[Met Performance] CID:77410
Andrea Chénier {2} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/7/1921.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 7, 1921


ANDREA CHÉNIER {2}

Andrea Chénier..........Beniamino Gigli
Maddalena...............Claudia Muzio
Carlo Gérard............Giuseppe Danise
Bersi...................Ellen Dalossy
Countess di Coigny......Kathleen Howard
Abbé....................Giordano Paltrinieri
Fléville................Mario Laurenti
L'Incredibile...........Angelo Badà
Roucher.................Millo Picco
Mathieu.................Adamo Didur
Madelon.................Flora Perini
Dumas...................Louis D'Angelo
Fouquier Tinville.......Paolo Ananian
Schmidt.................Pompilio Malatesta
Major-domo..............Vincenzo Reschiglian

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

Review of Max Smith in the New York American
Save for the indisposition of Beniamino Gigli, who had succumbed to a sudden attack of hoarseness, "Andrea Chenier" would have found its way into the Metropolitan Opera House a week ago Saturday. As it was, it did not reach the proud theatre on Broadway until last night, when a large and brilliant audience heard the work sung under Maestro Moranzoni's direction by the following cast: [see above]

Excellent was the mise-en-scene, made by Triangle Studio and by James Fox; excellent the costuming, prepared by Mme. Castel-Bert; excellent the stage management of Samuel Thewman; excellent too, the singing of Giulio Setti's choristers, as also the playing of the orchestra under Moranzoni's spirited direction. And every member of the cast-not only the principals, who evoked such tumultuous demonstrations of enthusiasm, but also those to whom the small parts had been allotted-added something that had distinct artistic value to the impressions of the evening.

Thus presented, an opera which many of us, perhaps, had been inclined to underrate, took on new life. It is not a great composition, to be sure, and will hardly outlast the period which brought Puccini and those of his ilk to the fore. But there is a constant flow of melody, not always distinguished, to be sure, but invariably pleasing, generally spontaneous, and often vitalized by genuine passion. There is enough variety and contrast in the alternating episodes, sentimental, vigorous, vivacious, to keep the interest alive. And the singers are not asked to walk through their parts declaiming unintelligible words of wisdom to the accompaniment of profoundly significant, but excruciating instrumental cacophonies. They are actually permitted to indulge, singly and together, in expansive cantilena. And Giordano has accomplished this without halting unduly the movement of the drama.

'Andrea Chenier," therefore, has all the elements of legitimate popularity and will unquestionably prove to be a valuable addition to Giulio Gatti-Casazza's repertory in spite of the fact that the title role originally set apart for Caruso has been allotted to Signor Gigli. It is a somewhat heavy part for the youthful lyric tenor, and it is to be hoped that he will not throw discretion to the winds and overtax his fine voice. There were times last night when Gigli seemed to be inclined to force the noble resonance of his middle register beyond its natural limitations. But his singing generally was distinguished not only by sustained beauty of timbre and impeccable diction, but by admirably moulded phrasing and impassioned eloquence of expression. No wonder there was such an explosion of enthusiasm after Chenier's improvisation in the first act, "Un di all'azzuro spazio!"

Hardly less impressive, vocally and histrionically, was Claudio Muzio's tensely tragic portrayal of Madeleine. Convincing in the great love scene of the second act with Gigli, she sang Maddalena's "Racconto" in the third act, "La mamma morta," with dramatic intensity and fervor, and achieved no less notable results in the finale of the fourth act, though the somewhat labored, if superficially, effective concluding scene comes as an anti-climax.

Excellent artist that he is, Giuseppe Danise not only sang but acted the part of Gerard in a manner worthy of admiration, winning the recognition he deserved in the monologue, "Nemico della patria" and in the following scene with Maddalena.

In Mathieu, the versatile Didur added another finely elaborated character study to his list. Praises unreserved, too, is due to Flora Perini for her peculiarly appealing impersonation of the old woman, Madelon, and to Angelo Bada for the skill he brought to the role of the Spy.

As for Maestro Moranzoni, who at all times had his forces in complete control, he has rarely, if ever, given a better account of himself that he did last night. He conducted not only authoritatively, but with fire.


Review of the New York Herald
'Andrea Chenier," opera in four acts, book by Luigi Illica, music by Umberto Giordano, was performed at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening. It was to have been produced on Saturday afternoon, February 26, but was postponed because Mr. Gigli was ill. It had never been heard before in the Metropolitan, but none the less cannot have the honor of a record as a novelty. It was first heard here at the Academy of Music, November 13, 1896 when Col. Mapleson presented it. After that it remained in seclusion till the Campaninis had a birthday celebration on March 27, 1908 at the Manhattan Opera House under the consulship of the only Oscar Hammerstein. Cleofonte Campanini, who owned the birthday, conducted, and his wife, Mme. Eva Tetrazzini, carried the burden of the heroine's agonies.

The composer has been represented here by other operas, "Siberia" and "Fedora," the latter associated with the Hogarthian curves of Miss Cavalieri. "Andrea Chenier" is a better work than either, and its production yesterday might have caused some wonder at its long neglect. It is not a great opera, but this is a barren period, a day of mustard seed and salt, and in midst of such little things "Andrea Chenier" seems to stand upright and carry a proud crown of foliage…

The production at the Metropolitan should command the attention of the moment. It is excellent. The best traditions of the direction of Mr. Gatti-Casazza are sustained. There is a general level of merit which embraces the contributions of principals, chorus, orchestra and conductor. Their performance contains sharply drawn individual excellences, but in the end the impression is one of an admirable and homogeneous ensemble.

Naturally the fiercest lights beat about the heads of Miss Claudia Muzio as Madeleine and Beniamino Gigli as the poet. Both are fortunate in their new duties. Miss Muzio's art is one of narrow limitations and too often she is compelled to attempt things unfavorable to her methods. But in "Andrea Chenier" she has a thoroughly congenial role. The music is precisely the kind she can sing best, while the character is easily delineated by the conventional artifices of the opera actor's routine. Miss Muzio was pleasing to the eye as well as to the ear and her impersonation undoubtedly enlisted the sympathies of the audience.

Mr. Gigli continued to justify the prediction made here after his debut that he would always be heard with pleasure. He is one of the best singers who have come to the Metropolitan in recent years. His beautiful voice is used with art, taste, and moderation. He does not belong to the inglorious company of shouters. This is probably due to the fact that he knows how to sing mezza voce, His art is essentially lyric and possesses an individual charm. He sang the music of Chenier admirably, and while his acting added nothing to the vague outline furnished by the drama, it took nothing from it. The audience received his offering with acclamations.

Giuseppe Danise met fully the requirements of the important role of Gerard, the rival of Chenier for the love of Madeleine. He sang like an artist and acted like a man. There were several others who presented well made sketches to the audience. Mme. Howard, as the noble lady, who gave the "party" in the first act, was characteristic. Millo Picco comported himself with an air of sincerity as the friend of Chenier. Mr. Didur drew a highly colored portrait of a particularly objectionable sanculcotte and Paolo Ananian made himself thoroughly disagreeable as Fouquier Tinville.

Miss Ellen Dalossy as Bersi flashed captivating expanses of well supplied hosiery, and Angelo Bada as a regular detective right out of the pages of Gaboriau disguised himself to the pink of elegant perfection as an irresistible "incroyable" and detected Andrea and Madeleine all over the stage.

The scenery of the opera is naturally not of the spectacular type, but the square before the cafe has the atmosphere of old Paris and the prison scenes are well planned. The chorus as usual, sang well and the orchestra played as it almost invariably does, with merit. The musical coherence of the performance must be credited to Maestro Moranzoni who has put to his record a laudable achievement.



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