[Met Performance] CID:70870
United States Premiere
La Reine Fiammette {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/24/1919.
 (United States Premiere)
(Debut: Boris Anisfeld
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 24, 1919
United States Premiere


LA REINE FIAMMETTE {1}
X. Leroux-Mendès

Orlanda.................Geraldine Farrar
Danilo..................Hipolito Lazaro
Giorgio.................Adamo Didur
César...................Léon Rothier
Lucagnolo...............Mario Laurenti
Pantasilée..............Flora Perini
Viola...................Mary Ellis
Violette................Lenora Sparkes
Violine.................Kitty Beale
Youth...................Mary Mellish
Youth...................Cecil Arden
Pomone..................Marie Tiffany
Michela.................Lenora Sparkes
Cesano..................Giordano Paltrinieri
Vasari..................Pietro Audisio
Cortez..................Albert Reiss
Castiglione.............Angelo Badà
Agramente...............Kathleen Howard
Angioletta..............Mary Ellis
Chiarina................Marie Mattfeld
Prosecutor..............Paolo Ananian
Novice..................Veni Warwick
Novice..................Phyllis White

Conductor...............Pierre Monteux
Director................Richard Ordynski
Designer................Boris Anisfeld [Debut]

La Reine Fiammette received five performances this season.

Unsigned Review in the Brooklyn Eagle

Leroux's 'La Riene Fiammette' Triumph for Geraldine Farrar

"La Riene Fiammette," opera in French by Xavier Leroux, received last evening at the Metropolitan Opera House its first performance in America. The occasion provided a triumph for Gerladine Farrar in a role created by Mary Garden at the Opera Comique in Paris in 1903. The prima donna's admirers cut loose after every act. They threw flowers upon the stage and evinced all the other manifestations of delight characteristic of a prima donna's following. The singer seemed overjoyed and in that joyance even kissed the tenor before the curtain. That the audience might realize that other factors than the singers were concerned in the production, Richard Ordynski, stage manager; Boris Anisfeld, responsible for the scenery and costumes, and Pierre Monteux, conductor, were also presented to view.

The opera, which represents another addition to the French repertoire, is based upon Catulle Mendes' play of the same name given here a matter of twenty years ago with Julia Marlowe. Ostensibly its action and characters are those of Bologna of the Sixteenth Century; in reality they are of that country of decadence and bloodless inhabitants fashioned from the dreams of a particular coterie of French writers of the closing years of the past century. Giorgio d'Ast, relative and consort of Orlanda, agrees to Cardinal Cesar Sforza's proposal for the lady's death. The instrument to work this bidding of State and Church is Danielo, who though a monk, is in the habit of visiting regularly a lady of high degree. Of course, the lady of his love in none other than Orlanda in disguise. Realization of the identity paralyses the arm that would strike her down. Danielo is condemned to death and his reprieve secured by the abdication of the queen. But the Cardinal stepping into the breech orders Orlando's death, then Danielo's, and the twain pass to the headsman's block with the curtain of the final act.

The play's the thing. Like so many other works for the French operatic stage the music plays little part in the drama. Nor does this particular music signify. It runs on, hit or miss, fast and slow, loud or soft, bearing upon its shallow waters a dramatic tone speech that would gain in effectiveness if spoken instead of sung. A pupil of Massenet and Dubois, Leroux has assimilated some of the qualities of both. The score sounds for the most part like diluted Massenet, but Leroux might have done well to assimilate much more of that composer's ability to write effective melody.

The moments of the opera that please the most are those of episodic nature. There is some pretty. light music to accompany the dancing and play of young girls, of the revelers of the first act, and of the beginning trio for the innkeeper and his two youths. But for the most part it is music that would stabilize rather than vivify the action on stage. Nor is it music of characterization.

On this opera of little moment the Metropolitan Opera House has lavished all its vast resources. Boris Anisfeld, latest of the Russian painters to exhibit in this country, designed the scenery and costumes. They are the imaginative, gorgeously colorful pictures of an artist who can rise above the limitations of realism and allow his fancy to draw upon the emotional content of drama and music. Everyone of the stage pictures is of beauty in itself, of design that springs as much from the color scheme as from the necessities of place. And into this background of mingled Italian primitivism and fantastic impressionism the colors and designs of the costumes fit with justice. That is, with the exception of those of Farrar; for prima donna-like she ha to use her own ideas in the matter of costuming. They are beautiful and lavish in themselves, but they have little reference to the scheme of the whole.

Farrar's characterization of the unfortunate queen is vital and gripping conceived with intensity of feeling and outlined with the sure strokes of genius. She was a beautiful figure with her red wig and long, flowing draperies, while her face was the true mirror of the emotions of the play. Her singing was of the declamatory style adopted by Mary Garden in her delineation of like characters. It ranged from pianissimo to mezzo forte; was never full-throated, never of emotional tonal value.

Lazaro was miscast. Nature never intended him for romantic roles. He has neither the figure nor
the voice. Danielo need a Muratore, or at least a singer of Martinelli's type. They might make much of it. But Lazaro is a tenor, and not an actor. When a tenor has nothing to sing but much to declaim, he is lost.

Didur made a compelling person of Giorgio d'Ast, though the role is well-nigh a lay figure. Rothier carried Mephistophelian qualities under his Cardinal's robes. His diction was the most understandable. For that matter he was the only one of the cast whose French could always he understood.

Mr. Monteux gave a discreet and illuminated reading of the unilluminating score. As is ever the case, the chorus and the lesser singers performed their duties adequately. A special word of praise is due Miss Mary Ellis for making the most of her two small opportunities.



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