[Met Performance] CID:38940
Manon Lescaut {2} Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/21/1907.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 21, 1907


Manon...................Lina Cavalieri
Des Grieux..............Enrico Caruso
Lescaut.................Antonio Scotti
Geronte.................Vittorio Navarini
Edmondo.................Jacques Bars
Innkeeper...............Bernard Bégué
Solo Madrigalist........Lina Simeoli
Dancing Master..........Giovanni Paroli
Sergeant................Vittorio Navarini
Lamplighter.............Albert Reiss
Captain.................Bernard Bégué

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

Review (unsigned) from a Philadelphia newspaper (unidentified)


Puccini's Opera at the Academy of Music Last Night.

The postponed performance of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" was given at the Academy of Music last evening, with the cast previously announced, including Cavalieri, Caruso and Scotti and an altogether creditable and at times brilliant interpretation of this early work of the now famous Italian composer was presented. The audience was that of a "popular" night, the kind which Caruso never fails to attract, and much of the success and enthusiasm of the performance was due to the fine work of the tenor.

Musically, the opera lacks some of the brilliancy of Puccini's later works, but it is rich with a promise which has been amply fulfilled in his "La Bohème," "Tosca," and "Madame Butterfly." It is a departure from the set numbers of the older Italian school which, when first produced, was regarded as radical, but the development of operatic methods along modern lines has now left it somewhat in the rear. Puccini himself has led the way in the march of advanced musical ideas.

The story of pretty Manon Lescaut, who, on her way to a convent, meets and falls in love with the Chevalier Des Grieux, elopes with him, only to desert him for a rich old admirer, then returns to her first love and meets a sad death after being deported to America, is effective for operatic purposes. The librettist has made use of some of the most dramatic points of the novel by Abbe Provost and the opera has a picturesque background.

As Des Grieux, Caruso has a role which gives him an opportunity for some of the impassioned singing and acting of which he, at times, seems fond, and which he is, at times, inclined to overdo. He missed no chance to make a point last night and in the dramatic climaxes roused the audience to enthusiastic outbursts of applause. There are numerous passages in the score where the exquisite quality of his voice shows to advantage and. while he has roles with finer solo opportunities, his Des Grieux amply displays his vocal richness.

As Manon, Cavalieri's rare beauty is set off by handsome and becoming costumes, and her personality makes the part, in a visual sense, ideal. While she does not comprehend wholly its dramatic possibilities, her acting has a touch of simplicity in the first act and later was not without some pathos and a suggestion of sincerity. Cavalieri is inclined to overact, however, and her gestures are often too elaborate to be entirely appropriate or graceful. The music of the part is much of the time too low to show her voice to advantage, as she has practically no low tones, and she had to wait for the high notes to produce an effect. The best parts of the performance, and those most applauded, were the duets between Cavalieri and Caruso, and in these the credit belonged mostly to the tenor.

Scotti did not find much opportunity to come to the front, as Lescaut, but his voice was agreeably heard a few times and his make-up and acting were in keeping with the part of Manon's unscrupulous villain of a brother. Rossi did well with the role of Geronte, and Bars sang commendably in one brief scene as Edmondo. Reiss, Begue, Navarine and Simeoli had other small parts. The madrigal in the second act was nicely sung by several pupils of Mr. Conried's school of opera, and the chorus work was well done.

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