[Met Performance] CID:67040
La Bohème {155} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/16/1917.

(Debut: Ruth Miller
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 16, 1917


LA BOHÈME {155}
Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

Mimì....................Frances Alda
Rodolfo.................John McCormack
Musetta.................Ruth Miller [Debut]
Marcello................Giuseppe De Luca
Schaunard...............Adamo Didur
Colline.................Andrés De Segurola
Benoit..................Pompilio Malatesta
Alcindoro...............Robert Leonhardt
Parpignol...............Pietro Audisio
Sergeant................Vincenzo Reschiglian

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Director................Richard Ordynski
Costume designer........Blaschke & Cie

La Bohème received seven performances this season.


Review of Richard Aldrich in The New York Times

A very large audience thronged the Metropolitan Opera House last evening for the first performance this season of Puccini's La Bohème, which has become one of the pillars of the repertory prevailing there. The size of the audience was no doubt largely due to the popularity of Mr. John McCormack, who appeared as Rodolfo, one of the four irrepressible Bohemians. It was Mr. McCormack's first appearance as a member of the company of the Metropolitan Opera House, but it was not his first appearance on that stage, which he made in the season of 1911 as a member of the Chicago Opera Company in Victor Herbert's opera of Natoma. Before that he was heard numerous times at the Manhattan Opera House. He is engaged at the Metropolitan for only a few performances.

It was perhaps not wholly fortunate that Mr. McCormack reappeared here first in this opera, for the part is not one best adapted for him. It needs a livelier dramatic temperament than his is, a potency of more passionate expression than he can give in either his singing or his action. First, in the first act, where there is much roistering and, last evening at least, considerable shouting, he was not conspicuous in the mêlée; nor in the duet with Mimi did he express the sudden surge of passion that overflows at their meeting.

The voice is a light one; it necessarily lacks some of the swelling and stentorian effects that have become familiar in La Bohème, and which, in large part, it was written to provide. But what Mr. McCormack contributed here, and later in the opera was much beautiful singing, of its kind unsurpassable in quality of tone, in purity of diction, in finish of phrase, and in most of the subtler graces of the art that are not always the first to be recognized. There are other operatic works in which it may be hoped he will be heard wherein Mr. McCormack's extraordinary qualities as a singer will count for more than they do in La Bohème.

A young American soprano, Miss Ruth Miller, made her first appearance as Musetta, a part that has been made in recent years the subject of experiment. It was something of an ordeal for Miss Miller, who is said to have had little operatic experience and who may well have been overwhelmed with a handicap of nervousness. There were glimpses-a very few, it is true-of a voice of excellent possibilities, but her singing was not agreeable. The voice was pinched and often shrill and, though she showed some understating of the part, her representation on the whole left a good deal to be desired. Miss Miller will doubtless do better when she feels more composure on the Metropolitan stage.

There was to be also the first appearance of Thomas Chalmers, the American baritone, newly added to the company, but the fact that he is needed today in Faust caused Mr. Didur to be substituted for him in the part of Schaunard. Mr. de Luca and Mr. Segurola were the Marcello and Colline. Mme. Alda, whose Mimi is a familiar feature at the Metropolitan, sang better in the third act than in the first. She has, in fact, rarely sung better. Mr. Papi conducted creditably, though he was not averse to volumes of orchestral tone sometimes large enough to cover the singers.



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