[Met Performance] CID:4260
Carmen {11} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/25/1885.

(Debuts: Lilli Lehmann, Carrie Goldsticker, Philip Lehmler, Max Alvary
Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 25, 1885
In German (Translator unknown)


CARMEN {11}
Bizet-Meilhac/L. Halévy

Carmen..................Lilli Lehmann [Debut]
Don José................Max Alvary [Debut]
Micaela.................Auguste Seidl-Kraus
Escamillo...............Adolf Robinson
Frasquita...............Anna Slach
Mercédès................Carrie Goldsticker [Debut]
Remendado...............Carl Kaufmann
Dancaïre................Otto Kemlitz
Zuniga..................Philip Lehmler [Debut]
Moralès.................Alexander Alexy

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

Set Designer............William Schaeffer
Set Designer............Gaspar Maeder
Set Designer............Mr. Thompson
Set Designer............Charles Fox, Jr.
Costume Designer........D. Ascoli
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian

Adolf Robinson repeated the Toreador Song.

[Note: After her marriage to Paul Kalisch, in February of 1888, Lilli Lehmann was sometimes listed in company programs as Kalisch-Lehmann.]

Carmen received four performances in German this season.

Review by W. J. Henderson, New York Times

The performance was principally notable as a means of introducing to the public Fräulein Lilli Lehmann, who, notwithstanding the fact that the "star system" has fallen into disuse at the Metropolitan, may fairly be referred to as a leading prima donna of the establishment. Fräulein Lehmann wrought at once a distinctly favorable impression. The new songstress possesses a powerful and ringing voice, of which only the lower tones are of rather inferior quality, and her phrasing and execution are most admirable. Considered as a vocalist, she is undoubtedly, with exception of Mme. Schoreder-Hanfstangl, the most finished songstress that has visited America in many years. Physically Fräulein Lehmann is comely as to countenance, though severe in expression, her bearing is dignified and most graceful, and her every movement denotes an artist of intelligence and experience. The audience was quick to recognize Fräulein Lehmann's excellences, and under its enjoyment of her work lay the conviction that in a more dramatic role she would approve [sic] herself one of the few performers potent to move critical hearers to enthusiasm.


Review of Henry E. Krehbiel in the Tribune


Bizet's charming opera was new in its German dress. In Herr Seidl's reading of the score there was less to admire than in his reading of "Lohengrin." It was not alone that the action and music moved with heavier feet than usual - this was largely the individual concern of the representatives of the different roles - but Herr Seidl's conception of the "tempi" of many of the pieces differed greatly from that to which the Italian conductors have accustomed us, and the change did not inure to the effectiveness of Bizet's more than ingenious score. Then, too, the dialogue was all spoken, and few Germans can make the change from music to speech agreeable to the ear. This is a doubtful expedient in opera at the best and it is doubly disappointing when the spoken dialogue is in a language which is not at all or only imperfectly understood.

Among the singers the interest centered chiefly in Fräulein Lehmann, who filled the title role. The lady came with an excellent reputation and sustained it in her acting as well as her singing. Her tall stature and almost military bearing were calculated to produce an effect of surprise which had to be overcome before the audience were ready to enter into the feeling which she infused into the part. To the eye she was a somewhat more matronly Carmen than the fancy is tempted to paint as the ideal heroine of Bizet's opera, and it was in harmony with the new picture that she stripped the character of the flippancy and playfulness which the public are inclined to associate with it, and intensified its sinister side. In this she deviated from Madame Hauk's impersonation and came nearer to that of Madame Trebelli. In her musical performance, however, she surpassed both of these experienced and ripe artists. Her voice is true, flexible, and ringing, and of most telling quality. She sings with perfect ease and her high notes have a fairly electrifying timbre and power. She has the ability to fill it with the passionate expression and warmth of color which the music of the part often calls for, and utilizes this ability with rare judiciousness and taste. In every respect her Carmen is a unique creation and her art as exhibited in it realizes expectation to the full.



Photograph of Lilli Lehmann as Carmen by E. Bieber, Berlin.



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