[Met Performance] CID:49500
Orfeo ed Euridice {20}
Ballet Divertissement
. Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 12/27/1910.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
December 27, 1910


ORFEO ED EURIDICE {20}

Orfeo...................Louise Homer
Euridice................Marie Rappold
Amore...................Alma Gluck
Happy Shade.............Alma Gluck
Dance...................Marcelle Myrtille

Conductor...............Arturo Toscanini


BALLET DIVERTISSEMENT

The Dying Swan {7}
Anna Pavlova

Polish Dances {6}
Stanislava Kun
Stephania Plaskowietzkaia
Alina Schmolz
Sergei Moroseff
Mikail Moisseiew
Alexis Trojanowski
Veronine West
Bronislawa Pajitzskaia

Variations {6}
Mikail Mordkin

Russian Dances {6}
Bronislawa Pajitzskaia

Bacchanale {8}
Mikail Mordkin
Anna Pavlova

Conductor............Theodore Stier

Unsigned review in unidentified Philadelphia newspaper

HOMER'S FINE SUCCESS

Evening's Performance Included Dances by Famous Russian Artists.

It is a far cry from the music of Christopher Willibald von Gluck, pioneer of modernists in the writing of grand opera, to the latter-day Puccinis, Debussys or Strausses, but the years that have intervened since 1762, when Gluck's "Orpheo ed Euridice" was produced for the first time anywhere in the presence of a Viennese audience, do not seem so many when the melodies of that able composer fall upon the ear. At the Metropolitan Opera House last evening an audience of distinctly fashionable appearance listened with pleasure to the measures of this old and yet not antiquated opera, and was charmed by the beauty of the singing, the exquisite delicacy of the melodies, the grace and poetry of the dancing, and the varied completeness on the stage pictures. And "Orfeo" is an opera that lends itself finely to the genius of the stage manager, for there is a scene at the entrance to Hades, with many crawling lost souls wandering about; there is a delightful environment in the Elysian Fields, and there are gardens of the Temple of Love as well. It can be imagined that these opportunities for beauty or impressiveness of staging would be warmly welcomed by an ambitious and artistic stage manager, and in this instance the Metropolitan management has been most painstaking and most gratifyingly successful.

Gluck knew little and perhaps cared less for counterpoint, and so it is that there is a suggestion of archaic quaintness in the orchestration of his work. But at the same time the classic beauty of the melodic art is not missing and the theory that he evolved, to suit the music in the nature of the words or the situations, is well exemplified. He was the forerunner of Wagner and of the modern schools that have been inspired by the German propagandist, and it will he remembered that Gluck was a veritable storm centre in his age when there was a conflict between the older Italian adherents represented by Puccini and the new Gluckites. So in "Orphee and Euridice" there is much of exquisite melody, but nothing of floridity and even today the classic beauty of the work seems admirably suited to the story of Orpheus' search for Euridice and of his finding her in Elysium. The suggestion for some Greek frieze comes frequently in the music and in the reposeful groupings of the "shades" in their graceful posings to what is not unlike Mozartian melody, or in the bearing of Orpheus, Euridice. Amore, or the Happy Shade. And there are no other principals than just these four in the opera, and still more, there are only women in the leading roles. To Orpheus falls the major portion of the music and this contralto part, written well within the lower range of the voice of Louise Homer, was grateful to her in every way. A picturesque figure Mme. Homer made of her loose flowing tunic that came to the knees and splendidly she sang the part, too, with richness of quality especially manifest in the famous aria. "Che Faro." The Euridice was Marie Rappold, who sang with becoming sweetness; while the other two roles were sung by Alma Gluck, whose beautiful soprano entranced by its loveliness. Mme. Gluck is truly a find and for the Metropolitan Opera Company and her successes are the more notable because of the fact that her training has been entirely in this country. In fact, the three soloists of the evening are American women, and thus it happened that the cast had more than ordinary interest to those who know that in this country is to be found musical talent quite as fine as in any part of Europe.

The production was splendidly directed by Arturo Toscanini, whose musical intelligence is of the best and the thinness of the orchestration had less of objectionable quality under him than would perhaps have been the case with a less-skilled conductor. As has been intimated, the production was a triumph from the point of staging, and the dance of the Furies in the second act was as impressive in its way as was the quieter dancing of the Shades in Elysium. Marcelle Myrtille, who was the premiere in this latter dance, was the embodiment of grace, and her lovely posturings blended beautifully with the classic music. Enrico Caruso, the tenor, who was one of the audience occupying a box, seemed to enjoy the work quite as much as any other person in the house.

Following the opera there was a series of dances by Anna Pavlova, Mikail Mordkin and the Imperial Russian Ballet. The dances were repetitions of some of those already presented here by this talented company, and the applause for the feature was great indeed. In fact, society stayed later than was probably desired by those in charge of the Benedicks' ball, which was the other important social event of the evening.



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