[Met Performance] CID:255670
Carmen {757} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/23/1978.

(Debut: Michael Devlin
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 23, 1978


CARMEN {757}

Carmen..................Régine Crespin
Don José................William Lewis
Micaela.................Leona Mitchell
Escamillo...............Michael Devlin [Debut]
Frasquita...............Alma Jean Smith
Mercédès................Shirley Love
Remendado...............Andrea Velis
Dancaïre................Russell Christopher
Zuniga..................Mario Bertolino
Moralès.................Gene Boucher

Conductor...............Giuseppe Patanè

Review of Speight Jenkins in the New York Post

Devlin debuts, Crespin returns in Met 'Carmen'

The hard news in the "Carmen" performance Thanksgiving night at the Metropolitan Opera came from Michael Devlin's debut as Escamillo. But equally important to his success was the raising of the whole level of the opera by the return of Regine Crespin in the title role. Devlin known to New York operagoers for his many fine performances with the City Opera (this fall he sang a superb Count in "The Marriage of Figaro") drew as his Met debut Escamillo, one of opera's most difficult roles. That everyone knows his music does not make it easier to sing, and Devlin, like almost all his predecessors, found the aria uncomfortably low. From then on, however, he displayed a fine, ringing baritone with good French and a simply marvelous stage presence.

Miss Crespin sang Carmen with great success three seasons ago at the Met, and she came hack even more fascinating and believable than before. Her Carmen has little connection either to Iberia or to the gypsies; hers is French in decorum, accent and gesture, and she suits Bizet's musical drama to the manner born. She knows that Carmen never has to work to get any man, and even though in Act l she might play it a shade too kittenish, she is funny where Bizet meant the plot to be light. Intense in Act II, she is never, never, never a bitch, retaining even in her anger the image of a desirable woman

Her third act was built around the Card Scene, which was the vocal highpoint of her performance. Her two arias in Act I had been negotiated somewhat carefully and there were other moments when the top blasted out too loudly. But in the Card Scene the luscious quality of her middle voice, still uniquely honeyed, combined with her defiant challenge to fate, made for gripping theater. Many Carmens start great and by the end are flatly boring: Miss Crespin's final duet was a masterpiece of disdain. Her absolute immobility turned Jose into a mad dog, and anyone who forgets her final spoken "Tiens" cares nothing for the theater.

William Lewis, not often heard these days at the Met, began somewhat raspily in Act I though his top notes were always present. He rose to a nicely phrased Flower Song, but it was in the third act when his voice really found itself. He was absolutely splendid in the final duet, giving a never-to-be-forgotten reading. Leona Mitchell, previously the strongest member of the "Carmen" cast, still held her own as Micaela and Giuseppe Patane, always seemingly more inspired the better the singers, gave his best performance of Bizet's tireless music.

One negative note must be sounded, however; the Zuniga, Mario Bertolino, repeated the coarse, unmusical singing which has characterized his work here this season. With all the young artists in America, it is inconceivable why such a performer should have been imported from Palermo.



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