where she bids farewell to her poet lover, and "Mimi!" again. It is an unusual part for Melba, in this regard. No sort of opportunity does the role offer for the lovely vocal gymnastics of which she is so perfect a mistress; it is pure, straight. dramatic singing and the artist here achieves another triumph.



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