[Met Performance] CID:42450
Il Trovatore {64} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/21/1908.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 21, 1908

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Riccardo Martin
Leonora.................Emma Eames
Count Di Luna...........Pasquale Amato
Azucena.................Louise Homer
Ferrando................Herbert Witherspoon
Ines....................Marie Mattfeld
Ruiz....................Giuseppe Tecchi
Gypsy...................Edoardo Missiano

Conductor...............Francesco Spetrino

Director................Jules Speck

Il Trovatore received eight performances this season.

Review of Algernon St. John-Brenon in the Telegraph


Three Americans Sing in Principal Roles of the Verdi Opera. Caruso Not in Cast.


Our old friend "Il Trovatore" had his annual revival last night at the Metropolitan Opera House.

He is now more than fifty years old, but the number of those interested in his strange eventful history never diminishes. Just as the number of those who really knew the plot of this opera has never increased.

The tangled horrors of that dramatically tragical melodrama I shall not now attempt to unweave. It is sufficient to say that it has very strong resemblances to "H. M. S. Pinafore" and the family confusions of the immortal Buttercup.

It is interesting, however, to note that those sanguinary records of a castle in Spain were interpreted last night in three of its principal parts by three Americans. Mme. Enma Eames, as Leonora; Mme. Louise Homer, as Azucena, or the Distracted Gypsy, and Dick Martin, as Manrico.

The Singing of Martin

New Richard Martin is a very clever young man. He has not yet appreciated the subtle differences that exist between a sword and a toastng fork, and his scenic behavior as a rule savors of the stiff and angular. This can all be remedied. A child stupid enough not to be able to master in a few lessons the principals of "good" operatic acting has not yet been found. He will outgrow the clumsiness of which the toasting-fork-sword business is symbolic.

Martin's voice is excellent and handled with keen good sense, but the moment this attractive young singer tried to force it into the dramatic vein it becomes glossy, white and colorless. As a lyric tenor he has a neatness and finish highly agreeable to oft-tortured ears. As a dramatic tenor, for the present at least, his voice has neither color not persuasiveness. This is clearly to be seen when we place his rendering of the "Di quella pira" in juxtaposition with that of the pretty duet, "Ai nostri monte." The latter, the lyric, was as pleasant as the former, the dramatic, was deficient.

Louise Homer as Azucena

Mme. Louise Homer has made a careful study of the part of Azucena; her rendering, vocally and dramatic, has fire and intensity. "Si la stanchezza" she gave with considerable delicacy and quiet pathos, in proper contrast with the tempestuous passion of her earlier scenes.

Madame Eames did, all things considered, some brilliant singing as Leonora, a part which requires great breadth of phrasing, and also a control over some of the intricacies and refinements of florid singing.

Her garments were often as mysterious as the workings of her hapless destinies. She wore long cloaks and purple veils, and her handsome face worked in continued agonies and drawn-out distresses, beneath a fine blond wig.

But somehow or other we do not suffer with Leonora. To use a phrase of Artemes Ward, she endures "2 mutch" to be quite credible.

M. Amato as the Count of the Moon, wherein he resembles other Italian counts, sang and played with a more than Sicilian eagerness and explosiveness.

Mr. Witherspoon sang Ferrando. He was a Ferrando from the oratorio platform. But as it does not very much matter where Ferrando comes from or where he goes to, Mr. Witherspoon can be excused for singing him.

Review of Pitts Sanborn in the Evening Globe


A quartet of American singers and Pasquale Amato of Italy had the five principal parts in the first performance this season of Verdi's "Trovatore" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. The Americans were Emma Eames and Louise Homer, soprano and alto, Ricardo (ne้ Hugh) Martin and Herbert Witherspoon, tenor and bass. They cheerfully joined with Mr. Amato in singing in Italian, and it is safe to say few who have heard "Il Trovatore" as a pillar of midsummer "Grand Opera in English" disapproved of their choice of a tongue.

Of course Mr. Martin had not expected to sing last night, but Mr. Caruso fell prey to the "sudden indisposition" that has been playing havoc with Metropolitan tenors this season, and Mr. Martin was called on to replace him as Manrico. Though Mr. Martin had sung that role with the San Carlo company, he could not very well help feeling nervous in undertaking it as a substitute for Mr. Caruso, and for two acts he showed plainly the weight of his responsibilities. Then at the end of the third he surprised everybody by singing both the lyrically graceful "Ah! Si ben mio" and the robustious "Di quella pira" in exceedingly creditable style. To be sure, his is not exactly a Manrico voice, but Manrico voices are rare. The most vigorous applause of a disappointed and indifferent house followed the third act, and Mr. Martin deserved the little triumph, even if he did make Manrico's C sound like a B.

Another American man in the cast was Herbert Witherspoon, who undertook the role of Ferrando, American men in opera are now less of a rarity than they used to be. Mr. Witherspoon's previous operatic experience at the Metropolitan consisted of a single performance of Titurel in "Parsifal," the ancient father of Amfortas, who is occasionally heard but scarcely seen. It is not surprising then, that Mr. Witherspoon should be little versed in stage routine. But the voice that has often given pleasure in the concert room is no less admirable in the opera house.

Admirers of Mme. Eames and admirers of "Il Trovatore" (whose number is still legion) wondered considerably last winter when the handsome singer from Maine assumed the role of Leonora. Where there's a will there's a way. By omitting, transposing, and making other alterations in the music assigned to Leonora, Mme. Eames keeps it generally from soaring more than a note or two above the staff and this restricted version she sang last night often fluently, smoothly, and with agreeable tone. To the eye she was a delight.

As Azucena Mme. Homer seems always to be at her best. Last night she imparted life to the performance whenever she was on the stage. Admirably vital, too, was the Comte de Luna of Mr. Amato. He sustained well the honor of Italy and his own fair fame, even if the beloved "Il balen" was not his most satisfactory singing of the evening.

The spirit that Mme. Homer and Mr. Amato infused into their work was particularly grateful in a performance that often tended to lameness. Some of this deficiency in vitality must be laid to Mr. Spetrino, who did not show himself an inspired or inspiring conductor. But if the orchestra provided little excitement, the chorus gave real pleasure, particularly in its beautifully shaded singing of the choral passages behind the scenes .

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