[Met Performance] CID:53760
Manon {37} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/30/1912.

(Debut: Maria Savage
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 30, 1912 Matinee


MANON {37}
Massenet-Meilhac/Gille

Manon...................Geraldine Farrar
Des Grieux..............Enrico Caruso
Lescaut.................Dinh Gilly
Count des Grieux........Léon Rothier
Guillot.................Albert Reiss
Brétigny................Andrés De Segurola
Poussette...............Lenora Sparkes
Javotte.................Jeanne Maubourg
Rosette.................Maria Duchène
Innkeeper...............Paolo Ananian
Guard...................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Guard...................Bernard Bégué
Maid....................Maria Savage [Debut]

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

Director................Jules Speck
Set Designer............Antonio Rovescalli
Costume Designer........Maison Chiappa

[Althouth the Maid was not listed in the program at this performance, the chorus paybook indicates that Maria Savage appeared in the role as she did in subsequent presentations of Manon this season.]

Manon received three performances this season.

Review of Algernon St. John Brenon in the Telegraph

CARUSO IS HEARD IN FRENCH OPERA

Appears in Massenet's "Manon" With Geraldine Farrar Cast in the Name Part.

The "Manon" of Jules Massenet, not to be confounded with the more fervent "Manon Lescaut" of Puccini, was revived yesterday afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera House. The world has pretty much determined by now the place occupied by M. Massenet among operatic composers. There was a time when witty admirers, whose facility in the mongering of epigrams was stronger than their aesthetics, dubbed him "Mlle. Wagner." Both terms of the appellation are unfair. The implication of Mademoiselship is unfair. He is not to be mentioned in the same breadth as Wagner. It is true that he makes use, especially in "Manon," of leading motives or short, characteristic and salient themes that are a musical description or suggestion of this or that person in the opera. There are fifteen of them. But to use for one of the clumsy jargon of courtroom pedants this particular thematic material is not of any great value.

The themes are "proclaimed" again and again, while the wit of music in the background, or of which they are a part, is of no particular strength. At the same time it is not to be denied that "Manon" is so contrived that it gives great pleasure to a number of operagoers whose taste it is quite right to consult. Yesterday's production is also an earnest one that it is the intention of M. Gatt-Casazza to broaden the repertory of the Metropolitan, already a capacious one, in the direction of French opera. It would be fallacious reasoning, however, to deduce from the overflowing house that listened to "Manon" yesterday afternoon that the patronage of the Metropolitan is hungering for "Manons," "Esclarmonde" and "Werther." The house is always crowded at Saturday matinees.

Caruso Again Interests.

The interest centered yesterday on M. Caruso's reappearance in French opera. He has made some attempts in this direction of late years. He has sung in "Carmen," in "Faust" and in "Armide," if this may properly be called a French opera. In "Carmen" and in "Faust" he disappointed himself so clearly that he has not cared to appear as Faust or Don José again. In "Armide" he sang with sincere aptitude and taste. In "Manon" the French language is a distinct hindrance. Every one except the most passionate devotee of Gallicism is aware that the French language is not the most grateful language to sing in.

Let any one who doubts this step to the piano and sing the French word "singulier." M. Caruso, in a praiseworthy attempt to enunciate French quite correctly, darkened, lightened and nasalized his tones. This so altered the whole color of his voice that there were times when, had he been concealed from his hearers, many of them would have denied it was Caruso that was singing. Not that there were not also moments when he was nearly himself. He was most so, when he threw French ortheopy to the winds and gave his voice full swing. Consonants suffered and mincing French vowels were broadened out to unrecognizable length and dignity. He sang "Mano," although it was written "Manon." Academically considered, this is all wrong. But what singer will remain academic when he sees his audience slipping out of his hands?

Miss Geraldine Farrar made a pretty picture as Manon, but vocally her rendering had many certain deficiencies. The moment she attempts to give force to her voice it loses in beauty and musicality. The moment she bridles her voice, as the nature of the music compels such restraint, it regains its charm. In these senses she has not altered from the day she made her debut in "Roméo et Juliette." In many ways she is a brilliant artist, but she is not destined for roles that are vocally dramatic, nor is she felicitous in the more emotional parts of rôles that suit her otherwise.

Their Voices Resonant.

M. Leon Rothier and M. Dinh Gilly showed in everything they did the splendid training given to French artists by French masters. Their voices were resonant, their enunciation irreproachable. Arturo Toscanini conducted. Seated in one of the boxes was Mme. Frances Alda, who has sung the Manon many times in France. If, as is quite probable, "Manon" becomes a part of the repertory of the Metropolitan next year, it is to be hope that this artist will be heard in a rôle in which she has won golden opinions. It is not necessary that she concentrate all her sweetness on Desdemona.



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