[Met Performance] CID:58050
La Bohème {130} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1914.

(Debuts: Luca Botta, Riccardo Tegani

Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1914 Matinee


LA BOHÈME {130}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Mimì....................Lucrezia Bori
Rodolfo.................Luca Botta [Debut]
Musetta.................Elisabeth Schumann
Marcello................Antonio Scotti
Schaunard...............Riccardo Tegani [Debut]
Colline.................Andrés De Segurola
Benoit..................Paolo Ananian
Alcindoro...............Paolo Ananian
Parpignol...............Pietro Audisio
Sergeant................Vincenzo Reschiglian

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

Director................Jules Speck
Costume Designer........Blaschke & Cie

La Bohème received eight performances this season.




Review of Algernon St. John-Brenon in the Telegraph

NEW TENOR IN "LA BOHEME"

Proves to Be Artist of Capability From Whom Things May Be Hoped

SOME THOUGHTS ON PUCCINI

Miss Elizabeth Schumann is Seen for the First Time -Big Audience Attended


"La Boheme" was revived yesterday afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera House. If you wish to make the Puccinisti snarl, mention to them casually that "La Boheme" is Puccini's masterpiece. It is; but they do not want to think so. Their souls go out to the higher elaboration and the lower inspiration of "Madame Butterfly," and the arrant artificiality and sophistication of "The Girl of the Golden West." But "La Boheme" is written from the heart and goes to the heart. The melodies, at once sweet, fresh and expressive, are in clear illustration of the idea and sentiments of the series of amiable episodes that the Italian librettists have borrowed from Henry Murger. The story of Mimi is a tender and pathetic one, and the music is well mated to its sad and human issues. Let it be said at once that the representation caught the full spirit of the work.

There is, indeed, not enough of this sort of opera. Blood and metaphysics seem to have a powerful attraction for the composers of dramatic music, though music should be remote from brutality, and can never be an adequate comment on metaphysical matters. Signor Puccini also avoids the faults of the German writers, heir lengthiness, their prolixity. As the Germans love an army with four million men, so with forgivable enthusiasm, they like an opera with a million notes. Puccini does not make this error. He is short and concise and therefore refreshing. He does not make a burden of enjoyment. His principle is right. The length of an artwork has nothing to do with its height. The performance yesterday was a good one, in spite of, perhaps, because of the fact that the younger members of the company had their opportunity. The big stars did not all blink at once.

There was a new tenor, an Italian, M. Luca Botta. A new tenor is always interesting. He irritates the ole ones. The operatic gnats buzz about the corridors asking. "Shall we sting him or shall we fly away?" M. Botta was evidently nervous. He was not aware that certain of the more agreeable forms of musical criticism current in Italy are not as yet practiced here. In that artistic land, when the tenor is bad the audiences tear up the seats and, aiming them at the conductor, manage to hit the first bassoons, meanwhile threatening the conductor with "il patibole." A form of torture too awful for young ears to hear. We ourselves are not impassioned. The higher aesthetics are as yet unknown to us. We do not, though we should often like to, massacre tenors. We take our art soberly. M. Botta's evident anxiety interfered with his efficacy as a singer, and with our chance of estimating him. But his voice is a good and warm one, capable of conveying dramatic feeling, though the high notes are not surprising, and in the high notes reside the climax of the tenor voice, or the spark that exploded the audience. But his stage manner was pleasant and vivacious and we look forward to seeing him again.

There was another newcomer. This was Miss Elizabeth Schumann, There is a name for you. There's musicality. It is as if an actress should call herself Rosalind Shakespeare. Miss Schumann is the new opera ingénue. Operatic ingenuousness is a wide and perhaps controvertible term. Miss Schumann was first seen in "Der Rosenkavalier" on Friday. Her singing was excellent, her ingenuousness questionable. The same must be said of her Musetta. Musetta was a grisette who in later and more respectable life was to develop into a shrew. She had the sharp tongue of the quarter in which she lived. She was sprightly, impulsive and not bad-hearted. Miss Schumann sang Musetta's music well enough but for Musetta herself she was too solemn and deliberate. I understand, however, that for various reasons Miss Schumann has had to learn many parts in many tongues, and in a short time, and that she is a bit bewildered.

Mlle. Lucrezia Bori is always a delight. Her voice rings with girlishness, her appearance is picturesque. She creates an illusion. And it is illusion that modern taste in opera demands. The world is tired of elderly dames, who, competing with the fluent luxuriousness of the potato sack in point of elegance of figure, sob out their amours lay over a middle-aged but still horizontally increasing tenor. Oh, no, I am not going to give any names. Don't you think it!

And there were some old friends in the cast - Antonio Scotti, buoyant and energetic as ever, and Andreas de Segurola, always so finished and careful in all the details that go to make up the exterior presentiment of a character. M. Giorgio Polacco conducted, and therefore the auditors of "La Boheme" could rest assured that the values of the music were duly set forth. I dropped my programme and, while picking it up, missed Paul Ananian's part; I trust not forever.





Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).