[Met Performance] CID:54500
Manon Lescaut {17} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/11/1912.

(Opening Night {28}
Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager

Debut: Giorgio Polacco

Metropolitan Opera House
November 11, 1912
Opening Night {28}

Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager

New production


Manon...................Lucrezia Bori
Des Grieux..............Enrico Caruso
Lescaut.................Antonio Scotti
Geronte.................Andrés De Segurola
Edmondo.................Angelo Badà
Innkeeper...............Paolo Ananian
Solo Madrigalist........Maria Duchène
Dancing Master..........Albert Reiss
Wigmaker................Luigi Morandi
Sergeant................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Lamplighter.............Pietro Audisio
Captain.................Giu. Rossi

Conductor...............Giorgio Polacco [Debut]

Director................Jules Speck
Set designer............Mario Sala
Costume designer........Adolfo Hohenstein

Manon Lescaut received six performances this season.

Review in the Evening Globe:

The audience which packed the Metropolitan Opera House last night for the opening of the opera season probably gathered with little definite expectation beyond that of hearing Mr. Caruso again. "Manon Lescaut," though by the adored Puccini, is not, it is safe to assume, especially familiar to most of the frequenters of the Metropolitan, though it was sung there a few times when Mme. Cavalieri was a member of the company. The young Spanish soprano, moreover, who was to make her début there as Manon, Miss Lucrezia Bori, was distinctly on probation, despite considerable heralding that preceded her coming. So the attitude of the audience in the early part of the evening was distinctly that of cool, polite attention, of waiting to be shown, but long before the opera was over the audience had proved itself one of the most enthusiastic that ever crowded the Metropolitan on an opening night.

"Manon Lescaut," it is hardly necessary to repeat was not originally to have opened the season. That honor had been reserved for a revival of "The Huguenots." However, the revival in question had to be postponed on account of the non-arrival from Berlin of Frieda Hempel, who was to have sung the role of the Queen, and as a revival of "Manon Lescaut" had been projected in any case, it was prepared for the opening night. Nor was it a bad idea to put on this "Manon Lescaut," for it served to introduce at the beginning of the season one of the most important, not the most important, of the few new singers announced for this year.

Miss Bori, the singer in question easily won the success that had been prophesied for her. She is young and can look still younger. If regularity of beauty has been denied her face, it has something better for stage purposes. It is interesting and expressive. She is slender and graceful, and her assurance and ease on the stage are those of the born actress. Her voice is a fresh lyric soprano of charming quality, especially in the highest register, and she sings more than commonly well. She has temperament, but she has also sufficient vocal and histrionic skill to be its master, not its slave. Her Manon won the audience very early through the naturalness, the simplicity, the unaffected feeling of her portrayal of the convent girl, who meets a lover at her first journey's end. But she was no less effective amid the luxury of Geronte's house, and in the later scenes of the misery and death her pathos rang unfailingly true. In fact Miss Bori's Manon has established her without further ado among the most interesting members of the Metropolitan company.

Mr. Caruso was not only in excellent voice, but he was pleased to sing with his finest artistry. He has some perfectly obvious disqualifications as an impersonator of the Chevalier des Grieux, but one minds them less in Puccini's opera than in Massenet's, and then he is perfectly at home in Puccini's music, as he is not altogether in Massenet's. The beauty of his singing throughout the evening and his magnificent sincerity when Des Grieux begs the captain to let him go with Manon to the New World were irresistible.

Mr. Scotti made a capital Lescaut and Mr. De Segurola a very good Geronte. Mr. Bada was overweighed vocally by the part of Edmondo. As a whole the performance moved with spirit and conviction, largely on account of the authoritative conducting of Mr. Polacco, who so far richly deserves the good things that have been said of him.

Review of Henry Krehbiel in the New York Tribune:

What Mme. Cavalieri failed to do for Signor Puccini's opera it seems very likely that Señorita Bori may succeed in doing. Not because of her acting, nor even because of her appearance (for in neither of these respects did she bear comparison with her predecessor), but because of her fine vocal skill, displayed at crucial moments. In the first act she was distinctly disappointing, Mixed with the rich organ tones of Signor Caruso, her voice seemed pallid and infantile. It could not assert itself at all and the little vitality given it by the purity of its timbre was crushed out by the rude playing of the orchestra, over which the new conductor Signor Polacco, exercised insufficient restraint. But when her opportunity came in the second act, she surprised the audience, critical and uncritical alike, by the real fineness of her vocal art-by an exquisite diction, impeccable intonation and moving pathos. There it was found, too, that the quality of the voice, and its perfect emission gave it ample carrying quality, though Signor Polacco succeeded in drowning it subsequently in the duet with Caruso, who seemed purposely to have modified his own glorious tones for her sake.

Photograph of Lucrezia Bori as Manon Lescaut by Herman Mishkin.

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