[Met Performance] CID:54651
Les Contes d'Hoffmann {7} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/12/1913.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 12, 1913


LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN {7}
Jacques Offenbach-Jules Barbier

Hoffmann................Carl Jörn
Olympia.................Frieda Hempel
Giulietta...............Olive Fremstad
Antonia.................Lucrezia Bori
Lindorf.................Basil Ruysdael
Coppélius...............Adamo Didur
Dappertutto.............Dinh Gilly
Dr. Miracle.............Léon Rothier
Nicklausse..............Jeanne Maubourg
Cochenille..............Albert Reiss
Pitichinaccio...........Angelo Badà
Frantz..................Albert Reiss
Luther..................Bernard Bégué
Nathanael...............Pietro Audisio
Hermann.................Paolo Ananian
Spalanzani..............Andrés De Segurola
Schlemil................Andrés De Segurola
Crespel.................Giulio Rossi
Mother's Voice..........Lila Robeson

Conductor...............Giorgio Polacco

Director................Jules Speck
Set designer............Burghart & Co.
Costume designer........Attilio Comell

TWO VERSIONS OF THE SAME STORY

Review in The New York Times, March 13, 1913

FREMSTAD SAVES AN OPERA
Takes Mme Duchene's Place on a Twenty-Minute Notice.

About fifteen minutes before the curtain rang up on the first act of "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" last evening at the Metropolitan Opera House, Mr. Gatti-Casazza's telephone rang and he was notified that Mme. Duchene had fainted just as she was starting from home and would be unable to appear as Giulietta in the opera that evening. Fortunately this character does not make her appearance until the second act, so that the General Manager of the opera company had a few minutes at his disposal.

There was but one thing to do. It was too late to change the opera and there was but one other member of the company who could sing this part, Mme. Fremstad, who sang it when the opera was first produced at the Metropolitan in December. Mr. Gatti-Casazza accordingly called up Mme. Fremstad and asked her if she would sing after the explaining the situation.

"Certainly," said the soprano, "I'm on my way down now."

Telling her maid to quickly pack up her costume she ordered her motor and it was less than twenty minutes before she was in the opera house. There was no wait necessary. William J. Guard came before the curtain to announce the change in cast and the announcement was received with applause by the audience.

"Mme. Fremstad's act was a particularly fine one," said a member of the business staff of the opera house. "A singer of her standing is not accustomed to make substitutions at the last minute, but she realized that it was too late to change the opera and that but for her the house would have to be closed. She did not hesitate a minute."

Miss Robeson sang Mme. Duchene's other part, that of Antonia's mother in the last act. The remainder of the cast was the familiar one, including Miss Bori, Miss Hempel, Mme. Maubourg, and Messrs. Jorn, Gilly, Rothier, Didur, Reiss, Rossi, and de Segurola. Mr. Polacco conducted.

-----------------------------------------------------

From The New York Herald Tribune, April 3, 1935, part of a farewell interview by Joseph W. Alsop, Jr. with Giulio Gatti-Casazza who was retiring after twenty-seven seasons as General Manager.

"Wait, I will tell you a little story. It is about Olive Fremstad, who used always to be complaining to me because her repertoire was entirely heroic, heavy roles. Over and over again she asked for something lighter.

"At last one year we were reviving the ‘Tales of Hoffmann,' so I called her in and said, ‘Now, my dear Olive, I have something for you. You may have the role of Giulietta, the courtesan.' At once she objected, but I reminded her of her desires, and she went to work on the role. Then there was the premiere. The role did not suit her. She was not good. All the critics roasted her. Everyone said, ‘Has Gatti gone mad to give Fremstad such a role?' And so she was a little angry, but she played only one more performance and gave up the idea of light roles." He smiled triumphantly, and slapped his knee.

"Wait, now, there is still a sequel," he went on. "Later that season the new Giulietta is caught in the elevator in her apartment; yes, in the elevator, stuck between two floors like Mahomet's coffin, between heaven and earth. She does not arrive at the house. There is great excitement. Everyone is called. No one can be found. There will be no Giulietta. There will be a scandal, for curtain is at hand. I go to the telephone. I call Fremstad. ‘Madame,' I say, ‘are you in bed?' She is surprised, ‘Yes,' she answers. ‘Why?'

"Now I must be careful, for she is sometimes temperamental. ‘Ah,' I say, ‘then I cannot dare to ask of you a favor which would have angered you in any case.' ‘What, angered me?' she exclaims. ‘Ah, yes,' I say, ‘you are so temperamental. The nerves, they are a little difficult.' Then she is piqued. She says she is not temperamental, which is untrue, and will do what I ask, and so I tell her the story of the elevator, and she is at the house in ten minutes. After the performance she comes to me with her eyes sparkling and says ‘Now Mr. Gatti, do I have a good character?' and I throw up my hands and shout, ‘The best in the world!' She even refused the check for the performance to show her good character." He chuckled delightedly until he shook all over, like a human jelly.

NOTE: According to the Pay Book in the Metropolitan Opera Archives, Fremstad was paid her fee of $1,000 for this performance.



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