[Met Performance] CID:71600
La Forza del Destino {8} Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/25/1919.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
March 25, 1919

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Leonora.................Rosa Ponselle
Don Alvaro..............Enrico Caruso
Don Carlo...............Giuseppe De Luca
Padre Guardiano.........José Mardones
Preziosilla.............Raymonde Delaunois
Fra Melitone............Thomas Chalmers
Marquis de Calatrava....Louis D'Angelo
Curra...................Marie Mattfeld
Mayor...................Paolo Ananian
Trabuco.................Giordano Paltrinieri
Surgeon.................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Dance...................not performed

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Review of Linton P. Martin in the Philadelphia American:

Old Opera is Presented Here in a Brilliant Performance


Dear old Papa Verdi was discovered all over again at the Metropolitan last night. And it was a brilliant discovery.

We thought we knew everything possible about the master melodist who gave "Traviata," "Trovatore," "Rigoletto," 'Aida," "Otello" and other works to older generations of opera lovers, but it seems we were mistaken. For present day Philadelphians had their first hearing last night of his "Forza del Destino." It was first sung in Europe a mere trifle like fifty-seven years ago, and save for a single presentation in 1886, and a few records has remained unknown here. But in melodic inspiration and general interest it is far, far fresher than the overwhelming majority of opera scores by contemporary composers.

Last night's performance was notable not only as a virtual premiere, but because it brought back Caruso in one of his most congenial roles and really served to introduce Rosa Ponselle to Philadelphia. This young soprano was heard here last December as Santuzza in "Cavalleria Rusticana." On that occasion the resent writer was obliged to say many unkind things about her singing and characterization. But last night she was so different, both vocally and histrionically, that it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the performance was practically her real introduction to Philadelphia.

Not since Emmy Destinn has Philadelphia heard such vocal opulence, such glorious color of tone, as poured with limitless ease from the fresh young throat of Miss Ponselle throughout the entire evening. Caruso sang faultlessly, with all his wonted skill and golden wealth of overtones, but it would be unfair and ridiculous to deny that the evening was overwhelmingly a personal triumph for Miss Ponselle. To listen to her voice is to be charmed inexpressibly, to be captivated irresistibly by the sheer sensuous glamour of her lovely singing. And it is a pleasure to record that last night she sang every measure with crystal purity of pitch and a degree of art which showed how rapidly she is maturing as an operatic prima donna of the first order.

"Forza del Destino" is so crowded with splendid arias, duets and concerted numbers that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to particularize about the performance within the limits of a review. Verdi knew how to write music for the voice in a manner that is practically a lost art today and every member of the notable cast brought forward by the Metropolitan sang as though he or she were personally grateful for the opportunities offered.

Caruso has not nearly so many opportunities as the soprano. But he certainly made the most of those he did have, and his comparatively few numbers were rapturously received. In fact, the applause was liberal and markedly spontaneous throughout. It was one of the rare performances which communicate some magic, electrical thrill to everybody in the house when principals, chorus, orchestra and conductor work together with zest and inspiration. In the second act last night the action was halted while Miss Ponselle and sonorous-voiced Jose Mardones came out six or seven times in response to the prolonged applause of a wildly enthusiastic house.

That incident was characteristic. The audience showed in no uncertain manner its regret that Caruso's numbers were not more frequent, After the third act "Oh, tu che in seno agli' angeli," the duet "Solene in quest' ora," and the fourth act duet, "Le minaccie, I fieri accerti," the applause was of the sort heard only when a great crowd of people are lifted out of their ordinary emotions of pleasure. And the climax came when Miss Ponselle sang her aria, "Pace, pace" with moving power in the final act.

Far more than perfunctory praise is merited by the other members of the cast. The sterling sincerity and organ-toned voice of Mardones has already been noted. His work in the ecclesiastical second act was memorable indeed. And it had the value of contrast with the capital comic portrait contributed by Thomas Chalmers as Fra Melitone, Chalmers showed how effectively a small bit may be made to stand out.

Giuseppe de Luca's high baritone was heard as the vengeful brother, Don Carlos, and others who did splendid work were Raymonde Dalaunois, Louis D'Angelo and Giordano Patrinieri. Gennaro Papi at the conductor's stand did much to reveal the felicities of orchestral and vocal score.

The handling of the chorus by Giulio Setti was superb in its precision and the ballet interludes were spirited and rich in atmosphere. The scenic equipment was elaborate and artistic - especially grateful to the eye after the visual monstrosities of "La Reine Fiamette."

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