[Met Performance] CID:67430
United States Premiere
Mârouf {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/19/1917.
 (United States Premiere)
(Ernest M. Gros, Livingston Platt
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 19, 1917

United States Premiere


MÂROUF {1}
Rabaud-Népoty

Mârouf..................Giuseppe De Luca
Saamcheddine............Frances Alda
Sultan..................Léon Rothier
Vizier..................Andrés De Segurola
Fattoumah...............Kathleen Howard
Ali.....................Thomas Chalmers
Fellah..................Angelo Badŕ
Ahmad...................Robert Leonhardt
Cadi....................Giulio Rossi
Sailor..................Albert Reiss
Muezzin.................Angelo Badŕ
Merchant................Angelo Badŕ
Merchant................Pompilio Malatesta
Muleteer................Pietro Audisio
Sheik-al-Islam..........Ludwig Burgstaller
Dance...................Rosina Galli
Dance...................Giuseppe Bonfiglio

Conductor...............Pierre Monteux

Director................Richard Ordynski
Set designer............Ernest M. Gros [Debut]
Costume designer........Livingston Platt [Debut]

Mârouf received six performances this season.

[Some costumes, designed by George Heil, derived from the 1912-1913 production of Die Zauberflöte.
Starting with this performance and for the duration of World War I, Ludwig Burgstaller listed his name in company programs as Burgh Staller and Robert Leonhardt billed himself as Robert Leonard.]

Unsigned review in the Herald

"MAROUF," OPERA COMIQUE, HAS AMERICAN PREMIERE

Henri Rabaud's New Work, Seen in Paris, Sung at Metropolitan

MME. ALDA IN LEADING ROLE; MR. DE LUCA TOO

Picturesque and Spectacular Production Enjoyed by First Night Audience - Music Colorful

With a story as bright and picturesque as a musical comedy and music as modern and serious as a symphonic poem, Henri Rabaud's opera comique "Marouf" last night had its first performance on this side of the Atlantic at the Metropolitan Opera House. The story is taken from the Arabian Nights Entertainments, and the composer is a conductor at the Paris Opera Comique where "Marouf" had its first performance a few weeks before war started. It is the first modern French opera to be produced at the Metropolitan since Gustave Charpentier's "Julien" was introduced here five years ago.

Every effort was made by the general manager, Giulio Gatti-Casazza, to give to the opera a suitable production. The cast was the best that could be assembled in a house where French singers are scarce. Elaborate new settings were prepared and the staging was highly picturesque.

Orchestration Skillful.

Perhaps the pictorial part of the production was the best part. Mr. Rabaud's music is melodious in parts, if not in long flowing arias. He is a skillful orchestrator. His score follows lightly and delicately the action. It is colorful, though hardly distinguished or original. Often the conductor held the orchestration to such an extent that it could barely be heard, and the simple but chromatic phrases of the singers might almost as well have been spoken as sung. In fact in many places the effect was words accompanied by swift moving colorful music in the orchestra. Rabaud has not followed the most modern French method in his harmonization. He was a conductor of Wagnerian operas in Paris, and something of the complicated thematic principle of Wagner has been employed in "Marouf," but always it is used with a refined French turn.

There are many humorous twists to the libretto, but most of them were missed because the enunciation was not perfect. Mr. de Luca in the principal rôle gave as good an account of himself as any Italian barytone could be expected to do in a French opera. He took his love making a little too seriously, it seemed. But he did sing his music well, and the part has many unusual difficulties. He was picturesque and his transformation from a henpecked husband plying the cobbler's trade in Cairo to a fake prince was well carried out. He was best as the distinguished son-in-law of the Sultan. If the audience had been able to get more of his words, it would have found his droll sayings very amusing, and whenever the action carried with it a hint of humor there was a ripple of laughter.

Mme. Alda the Princess.

Mme. Alda as the Princess was heard to good advantage. It is a rôle that is fitted to her voice. In fact, it is said that she was the first to call the attention of Mr. Gatti-Casazza to the opera, having heard it in Paris, where it was sung successfully at the Opera Comique. She sang her music with beautiful voice and acted her part with temperament. Her costumes were gorgeous, and in the last act, dressed as a boy, she put in a most neat and attractive appearance.

There were several bits of fine character acting in the production and the best was that of Mr. De Segurola who was heard, and more particularly seen, as the vizier to the Sultan. Mr. Rothier's diction, as the Sultan, was distinguished. He was the only French singer in the cast. He sang well, as he always does in mature character parts, and impersonated his role well.

Miss Howard was a vivacious Fatimah and Thomas Chalmers gave an excellent performance as Ali, the merchant who starts the complications of the plot by subtly suggesting to a poor cobbler fleeing from a bad tempered wife, that he might just as well pretend to be fabulously wealthy as long as he is in no danger of being found out. This deception results in Marouf becoming the husband of a princess. Apparently there is nothing wrong in the Arabay Nights or in the opera comique about a man's having two wives so long as one of them is a princess.

Much Cheerful and Humorous.

There it much about "Marouf" that is cheerful and humorous. There is a startling Oriental ballet in the second act with Miss Galli and Mr. Bonfiglio as principals. The third act is the most interesting. It contains more flowing melody than the others and the action is more interesting. It pictures the cobbler eloping with his Princess wife, forty days after their marriage, to escape being beheaded by her father and has a number of good laughs

The scenic decorations of "Marouf" were designed by Ernest Gros, a French artist living in New York. They are very effective. The scene of the magical Sultan's palace - (somewhere between Morocco and China) - in the second act is very good, and the dawn of the second scene in the first act is realistic. The opera has been well staged by Mr. Ordynski, and Mr. Monteux brought out many fine touches in the orchestra score. For those who like a good spectacle with good acting and singing, cheerful and colorful, "Marouf" will be interesting.



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