[Met Performance] CID:36790
Don Giovanni {67} Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/30/1906.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
January 30, 1906

Mozart-Da Ponte

Don Giovanni............Antonio Scotti
Donna Anna..............Lillian Nordica
Don Ottavio.............Andreas Dippel
Donna Elvira............Jeanne Jomelli
Leporello...............Marcel Journet
Zerlina.................Marcella Sembrich
Masetto.................Arcangelo Rossi
Commendatore............Adolph Mühlmann
Dance...................Bianca Froehlich
Dance...................Pauline Verhoeven

Conductor...............Nahan Franko

Review (unsigned) in a Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)



Performance, Although Not Ideal, Had Many Features That Rewarded the Attention Which it Received.

The popular interest excited by the Mozart anniversary was indicated by a crowded audience gathered in the Academy of Music last night to listen to "Don Giovanni," revived for this occasion after an interval of five years. Mr. Conried has given the opera as good a cast as was available under present conditions and, if the performance was not ideal and only imperfectly suggested the Mozartian atmosphere, it was generally competent and had many features that rewarded the attention it received. Wherein "Don Giovanni" is now "old-fashioned," it is now the desultory form of Da Ponte's comedy and in certain operatic conventions of the eighteenth century which Mozart was at no pains to discard. For Mozart, like Shakespeare, was a man of his epoch, content to work with the forms of art which he found in use, and to which he gave new value by the depth and breadth of his poetic vision and his power of dramatic characterization, so that his works, like Shakespeare's, have lived, while those of his contemporaries and rivals have grown obsolete. There never had been such delineation of character in music as in the "Nozze di Figaro" and in "Don Giovanni." These three contrasted women and the men are living figures today, each with an individual voice not to be mistaken, yet all combined in a wonderful harmony that has inexhaustible charm as absolute music, the orchestra meanwhile keeping up its significant commentary on the characters and their emotions.

Orchestra Seems Feeble Today.

The orchestra of Mozart's time seems a feeble thing today, but the very simplicity of the means he employed gives the greater value to his large results. While the moderns have piled up their instrumental effects, the poetic essence of it all, the source of inspiration on which they all have drawn, is here in the limpid score of Mozart. To make this perennial vitality apparent to a modern audience demands a sympathetic interpretation not easy to command. Most of last nights singers had been heard in their several parts before. No one else has Madame Nordica's authority in Donna Anna, that "most superb and wonderful human presentment ever depicted in music," as Tchaikovsky says of this proud and revengeful lady. She sings her great scenes - the wonderful recitative preceding the tremendous aria - with really magnificent power. She has sung it before with fuller voice and fresher tone than she displayed last night, but the style is unimpaired and unapproachable.

The waspish yet still devoted Donna Elvira, though usually slighted, is really the responsible soprano of the opera. Madame Jomelli began agreeably, but the part soon got beyond her class and she did not carry the concerted music. The unmistakable Mozartian singer was Sembrich, whose Zerlina, with the right comedy spirit, was charmingly sung, with brightness and vivacity. The "Batti, batti" was one of the few pieces of thoroughly good singing in the opera. It rests largely with the baritone to determine the spirit of the performance. Scotti quite misses the careless elegance of Don Juan. He is serious rather than gay and heavy when we expect him to be light, and his fine voice has not the agility requisite for this music. It is for this reason that his singing in the part lacks his usual authority, though in some of its aspects his performance is effective.

No Great Opportunities for Tenor.

Don Ottavio is a rather invertebrate romanticist, who does not offer great opportunities to the tenor, and Dippel is scarcely a Mozartian singer. His voice, however, is more musical than those we usually hear in this part, and he carried it with intelligence and good taste. Journet proved a very capable Leporello, singing his catalogue song capitally and taking his part in the comedy with very good effect. Rossi as Massetto completed the cast. Franko conducted the performance in a rather perfunctory way, without individuality or conviction, and sometimes with an imperfect rhythmic sense, but the old Italian traditions are gone and it is not certain what a modern temperamental conductor would do with "Don Giovanni."

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