[Met Performance] CID:38520
Martha {33} Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/15/1907.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 15, 1907
In Italian


MARTHA {33}

Lady Harriet............Marcella Sembrich
Lionel..................Enrico Caruso
Nancy...................Louise Homer
Plunkett................Marcel Journet
Sir Tristram............Arcangelo Rossi
Sheriff.................Eugène Dufriche
Maid....................India Waelchli
Maid....................Estelle Shearman
Maid....................Katherine Moran
Servant.................Vittorio Navarini
Dance...................Bianca Froehlich
Dance...................Miss Haban

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

Marcella Sembrich repeated "The Last Rose of Summer" in English.
Enrico Caruso repeated "M'appar.i"

Review (Unsigned) in a Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)

'MARTHA' REVIVED AT THE ACADEMY

OLD SONGS DELIGHT LARGE AUDIENCE

Sembrich and Caruso with Homer and Journet in a Performance of Flotow's Familiar Opera

There was a reminiscence of old times at the Academy of Music last evening when "Martha" was sung to the great audience that has been customary this season, and with much more than customary manifestations of delight. The Philadelphia public is so starved for opera that even "Martha" was hailed as a joyful relief from the weary round of "Faust" and" Lohengrin." There is nothing better of its kind than Flotow's best remembered and cosmopolitan opera comique, and no one need be ashamed of enjoying "Martha," especially when it was well sung as it was, for the most part, last night. Until a dozen years agoeverybody knew it familiarly, and every group of singers, professional or amateur, English, German or Italian, was accustomed to sing it. It has grown old-fashioned, no doubt, but it has not been replaced. We have nothing corresponding with this kind of popular opera now. If we wished to bear even "Pinafore" we should have to wait for Mr. Conried to "revive" it - a process requiring several years from promise to fulfillment.

Though its home is in the smaller theatres, "Martha" was always popular at the Academy of Music. When the Prince of Wales visited Philadelphia in 1860 and a gala performance was given for him, "Martha" was the opera and Adelina Patti, in the flush of her first youthful triumph, was the still unapproached prima donna. Some of the scenery painted by Russell Smith for that occasion was still in service last night. In a later period, in the reign of Strakosch, Mr. Behrens has often conducted the orchestra in Flotow's unexacting score, while Kellogg and Carey romped with the spinning wheels. The part of Lionel was a favorite with the German tenors, like Wachtel and Habelmann. to whom it especially belongs, but Brignolii, to his latest days, sang "M'appari" as no one else has even done, before or since. The last Italian performance recalled was one in which Ravelli sang with Gerster.

The opera is revived now for Caruso, who takes the tenor role very seriously. He began last night with a melting beauty of tone and a suavity of utterance that promised everything. But forcing sentiment more and more, by the time he reached the second act he had been possessed of the idea that this was tragedy and his graceful aria was delivered like the lament in "Pagliacci." The overwrought emotion turned to roughness and took the music out of it. The part, which was dressed like John Milton, was overdone in every way, as though to emphasize the fact that this is the tenor's opera.

Against Caruso's tearful emphasis, the Lady Henrietta of Madame Sembrich was very pale indeed. She sings the concerted music of the part with fluency and ease, of which she is almost the best exponent, but neither of her solos had her old authority or certainty. Her performance as a whole, however, has the real spirit of the music, which to the others is lost, and we should be grateful for the opportunity of hearing this. Journet, who sang Plunkett with good voice and excellent style, was an exception to this criticism. He understood his part and was altogether admirable. Mme. Homer, as Nancy, completed the quartet. The concerted music is all so unfailingly delightful that it kept the audience consistently interested. It was, on the whole, a good performance though it did not always succeed in revivifying the old forms or in renewing old memories. The ballet was given nicely in the last act, but otherwise there was no remarkable departure from old custom..






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