[Met Performance] CID:79000
New production
La Traviata {110} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/14/1921.

(Opening Night {37}
Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager

Debut: Amelita Galli-Curci
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 14, 1921
Opening Night {37}
New production

Giulio Gatti-Casazza, General Manager


LA TRAVIATA {110}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Violetta................Amelita Galli-Curci [Debut]
Alfredo.................Beniamino Gigli
Germont.................Giuseppe De Luca
Flora...................Minnie Egener
Gastone.................Angelo Badà
Baron Douphol...........Millo Picco
Marquis D'Obigny........Mario Laurenti
Dr. Grenvil.............Paolo Ananian
Annina..................Louise Bérat

Act II, Scene II Divertissement
Rosina Galli, Florence Rudolph, Giuseppe Bonfiglio, Corps de Ballet

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

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert
Choreographer...........Rosina Galli

La Traviata received five performances this season.


Review of Max Smith in The New York American

The opera season was launched last night in the Metropolitan with Amelita Galli-Curci on the bridge and Benjamino [sic] Gigli at her side. For the management had selected "La Traviata" as the initial offering, though the work has none of the spectacular glories usually associated with the opening night. And surely no tenor more welcome could have been chosen as the partner of the dainty little diva than Signor Gigli, who won so decided a success last year.

It was the first time in his experience here that Giulio Gatti-Casazza had been compelled on such an occasion to focus public attention on a singer other than the one whose memory will never be effaced. Nor could the men and women who forgathered in the foyer during the intermissions refrain from dwelling in retrospect on thoughts of that incomparable artist. In spite of these sad reflections, inevitable, of course, the evening passed much as it had in the past without the slightest falling off in attendance--for the big theatre literally was packed-and without any apparent shadows to darken the festive spirit of the multitude.

The usual amenities were exchanged between acts, when the operatic fans of both sexes and all ages met as they perennially do, to bid each other glad greetings after a prolonged period of absence from thrice familiar haunts. As usual, too, many of those who preferred to stay in their seats instead of circulating in pairs and groups through the crowded corridors turned inquisitive eyes upward or downward as the case might be, on the lower tier of the golden horseshoe where sat on exhibition the "crème de la crème" of society, outrivalling for once in splendor the display on the other side of the footlights.

Yes, Signor Gatti had forgone the customary pomp and circumstance of the season's beginning, and all out of deference to the little woman, who on this occasion, made her first appearance as a member of the flock. For "Traviata," as all of us know, affords no opportunity for big ensembles, for massed effects, for the combined assault of cumulative sonority and gorgeous pageantry upon eye and ear. Still, who regretted the absence of melodramatic splurge? Was there not more than enough to compensate for this loss-if loss it was-in the exquisite singing of La Galli-Curci and her principal companions, the mellow-voiced Gigli and that incomparable artist, Giuseppe de Luca?

Verdi's setting of "La Dame aux Camelias" is sufficiently hackneyed, to be sure. Only a Toscanini, perhaps, could gloss over the barrel-organ reiterations that obtrude here and there in the orchestral fabric. But last night's performance was a "revival," so called, inasmuch as the work had not been included in the Metropolitan repertoire for three years; an entirely rebuilt and reprepared production, with a new and effective mise-en-scene unmistakably by Joseph Urban. Moreover, it had been carefully and conscientiously studied and rehearsed under the direction of Roberto Moranzoni, who fulfilled his functions at the baton "con amore."

And how fascinating is Amelita's impersonation of Violetta, already made familiar during her association with the visiting Chicago Opera Company! How imaginatively vivacious in the first act; how pathetic in the second; how tragic in the last. It was fitting, indeed, that Giulio Gatti-Casazza should bring forward his latest "star" in "Traviata." For surely no other role reveals her own peculiar powers, histrionic as well as vocal, to greater advantage; none permits her to disclose more affectingly the characteristic delicacy of her art, the essentially feminine charm of her persuasions.

Throughout the evening, to tell the truth, it was not the singing of Mme. Galli-Curci alone that held her audience enthralled, though her coloratura achievements in the "Ah, fors e lui" and "Sempre Libera" brought forth, of course, the expected storm of applause. Hardly less potent the influence of her gentle portrayal, so human in its appeal, so artfully yet so naturally elaborated in its histrionic detail, in gesture, in play of mien and features. She was nervous at the outset, obviously so, and this brought the natural consequence, a shortage of breath. Carefully at times, almost gingerly, she spun out filaments of resonant silver. Now and again, too, despite evident efforts to avoid her most conspicuous shortcoming, her tones would sag, especially when she rose, to loftier altitudes.

Yet somehow Mme. Galli-Curci's artistic charms eclipse even her faults of intonation. Or are our ears, injured to modern cacophonies, gradually becoming accustomed to the fractional tones, with which the music of a distant future perhaps will deal? A captivating figure in the crinolined costumes of the period, she held the audience in the hollow of her pretty hand, and before the fall of the final curtain upon the death scene, so movingly enacted by her, had won a complete triumph.

Admirable, too, was the Alfredo of Signor Gigli, the one important contribution of the evening that had the element of absolute novelty, happily, this young tenor is in excellent condition for the demands that will be put upon him during the months to come showing no traces of the continued indisposition that limited his activities towards the close of last season, and subsequently interfered seriously with his engagement in South America. He sang beautifully in fact, making his tones vital even in delicately spun mezza-voce with the articulate distinctness of his diction and the emotional significance he infused into every phrase. A more satisfying Alfredo surely has not been heard here in years.

Not a bit less impressive, however, was the third member in the triple constellation of the evening, Giuseppe de Luca. To him, tried and true, as the elder Germont went the tributes of the genuine and prolonged applause after the "Di Provenza" aria-one of two very finest achievements of the evening.

A performance on the whole measuring up to the best standards maintained in recent years. And to the general results the other members of the cast-Minnie Egener as Flora, Louise Berat as Annina, Bada as Gastone, Picco as Douphol, Laurenti ad D'Obigny, and Ananian, as Dr. Grenville-gave each of their best, as did Giulio Setti's chorus.


Photograph of Amelita Galli-Curci as Violetta by Victor Georg.



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