[Met Performance] CID:61870
World Premiere (Goyescas)
Goyescas {1}
Pagliacci {168}
Metropolitan Opera House: 01/28/1916.
 (World Premiere)
(Debuts: Anna Fitziu, G. B. Santoni
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 28, 1916


World Premiere


GOYESCAS {1}
Granados y Campina-Periquet y Zuaznabar

Rosario.................Anna Fitziu [Debut]
Fernando................Giovanni Martinelli
Pepa....................Flora Perini
Paquiro.................Giuseppe De Luca
Singer..................Max Bloch
Dance...................Rosina Galli
Dance...................Giuseppe Bonfiglio

Conductor...............Gaetano Bavagnoli

Director................Jules Speck
Set Designer............Antonio Rovescalli
Costume Designer........G. B. Santoni [Debut]

[Goyescas was the first opera performed in Spanish by the company and it received five performances this season. The costumes were inspired by the paintings of Goya.]


PAGLIACCI {168}

Nedda...................Ida Cajatti
Canio...................Enrico Caruso
Tonio...................Pasquale Amato
Silvio..................Riccardo Tegani
Beppe...................Angelo Badą

Conductor...............Gaetano Bavagnoli




Review of Richard Aldrich in The New York Times


Another new opera was produced at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening, the second of the list of novelties for this season. It was "Goyescas," music by Enrique Granados, book by Fernando Periquet. The opera is Spanish in subject and treatment, and great emphasis has been put upon the fact, interesting, but not perhaps of vital or epoch-making importance, that it was sung in Spanish and is the first opera ever to be sung in that tongue in the Metropolitan Opera House. It did not appear that the audience was profoundly moved by that fact. What did appear was that the music apparently greatly pleased the first-night audience, in which the Spanish colony of New York was largely represented.

The Spanish colony most rarely has an opportunity to celebrate the success of a fellow countryman in opera, and took the fullest advantage of this one. There was ecstatic applause after each of the first two tableaux and more at the end of the opera. The singers were again and again recalled. Mr. Granados came frequently; Mr. Periquet came; Messrs. Setti, Spech and Bavagnoli came, and none was left unhonored. Vast wreaths were given the two authors of the opera, a bronze one to Mr. Granados. The applause on this occasion doubtless had much of the fictitious value of first-night applause, to which was added the element of national pride. But there seemed to be evidence to show that the brilliantly exotic little opera-it lasts hardly an hour-had really made an impression an the general public, and that it may turn out to have more than the transitory attraction of many new additions to the operatic list.

It has been amply made known that by the title, "Goyescas," the authors of this opera intend to denote that their characters are such as are to be found on the canvases of the great Spanish painter Goya, who delighted in the national types, both aristocratic and popular. Goya, according to James Huneker's characterization, was "picador, matador, banderillero by turns in the bull ring . . . reckless to insanity, he never feared king or devil, man or Inquisition." He reincarnated the renaissance of old Spain and its art, and as a painter was of diabolic virtuoso skill. It can only be after a manner of speaking that Goya is recalled to the spectators of this opera. The heroine, Rosario, may suggest some traits of the Duchess of Alba, who was closely connected with Goya's history. The "majas" and "majos," popular types, whom he painted frequently, make up the chorus that has much to do in this opera. Their diversion of tossing the "pelele," or stuffed manikin, which Goya represented, is one of the picturesque details of the first tableau. The toreador, Paquiro, the young officer, Fernando, can hardly be claimed as peculiar to Goya or to this opera.

There is no question that the opera is intensely Spanish in its whole texture and feeling; that it is charged with the atmosphere of the country and vibrates through and through with the musical quality of Spain as does no other opera and no other music that has been heard here. The music is Spanish, coming from the brain and heart of a real Spaniard. Spanish music has occupied a curious place since the exploitation of nationalism in music first began, well along in the nineteenth century. Composers of other nationalities have been enamored of Spanish rhythms, Spanish melodic traits, Spanish musical color; Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Norwegians, Hungarians, Poles and Russians have long found pleasure in utilizing these materials either in transcriptions or in original compositions based on what they have been able to assimilate of Spanish music. But how many Spanish musicians have there been, of cosmopolitan standing, known beyond the confines of the Pyrenees, who have done for their native music what Chopin, Liszt, Grieg, Dvorįk, the neo-Russians, have done for theirs? Sarasate did something of the sort in the elegant manner of a virtuoso. Isaac Albeniz did something in a more poetical, more suggestive style, though he saw his native land through the veil of the modern Frenchman. Beyond these two it would be hard to name any Spanish musician who has interpreted Spain for the rest of the world till Mr. Granados came with this full-blooded, passionate utterance, sometimes stirring in its characteristic rhythms and frank melody, sometimes languorous, poetical, profoundly pathetic, subtly suggestive.

The Spain that is embodied in his music is authentic. And yet possessing as it does an intensely national color, what he has written is a personal, individual expression. Nor does he fall into the easy commonplaces to which Spanish tunes and rhythms are so often a tempting invitation. There is here something deeper, more profoundly felt. The Spain that is pictured in "Goyescas" is something very different from the "hot night disturbed by a guitar" that has been ironically said to be the sum and substance of Spain in music. Mr. Granados has a rich and unconventional harmonic feeling, though he does not follow those who are most conspicuous in the exploitation of "modern" harmony. His harmonic scheme is elaborate, and gives a peculiar distinction, warmth and brilliancy to his style. This music has a haunting power. It would be too much to say that the opera is a great contribution to modern art, or even that it approaches greatness; but it is genuine and vital.

The dramatic quality of "Goyescas" is not of outstanding value. The drama is scarcely more than a sketch; there is little action; the development of motive is inadequate, hardly more than indicated. The high-born lady Rosario with her high-born lover, Fernando, appears in the midst of the crowd of majos and majas. The toreador, Paquiro, speaks a few words to her, reminding her of a common ball she once attended, inviting her to go again. Fernando's jealousy is aroused; he tells her that she must go again and with him. Why, and why all the uneasiness, anxiety and despair over it? The high-born couple go to the ball, with what the assembled company considers extraordinary daring. There is considerable talk about rivalry, for which Rosario has given no ground, about valor; and then there is a challenge, though for what reason cooler spirits of the North have difficulty in discerning. In the final tableaux Fernando takes his farewell of Rosario, rushes out to the duel behind the scene, is mortally wounded, returns and dies in his sweetheart's arms. The principal figures of this brief tale have little individuality; they are operatic lovers and little more. The life they have they derive from the vitality of Mr. Granados's music.

There is a short and lively overture. The [first] scene is of surpassing brilliancy; the gathering of people sings the joy of a holiday in Madrid, in a chorus of great tunefulness and verve to which the orchestra adds a brilliant figuration. Mr. Granados leans heavily on the chorus all through the opera, and writes for it with skill and effectiveness. The highly spirited chorus now changes into a welcome' for Pepa, arriving in her dog cart; there is a new rhythmic impulse quite as irresistible as the preceding. There is characteristically insinuating Spanish melody-clinging a little to the Rosalien that perhaps are part of its nature-in the scene where the high-born lady arrives seeking her lover. This is indeed based on a Tonadilla, a popular song. The music of this scene is a remarkable tour de force in vivid color, rapid movement, and vivacious expression.

The intermezzo that preceded the next tableau is an interesting piece of orchestral writing, in which the composer has ingeniously made use of some of his most characteristic tunes with changed rhythms in transformations and combinations. It leads directly to the strongly rhythmed galliard with its insistent triplet figure that they are dancing in the "Baile de Candid," the "lantern-lighted ball," the subject of so much uneasiness, the scene of a rather obscure insult and the ensuing challenge. Here is more local color piled thick, in the dance music and the swinging choruses. The declamatory passages in which Rosario, Paquiro, Fernando and Pepa participate are skillfully treated, accompanied as they are by the constant pulse of the orchestra in the dance rhythm, interrupted only for a time, to close with a still more strongly marked finale, with a mocking solo by one of the men above the chorus and the dancing, in which now the fandango is performed.

It leads into an interlude, which prepares for a very different mood in the last tableau. Rosario is sitting in the garden of her villa and listens to the nightingale, whose song suggests to her pensive reveries about love. The long and sustained air is of beautiful musical quality, certain of its phrases being of much sweeping grace and poignancy. Fernando comes; and the same mood is continued in the succeeding love duet, similar in its general character. There is the brief interruption of the duel, and then Fernando comes back to die. The utterance of the two lovers rises to an impassioned climax, and the end comes in the orchestra breathing a pianissimo. Much of the music of the opera is already familiar to concert-goers of New York, though perhaps not to a large proportion of the opera-goers, through the performance by Ernest Schelling and the composer himself of the pianoforte transcriptions that Mr. Granados has also entitled "Goyescas."

It may be doubted whether the performance of this brilliant and intensely colored little work realizes all that it might be made to yield. It is difficult in certain parts, notably the chorus. The chorus sings its music in many ways admirably, with precision, elasticity, and vigor; and its contribution was one of the most enjoyable features of the performance. There might be question whether a conductor of more subtlety and authority than Mr. Bavagnoli, one who bad gained a more definite and secure knowledge of the score, might not penetrate deeper into its essence, bring out certain finer features; gain something in delicacy and intensity in the orchestra as well as in the choruses, not sacrificing so much to rhythmic swing and sonorities, but securing these without boisterousness and main strength.

The four chief parts were presented competently, in certain aspects admirably, last evening, though not always with the greatest distinction. For the heroine Rosario, Miss Anna Fitziu was engaged, a newcomer to the Metropolitan Opera House. She is in face, figure and personal presence not conspicuously fitted to portray the aristocratic Spanish lady. She showed sufficient familiarity with stage routine, however, and presented a figure at least plausible. Her voice is not notable for warmth or expressiveness; but there were some passages that she sang with success, especially in the last tableau, in her song to the nightingale and her duet with Fernando.

Mr. Martinelli made the best of a part not very intelligently defined in a dramatic sense by the librettist, and sang with fervor. Mr. de Luca imparted a characteristic note to his impersonation of the toreador, Paquiro, and did some praiseworthy singing. Pepa, represented by Mme. Perini, emerges but for a few moments into conspicuousness. She gave a proper spirit to the popular maja, though her singing left something to be desired in beauty of tone and vocalization. None of the singers who took part in this production, singing in Spanish, is a Spaniard; wherefore the perfection of the Spanish accent and diction cannot be guaranteed. It is said that some of it, notably Miss Fitziu's, was not bad. The dancing of Rosina Galli and Giuseppe Bonfiglio in the galliard and the fandango had an immense gusto and allurement.

The management bas done more for the stage setting of this opera than it has for some other of the recent productions. The first scene, representing a popular gathering place on the outskirts of Madrid, is picturesque. There is a suggestion of Lillias-Pastią's well-known establishment in the setting of the "lantern-lighted ball." The villa with the garden in the moonlight and the dark row of trees is exceptionally well designed and executed. The opportunity for Spanish costuming was properly availed of.



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