[Met Performance] CID:70020
Aida {236} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/13/1918.

(Debut: Giulio Crimi
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 13, 1918


AIDA {236}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Claudia Muzio
Radamès.................Giulio Crimi [Debut]
Amneris.................Louise Homer
Amonasro................Thomas Chalmers
Ramfis..................Adamo Didur
King....................Louis D'Angelo
Messenger...............Pietro Audisio
Priestess...............Marie Sundelius
Dance...................Queenie Smith

Conductor...............Roberto Moranzoni

Director................Richard Ordynski
Set designer............Mario Sala
Set designer............Angelo Parravicini
Costume designer........Maison Chiappa

Aida received eleven performances this season.


Review of James Gibbons Huneker in The New York Times


AIDA GIVES NEW TENOR HIS DEBUT

Giulio Crimi Sings Radames and Receives a Thundering Ovation.

MME. MUZIO IN TITLE ROLE

Thomas Chalmers Superb as the Barbaric King-Excellent Performance and Splendid Production.

The second opera of the season last night at the Metropolitan Opera House was "Aida," and sung in Italian. A new tenor, Giulio Crimi, was the Radames, but the rest of the cast was composed of familiar artists. A new baritone did not appear and Amonasro was sung by Thomas Chalmers. Luigi Montesanto is the name of the missing one who has just arrived from Buenos Aires. Claudia Muzio, Louise Homer, Adamo Didur, D'Angelo, and Marie Sundelius were ample guarantees that the performance, conducted by Signor Moranzoni, would be an excellent one. And it was. There was not a person in the large audience who did not declare that the Verdi work should have been sung the [first] night, because of its militant spirit, of its hymn to victory and the general appositeness of the moving tale. But Manager GattiCasazza was not supposed to know that last Monday would be the precise date for the stupendous announcement of peace. In this prosaic, everyday world matters do not always arrange themselves so happily, so operatically.

Certainly "Aida" is an ideal opera with which to begin the lyric season. It is in the same category with "Prophète," "Huguenots," and all such tuneful pageants with which to catch the ears of the public, fashionable and musical. Its massive decorations, its imposing choruses, its exotic atmosphere and romantic story and richly colored music make it a perennial favorite. Leaning on Meyerbeer at times, it is indomitably Verdi to the core. It is also Verdi at the parting of the ways. The greater Verdi was soon to appear. "Aida" was not written to celebrate the completion of the Suez Canal, nor yet to open the Italian Opera House at Cairo, Egypt. These beliefs, common enough, are what good old Sir Thomas Browne would have classified as "vulgar errors." However, the Khedive, Ismail Pasha, did commission Verdi to write an opera, and he consented, but fate ordained that neither the Suez Canal nor the Cairo Opera House [inaugural performance] were consecrated by "Aida." It may be interesting to his old admirers to know that the late Edouard de Reszke was the original King in the Paris performance, 1876.

Every one who goes to "Aida" has always heard it sung better. There were even doubters in the times of Italo Campanini, and doubtless some critic shrugged shoulders the night of the premiere at Cairo. Therefore, if you were in the mood last night there were several matters to criticize. But if you took the performance by and large, minor shortcomings were overshadowed by the admirable ease with which the mechanism operated. The chorus was superb, hence the big climax at the end of Act II was tellingly achieved, the stage pictures magnificent, the evolution of the multitude effective. The various ballets were perfectly danced, the little Senegambians arousing more than the usual interest. Queenie Smith's solo dancing was wholly delightful. She got a round of applause. Those-ahem! they must be early Egyptians, but they were archaic and colorful. The stage settings were picturesque throughout.

The debut of Giulio Crimi was successful. Punctually at 8 o'clock Maestro Moranzoni lifted his baton; precisely at ten minutes after the hour Signor Crimi was launched in his "Celeste Aida," as trying a test for any tenor as may be found in the literature of opera, not because the charming music is of supreme technical difficulty; but that it forces a singer so speedily in the thick of the vocal fight. Sing or forever after hold your peace! it seems to say. Many a tenor of sound calibre has met his Waterloo in this tantalizing aria. Crimi was undoubtedly nervous. It was a handicap, as his phrasing was choppy, his emission labored in spots, and a naturally resonant and agreeable organ was not heard at its best. He sang with considerable power, and proved himself to be a routinière. He employed too often an effect which the French call "larmoyant "-and it pleased his auditory. He received a thundering ovation after Act III, especially. Luckily as the evening waxed he sang with more repose, and his voice triumphantly emerged from its early cloudiness. He could make it heard in the heaviest ensembles. He was a former member of the Chicago Opera Company. His personality is attractive. As a conquering warrior he lacks inches, but then, so do most tenors.

Thomas Chalmers has sung Amonasro elsewhere, though never at our Opera House. His barbaric King was a pleasant surprise. For one thing, his voice, rich and unforced, stood out among the other male voices because of its mellifluousness. His dramatic assumption was fiery and tempered by tact. He made a decided impression.

Claudia Muzio in the title rôle won her share of applause. As an interpretation her Aida has not changed much since last season, except on the histrionic side. Her singing, like the curate's egg, is good in spots. She worked tremendously in the concerted numbers, and made her voice tell against that huge tonal forest in the early acts. Of sheer sensuous beauty there is not much to boast in her voice. But there is talent, temperament, and earnestness, a trinity of qualities that usually wins. She was a handsome creature and an object of admiration. Louise Homer's Amneris was a tower of strength, and as she was in splendid form there is little to record except that she it was who returned victor! She was recalled many times. After Act II the principals all bowed in response to the enthusiasm of the audience. Roberto Moranzoni with the rest. His conducting deserves warm commendation. Marie Sundelius was the Priestess, Didur the Ramfis, and D'Angelo the King.



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