[Met Performance] CID:25740
Le Cid {4} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/16/1901.

(Debut: Lucienne Bréval

Metropolitan Opera House
January 16, 1901

LE CID {4}
Jules Massenet--Adolphe Énnery/Louis Gallet/Édoard Blau

Don Rodrigue............Jean de Reszke
Chimène.................Lucienne Bréval [Debut]
Infanta.................Nellie Melba
Don Diègue..............Edouard de Reszke
Count Gormas............Pol Plançon
King....................Eugène Sizes
St. Jacques.............Jacques Bars
Moorish Envoy...........Eugène Dufriche
Don Arias...............Aristide Masiero
Don Alonzo..............Lodovico Viviani

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

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

Le Cid received four performances this season.

Review in the Sun


A Sightly Spectacle with Fine Singing by De Reszke - A Dramatic Performance and Bad Singing by the New French Prima Donna - Massenet's Spanish Dances

It was French opera in a vast kaleidoscopic review that held the stage of the Metropolitan last night, and it was the first marvel of twentieth century music that a big, patient Metropolitan audience sat there, imperturbably tumultuous, from 8 at night until 12:15 o'clock this morning, In all that time just three things happened. The first was a début, Mlle. Lucienne Bréval, veteran of eight Paris seasons, faced her first audience of barbarians in this new world. She had doubtless been warned by her countrymen that Americans have odd little ways of treating singers who fail to please, and that often you have to dance to the mirthful popular of revolver shots from the top gallery. Certainly Bréval regarded the house with awe. She made mighty efforts to sing, and yet showed no voice that could hope to charm this public. Her countenance was rude and ghastly in the half-mourning that was her chief costume. But as a fine figure of a woman she scored the success of a dozen years, and her acting placed her in the trio of Mr. Grail's chief dramatic sopranos. The second feature of last evening was the most fascinating series of ballets that any opera in the Grau repertory can offer. The third was another appearance of Jean de Reszke, who earned all the dollars that he received for trying to put life into "Le Cid."

As a serious comic opera, if such a thing wore possible, Massenet's "Le Cid" affords any amount of entertainment. Its ten scenes, cut down to eight, were handsomely set upon the stage. The bombast of Meyerbeer, the love-making of Gounod, the Spanish dances of a Bizet, and any other pleasant memory of opera that you could wish for, were made a bewildering accompaniment to the spectacle. The leading singers could not be surpassed. Here were the De Reszkes and Plançon in the parts which they "created" fifteen years ago in Paris, and which they sang in the only Metropolitan performances, two in number, before last evening. Edouard de Reszke as Don Diègue acted that mighty warrior's battle against old age to the very life. Plançon might have been an artist-proof portrait of the Comte de Gorman. Jean de Reszke as Rodrigue, Spain's champion against the Moors, sang actually his best. His knightly figure in chain-mail hardly suggested his - well, never mind how many years, He was a tower of strength to Massenet as well as Spain.

Mme. Melba sang the Infanta with apologies and sang well. In fact, Massenet's trick of making his heroine repeat phrase after phrase from the Princess's lips helped one and hurt the other greatly. The loud uncertainties of Bréval's tremolo suffered from the very outset, by contrast with the light, steady tones of Melba. But to say that the more famous soprano acted like an Infanta, at any age from the cradle up, would be gross flattery of her animation. The more Bréval acted, the more Melba became as wax. After the triumph of Bréval's chamber scene, she looked positively ill. As a matter of début, this Scene I of Act III was last night's climax. The portrayal of a woman whose very denials declare her passion was splendidly done. The rest of poor Chimene's part was nothing but wails and howls of woe that had better been left unuttered. Of the other singers of new parts, M. Sizes had certainly not the proper size for a King in this six-footer company. M. Dufriche sang a Moorish envoy's challenge from horseback and the capers of the horse quite muffled all alarums of war. The equine comedian made a genuine hit.

After it was all over, the spectators of this revival were loud in their praises or scorn. Superlative alone expressed the pent-up feelings of suppers deferred and carriages in the worst jam of the year. The débutante and the chief of tenors had, of course, their final recalls. As for poor Massenet, only his ballet stood out as characteristic. Those Spanish dances and a star cast would carry any opera for a season. But a man with a sword on his hands and a woman with a woe were no hero and heroine to the ballet, or to anybody else who listened for music in "Le Cid."

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