[Met Performance] CID:70380
World Premiere
Il Trittico {1}
Il Tabarro {1}
Suor Angelica {1}
Gianni Schicchi {1}
Metropolitan Opera House: 12/14/1918.
 (World Premiere)
(Debuts: Kitty Beale, Mary Ellis, Galileo Chini, Pietro Stroppa, Mario Malatesta
Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 14, 1918

World Premiere


IL TRITTICO [1]

IL TABARRO [1]
Puccini-Adami

Giorgetta...............Claudia Muzio
Luigi...................Giulio Crimi
Michele.................Luigi Montesanto
Frugola.................Alice Gentle
Talpa...................Adamo Didur
Tinca...................Angelo Badà
Song Seller.............Pietro Audisio
Lover...................Marie Tiffany

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

Director................Richard Ordynski
Designer................Pietro Stroppa [Debut]

[Alternate title: The Cloak.]


SUOR ANGELICA {1}
Puccini-Forzano

Angelica................Geraldine Farrar
Princess................Flora Perini
Genovieffa..............Mary Ellis [Debut]
Osmina..................Margarete Belleri
Dolcina.................Marie Mattfeld
Monitor.................Marie Sundelius
Abbess..................Rita Fornia
Head Mistress...........Cecil Arden
Lay Sister..............Marie Tiffany
Lay Sister..............Veni Warwick
Novice..................Phyllis White
Alms Collector..........Kitty Beale [Debut]
Alms Collector..........Minnie Egener

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

Director................Richard Ordynski
Designer................Pietro Stroppa


GIANNI SCHICCHI {1}
Puccini-Forzano

Gianni Schicchi.........Giuseppe De Luca
Lauretta................Florence Easton
Rinuccio................Giulio Crimi
Nella...................Marie Tiffany
Ciesca..................Marie Sundelius
Zita....................Kathleen Howard
Gherardo................Angelo Badà
Betto...................Paolo Ananian
Marco...................Louis D'Angelo
Simone..................Adamo Didur
Gherardino..............Mario Malatesta [Debut]
Spinelloccio............Pompilio Malatesta
Amantio.................Andrés De Segurola
Pinellino...............Vincenzo Reschiglian
Guccio..................Carl Schlegel

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

Director................Richard Ordynski
Designer................Galileo Chini [Debut]

Il Trittico received seven performances this season.

Responding to audience applause, Florence Easton repeated "O mio babbino caro."


Review of W. J. Henderson in the Evening Sun:

IT REMAINS TO BE SAID

...well, indeed, but little remains to be said of the three new Puccini pieces which had their world premiere at the Metropolitan Saturday evening. In this age of swift reports and swifter criticism the news of this brilliant occasion in the history of opera in New York would now be only repetition, with hardship rewarmed. Whatever can be said here, therefore, must be by way of second thought (if any thought at all) and deserves a respite from the mere telling that three new operas, one act apiece, were sung by so many artists to the tune of so much applause. Suffice that, large claque and all, the applause was genuine and spontaneous and came at such moments as the score, as well as the artist, deserved it.

The "chilling shocker" has always been blood brother of the opera - not always perhaps, but ever since Mascagni brought the barnyard and Leoncavallo the mountebanks to the Italian operatic stage, Puccini himself has weltered in melodrama: There is no libretto more excruciating than "La Tosca." The Grand Guignol appeals to him as a fund of inspiration quite as strongly as it did to Holbrook Blinn, so recently, in this season of one act "curdlers."

Wherefore - "Il Tabarro." It is after "La Houppelaude" by Didler Gold; after it, but certainly not far behind it in horror and repulsiveness. The cloak which hides a man's sorrow and guilt - which, in fact, shrouds the corpse of his wife's lover - is flung to the Paris breezes only at the end of the play. For as in all such pieces, "Il Tabarro" saves it solitary bit of swift action until the last moment. Before that it is all a sullen, silent struggle of ill tempered wills - a picture of life aboard a scow which lies at a Paris Wharf, with the Seine lapping by interminably, like a broad, slimy, slowly curling tongue of Fate.

It is one of those eternal triangles without apology. Puccini makes music of distinction to suit it; music of high craftsmanship, of strategic delineation and tactical expressiveness. But he does not somehow infuse it with the power and vigor which belong there until the last - when to suit the heat and horror of the denouement his orchestral writing writhes out into bars which bite deep. There is a large, slightly hollow hymn to the river sung by the old husband as he sits astern and broods upon his household problems. There is a light, rapid bit for an old rag picker of a woman. There is a burlesque snatch to "Primavera" sung from the street corner above the wharf. There is a storm-impassioned reminder of the younger Puccini where the two lovers wail upon their guilty passion. For the rest it is mostly the low, moaning rhythm, unhurried and unending, of the river of Fate. Neither in this opera nor the other two which follows was there more than an occasional vestige of the sustained melody which, like a heady, even if light, wine characterizes "Butterfly" and "Boheme."

But "Il Tabarro" made its mark unquestionably; the ovation accorded its singers at the end of it was proof enough. Though the performers themselves were as much to blame for this; their acting was much alive and effective, and their singing quite excellent. In the husband Mr. Montesanto has a part which is equal in opportunities to that of the father in "Louise"; he did it well, no doubt, and yet he did not come close to the limit of those possibilities. Alice Gentle and Mr. Didur were excellent in their short character parts, but the honors of the audience went to Claudia Muzio, the beauty of the barge, who grows in favor and in capability from year to year. She not only sang well, but looked handsome - looked her role and acted it as if she knew it.

The andante of the evening was afforded by "Suor Angelica," built upon more musicianly lines and upon a theme at least more stately. Theme is dignity unalloyed, majesty untempered, reverence unlimited in "Suor Angelica." There are conscious efforts to lighten the score by the introduction of trivial incidents - the arrival of a stock of good food into the nunnery courtyard, or the scramble to pluck at raspberries - and here the music is highly ingenious. But it is almost always metronomic, dull, drilling upon its theme with the persistence of a dentist at a tooth. There is no blood or bone to it, no strength to uphold the nun's veiling the concept.

Miss Geraldine Farrar deserves all credit for what good impression the short tragedy made. Her acting of the nun who has endured seven years of vindictive loneliness, who learns of her child's death, who brews and drinks a fatal cup, and prays for a miracle to prove the Madonna's forgiveness - her acting of all this lugubrious fustian was magnificently noble. Her voice was by no means at its best, but she carried the role and the audience equally far. The miracle proved a tame affair. To a Metropolitan clientele on familiar terms with miracles (it had seen the glorious one conceived for "Saint Elizabeth" last year) this one had the hint of much modesty.

Of "Gianni Schicchi," the third of the unrelated trilogy, much has been told already but it cannot be too much. Admitting that it is almost opera bouffe, it is likewise one of the most delightful bits ever put upon the Metropolitan stage. It is a broad farce, of course, but in such medieval colors as might have brought it from the pages of Boccaccio or Margaret of Navarre. It doesn't seem fair to lay the plot of it against poor Dante, who only consigned the merry Schicchi to the bowels of the earth. There is travesty in both book and music, glow in both of them, and a little sentiment, much wisdom and such laughter as few opera can stir.

The necessarily short ensembles shouted by greedy relatives over the deathbed of a rich patriarch are memorable for their masterliness. But the pearl of all the evening is, perhaps, a little half-serious prayer which the young daughter of Schicchi sings to him on bended knee, to plead the cause of her lover and his miserly crew of elders. Here, for once, comes pure melody; melody, indeed, so plaintive and tender as to verge upon the street ballad - yet it is arch and exquisite, and Miss Easton reaped a triumph and replanted an encore with it. Her performance was without quibble or question the supremely happy one of this series of premieres. Her beauty of voice and appearance, her comportment throughout, won her the eyes and ears of the audience at her every entrance. All the singers of "Gianni Schicchi" in fact kept up the good work. Mr. De Luca carried off his shrewd and energetic title role with delight, and Kathleen Howard was never a more humorous old woman.


From the review of Henry E. Krehbiel in the Tribune

Varied in style and calling for a large number of performers, they served admirably to disclose the versatility of Mr. Gatti's forces. Signor Montesanto appeared to much better advantage in "Il Tabarro" than hitherto, and the same is true of Signor Crimi. All of their associates, however, had better opportunities than they to disclose their capabilities as character actors, the quality of which this opera and "Gianni Schicchi' called for in large measure, while "Suor Angelica" did not demand it at all.

So Miss Gentle distinguished herself in what may be called the burn boat woman scene, as did Messers Bada and Didur, though the latter was at his best, which is something more than merely excellent, in the farce when he achieved the feat of appearing both comical and dignified at the same time, even in the midst of the horseplay which fills so much of it.

Miss Muzio advanced herself mightily in the good opinion of the audience by singing impassionedly without always being strenuous. There were some young and fresh voices, notably those of Miss Ellis and Miss Arden, in "Suor Angelica." Though dramatically all of the characters with the exception of the titular one, played by Miss Farrar, and the Princes, played by Miss Perini, were cut after the same pattern. The intensity of the emotional nature of the penitent nun, who was called on to show a fatal botanical knowledge like that of her operatic sisters, Selika and Lakme, might have been displayed in something besides stressful vocal utterance, perhaps; but the task is not an easy one, and Miss Farrar will have difficulty in hanging the portrait of Sister Angelica on the line with some of her other impersonations.

In "Gianni Schicchi" there was small opportunity for song, and nearly all of it fell to Miss Easton and Mr. Crimi, who acquitted themselves well. Signor de Luca, in the title part, was excellently seconded by Miss Howard and as has been indicated by Mr. Didur.

The three operas were well mounted, the second presenting a particularly handsome picture. The house was crowded. "Il Tabarro" was received with genuine enthusiasm, and "Gianni Schicchi" with uproarious delight, signs of appreciation not waiting till the closing of the curtain. "Suor Angelica" has a beautifully effective instrumental intermezzo, which marks high water musically, and this would have been applauded had it not occurred at a dramatic moment when it would have been offensive. Miss Farrar and the tableau of the miracle having the stage to themselves at the end, there was enough genuine applause to show respect and a lot of manufactured approval afterward.

Apropos of the applause bestowed upon the performers a significant incident is to be noted. The claque, which was unusually numerous and particularly pestiferous, had not a hand for the most exquisite bit of melody and singing of the evening - the mock-serious appeal to Gianni made by Miss Easton as Lauretta. But the genuine portion of the audience appreciated the song and the singer, and kept up the applause until a repetition of the little air was grudgingly granted. The significance of the demonstration was explained by the fact that the song occurs when Puccini's music, strongly suggestive here of lessons learned from "Meistersinger" and "Rosenkavalier," is not only at its best, but is of remarkably fine quality.


Production photos from Il Trittico by White Studio.



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