[Met Performance] CID:70100
Carmen {246} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1918.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1918


CARMEN {246}
Bizet-Meilhac/L. Halévy

Carmen..................Geraldine Farrar
Don José................Giulio Crimi
Micaela.................May Peterson [Last performance]
Escamillo...............Robert Couzinou
Frasquita...............Lenora Sparkes
Mercédès................Sophie Braslau
Remendado...............Angelo Badà
Dancaïre................Paolo Ananian
Zuniga..................Andrés De Segurola
Moralès.................Mario Laurenti
Dance...................Rosina Galli

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

Director................Richard Ordynski
Set designer............Mario Sala
Set designer............James Fox
Costume designer........Giuseppe Palanti

Carmen received five performances this season.


Review of Max Smith in the American

To the delight of every one present "Carmen" took its place in the repertory of the Metropolitan Opera Company last night. Say what one may regarding this work - and much has been said, both pro and con, and still can be said - Merimee's gypsy, with the rhythm and melody of Bizet throbbing in her veins, continues to exert her charm on men and women alike. It matters little, apparently, how she is impersonated - for soprani, mezzo-soprani and contralti of various nationalities, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Scandinavian, American and of varying vocal equipment, have won success in the roles - baffling cigar girl of Sevilla comes to life again perennially, one the worse for wear.

Of course, she again wove her spell last night. Whatever one may think of Geraldine Farrar's portrayal, with its blend of Yankee sauciness and Irish coquetry, her embodiment, it must be conceded, combines vital force with artistic skill and rises to moments of genuine dramatic potency, even when the American prima donna is not well disposed, as was unmistakably the case yesterday.

On this occasion, however, interest was deflected in a measure from the capricious heroine. The exposition of the love-crazed Don Jose's woes had been entrusted for the first time in New York to Signor Crimi, and the new Escamillo of Robert Couzinou also attracted a certain amount of attention. There was nothing, though, to distract the opera goes unduly. May Peterson had sung Micaela repeatedly last season and most of the other parts were in sufficiently familiar names. Nor as it to be anticipated that Pierre Monteux's scholarly reading of the score would cause any palpitation of the heart.

If it is true, as reported, that Giulio Crimi was not only singing Don Jose for the first time in New York but for the first time anywhere, he deserves more praise than some critical persons were disposed to give him. His treatment of the French text was not what one would have expected from a Frenchman, of course. Yet did Signor Crimi cope more successfully with the gallic diction than the average singer of his nationality. Who does not recall Caruso's first awkward attempts?

No doubt Crimi's impersonation of Don Jose will gain in vigor and masculine energy. The contrast between soldier and lover was not strongly marked last night. An ingratiating and sympathetic portrayal this, rather than forceful and tragically tense. But the sustained lyric beauty of the singer's voice was not wasted upon the listener, and the "Flower Song" given with genuine sincerity and warmth of feeling, did not fail to win approval from unpartisan listeners. There was real pathos too, in his performance of the final scene.

Need one say that Geraldine Farrar injected a few novel ideas into her delineation of Carmen? Surely one may always count at least, on one or two new sartorial expedients from the versatile soprano, such as the elaborate, and, truth to tell, rather inappropriate, finery she wore on her first entrance. But some of the histrionic modulations Mme. Farrar introduced into her interpretation last night were probably due to her condition. She had less than her usual supply of breath and her voice lacked power and resonance, especially in the lower register. For that reason, presumably, a good deal of the music allotted to her was elevated half a tone above the original key - the "Habanera" and the "Seguidilla" for example, and the "Gypsy Song" which opens the second act.

Robert Couzinou evoked much applause with his performance of the Toreador's song. Yet is his voice somewhat too light in timbre and texture for the robust music of the bullfighter. Miss May Peterson still seems somewhat formal in her bearing on the stage. Here clear ringing voice, however, was heard to great advantage in the two arias of Micaela.

Leonora Sparkes as Frasquita, Sophie Braslau as Mercedes, Paolo Ananian as the Dancaire, and Angelo Bada as Remendado, fulfilled their individual duties adequately. But the famous quintet of the second act left a good deal to be desired in vocal balance and unanimity of effort. Andrés de Segurola brought dignity and good manners to the part of Zuniga. Mario Laurenti sang the part of Morales well. Rosina Galli delighted as usual in the choreographic exhibition of the last act.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).