[Met Performance] CID:39080
Rigoletto {51} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/4/1907.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 4, 1907

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Riccardo Stracciari
Gilda...................Marcella Sembrich
Duke of Mantua..........Enrico Caruso
Maddalena...............Louise Homer
Sparafucile.............Marcel Journet
Monterone...............Adolph Mühlmann
Borsa...................Primo Raimondi
Marullo.................Bernard Bégué
Count Ceprano...........Eugène Dufriche
Countess Ceprano........Helen Mapleson
Giovanna................Lina Simeoli
Page....................Edith Vail
Guard...................Vittorio Navarini

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

Review of Algernon St. John-Brenon in the Telegraph


But Both He and Mme. Sembrich Fail to Give Opera Its Dramatic Value


Caruso Comes to the Rescue with "La Donne e Mobile" - Homer is Not Wicked Enough

A somewhat laggard and indifferent performance of 'Rigoletto," known in its dramatic form as "The Good Revenge," was given last night at the Metropolitan Opera House. Rigoletto" is a somewhat sere and outworn music-melodrama, much of the music of which is banal and utterly inappropriate. Its last act rises to the higher delights of modern opera, but a great deal of the rest of it sinks to the level of the intelligence of that noisy element in the opera house which clings to the rail, and the gods of whose artistic Pantheon are Caruso, Donizetti and garlic. Melodrama 'Rigoletto" certainly is for it is an ingenious collection and development of criminal horrors. It reeks with corpses, assassins, wicked dukes, cloaks, swords, curses, ladders, a sack containing the wrong person murdered and Mr. Stracciari's woes and faults. It should appeal irresistibly to the perfervid and insatiate imaginations of the eaters of coarse dramatic meats in the East Side of our own city, and to the imbibbers of heady theatric wine on the South Side of London.

Melodramatic possibilities of no mean order "Rigoletto" certainly possesses, as indeed an opera founded upon one of Victor Hugo's surprisingly well-constructed plays must possess. Those possibilities exist like English pheasants, chiefly for the purpose of being light-heartedly destroyed by singers who are as deliberately careless of their acting as Mme. Sembrich and M. Stracciari.

Sembrich Not an Actress

Mme. Sembrich as an actress we must give up in despair. Many times have we seen her deliberately and wantonly ruin operatic scenes that were fertile in dramatic value. Such a scene is surely to be found in the second act of "Rigoletto," when Gilda, all unconscious of the presence of a band of scoundrels outside her garden walls, picks up a candle, to light herself to her bedroom and, singing that pleasing simplicity, "Caro nome," goes slowly upstairs. When she is finally ensconced in her room and her aria is at an end, she is greeted with a tempest of applause. Whereupon Mme. Sembrich - for surely she is no longer Gilda - comes out of her room without the light, slowly descends the stairs, bowing to the subscribers every five stage steps, and walks right up to the footlights again to curtsey to the fashionable gathering in the auditorium. By this action she reminded us of nothing so much as of the over-polite Irishman, who borrowed a candle from his host to light him safely down several flights of breakneck stairs, but who, when he got down, climbed up again to return the candle. If Mme. Sembrich would act upon the stage and not upon the concert platform, she would do service to the histrionics of opera.

Stracciari's Faults Negative.

M. Stracciari did not offend with positive crimes of this kind. His faults were distressingly negative. When he found that his daughter and not his enemy, the duke, was in the famous sack his surprise was not that of a father who has unexpectedly found his daughter assassinated, but rather of a Lady who discovers that her housemaid has left the coal-scuttle in the middle of the drawing room - that is to say, he was apparently irritated, but not agonized. Nor does his voice or singing compensate for the deficiencies.

Much the same must be said of Mme. Sembrich. Last night she was far from being in good voice. She did not have control of her breath, and many notes of hers that should have been effective were crude in production and discolored in tone. As Maddalena, the very Second Mrs. Tanqueray of "Rigoletto," Mme. Louis Homer was gaily and wickedly dressed, but for the rest eminently respectable, even if somewhat coquettish.

Until the last act M. Caruso was not in quite his best voice, the color being slightly strained and hard, but the eternal "La Donna e Mobile" was given with explosive energy. He saved the performance from fatuity and futility. The orchestra, as ever under Arturo Vigna, was vigorous, but also slightly harsh.

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