[Met Performance] CID:34140
Metropolitan Opera Premiere
Lucrezia Borgia {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/5/1904.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)
(Debut: Maria De Macchi
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 5, 1904
Metropolitan Opera Premiere

LUCREZIA BORGIA {1}
Donizetti-F. Romani

Lucrezia................Maria De Macchi [Debut]
Gennaro.................Enrico Caruso
Alfonso d'Este..........Antonio Scotti
Orsini Maffio...........Edyth Walker
Rustighello.............Jacques Bars
Astolfo.................Arcangelo Rossi
Gubetta.................Eugène Dufriche
Gazella.................Bernard Bégué
Petrucci................Victor Baillard
Vitellozzo..............Mr. Giordani
Liverotto...............Lloyd Rand

Conductor...............Arturo Vigna

Director................Eugène Dufriche

Enrico Caruso repeated "Com'è soave"

Lucrezia Borgia has received only one performance at the Metropolitan Opera.


Review of Richard Aldrich in The New York Times:

DONIZETTI OPERA SUNG AT METROPOLITAN AFTER TWENTY-TWO YEARS

DEBUT FOR MME. DE MACCHI

Miss Walker in the Cast with Caruso and Scotti - Reason for this opera's Revival Not Apparent

A long reach was made backward into the past at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening when Donizetti's opera "Lucrezia Borgia" was revived. Whatever plausibility of excuse may have been found for the resuscitation in recent years of half a dozen other neglected operas of the older Italian list there is very little for this. "Lucrezia Borgia" has lain on the shelf in New York for twenty-two years; and it has deserved the neglect into which it has lapsed. It was last heard here at the Academy of Music in October, 1882, with the cast that contained nobody of any importance except Signor Ravelli, who sang the part of Gennaro. Even then it was characterized by people predisposed in favor of the Italian school as "an opera of the past." It is very much so now.

Donizetti filled it full of his prettiest and most inconsequential melodies, which flow unctuously through the score, with no imaginable relation to anything that goes on upon the stage, and whose only object is plainly to give the singers something to sing. They certainly give no kind of expression to the dark deeds and flatterings of wickedness that constitute the texture of this opera. It is a repetition of empty formulas and passages, and is absolutely without a trace of dramatic characterization. Modern historians have done a good deal to rehabilitate the name and fame of the wicked Borgia; but there is not much but blame for her doings as they were represented by Donizetti's librettist, who followed Hugo's deep-dyed tragedy. Nobody would suspect it, however, from the music that is sung by her and about her.

"Lucrezia Borgia," to be tolerable, must be sung with all the beauty and distinction of "bel canto"' but there was very little of that in the last evening's performance. The part of Lucretia was once accounted a "dramatic" one, and was a favorite vehicle for the art of many great prima donnas of the "dramatic" style. Last evening it served to introduce to this public a new soprano of Mr. Conried's company, who is presented as a dramatic singer - Mme. Maria de Macchi. She proved to be a degenerate member of the great line that extended from Grisi to Titjens; a singer of thin and acid voice, unsteady and tremulous. She showed much uncertainty in the beginning from which she partially recovered as she went on. She sings with a certain facility in the execution of the florid passages, but there is little distinction of style and little of the breadth and sweep that alone can make such music tolerable for its own sake. Her chief air, "Com'è bello," especially needs such qualities, and without them was impotent indeed. Her acting shows routine and familiarity with the stage, but last evening seemed to be as lacking in distinction and dramatic power as her singing.

Mme. Walker as Maffio Orsini had an opportunity for her beautiful voice. In the "brindisi" of the last act, "Il segreto," she is given a number that has for three-quarters of a century never failed of its effect, and she, too, had her success in it. Mr. Caruso seemed to have little interest in the proceedings that fell to his share in the opera, till the last act, and indeed, was at first far from being in his best voice. His air, "Com'è Soave," he had to repeat.

Mr. Scotti put energy enough into the part of Don Alfonso, but this music is not such as shows him at his best. And as far the rest of the men, of whom there are a large number, there was little to add to the musical enjoyment in what they did. Mr. Vigna conducted with his usual energy, which in operas of this kind is sometimes excessive. But neither he nor any of the others concerned in the representation could give any good reason in what they did last evening why "Lucrezia Borgia" should be galvanized again into a semblance of life in this day and generation, and before the public of this day and generation.



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