[Met Performance] CID:80750
United States Premiere
Così Fan Tutte {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/24/1922.
 (United States Premiere)

Metropolitan Opera House
March 24, 1922
United States Premiere

Mozart-Da Ponte

Fiordiligi..............Florence Easton
Ferrando................George Meader
Dorabella...............Frances Peralta
Guglielmo...............Giuseppe De Luca
Despina.................Lucrezia Bori
Don Alfonso.............Adamo Didur

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Gretel Urban

Così Fan Tutte received four performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America:

Singers Respond to Challenge

The performance was an altogether mettlesome one. The singers seemed to feel the challenge of Mozart's music, commonly regarded as too difficult for latter-day vocal technique. If there was not quite all the velvet of tone expected of the perfect Mozart singer, there was much that was surprising and gratifying in the poise and style with which the trickiest passages were encompassed by singers whose forte has seemed to be for music of a more dramatic and less elegant character. Above all, there was evidence of long and earnest rehearsal.

To Florence Easton fell the two-octave part of Fiordiligi, which Mozart wrote for Ferraresi del Bene, a soprano who is said to have had low tones like a bass, in addition to an unusual high voice. Nothing high or low seemed to trouble Mme. Easton, and she achieved the most taxing florid passages immaculately. Her most important air, that in which she defies the intruding admirers, written with del Bene's low tones in view, was a triumph of sheer good singing. Her acting, stressing a hauteur that crumbled before impassioned pleading, was quite as fascinating as her song.

Frances Peralta's personation of Dorabella was one of much charm. She sang her two solos with grace and attractive tone, and in her duets with Mme. Easton, took the lower part with always musical results.

Despina is almost a low-comedy character, and Lucrezia Bori gave her talents wide latitude in making the serving maid as pert and impertinent as possible, with no little swaggering and parading to and fro. Most of the out-and-out laughs were the result of her antics. The maid might well have been mistress in this house. She sang her solos and her part in concerted numbers delightfully, though the music would have been better for her if it had been generally a little higher in her scale.

George Meader and Giuseppe de Luca were altogether admirable as the lovers. The former, in the most important part he has had since joining the Metropolitan, sang smoothly and tastefully, and was intelligent and effective in his acting. Ever a potent farceur Mr. de Luca contributed unction and suavity to the fun, and sang like the fine Mozart singer he is. Adamo Didur surpassed himself vocally as Don Alfonso, and his characterization of the cynic, the motivating personality of the opera, was one of the most satisfying of the many good ones he has put to his credit at the Metropolitan. Mr. Bodanzky's conducting of the score, which he had cut in many places, was of a high order. The program stated that a clavicembalo, played by Paul Eisler, was used to accompany the recitatives. It sounded much like the modified piano made familiar in some recent symphony concerts.

Urban's Rococo Settings

Further mention must be made of Joseph Urban's scenery. For the seven scenes there are five different settings, one, the garden, being used three times in the course of the two acts of the opera. The first, an inn by the sea, has a suggestion of a building on either side, a wall and the hyalescent blue at the back that is Urban's own. The garden which follows is brilliant with golden floral streamers and gives a glimpse of water, woods and town beyond. The other three scenes are paneled and tapestried interiors - elegant miniatures of rooms of the period, quaint in design and lovely in color. The stage management on Friday was altogether commendable. Scene followed scene with the utmost precision, and this played no small part in the liveliness of the performance.

"Cosi Fan Tutte" is the first Mozart opera of a lustrum at the Metropolitan. Through the years of absence of his works from the répertoire, Mozart's name has been discernible on one of the plaques over the proscenium. Friday, an illuminated portrait of the Salzburg genius covered the front of the prompter's box. It is devoutly hoped that this is an ostent that Mozart's music will be current henceforth with that of Wagner, Verdi and Gounod, others whose names similarly adorn the proscenium.

Review of Richard Aldrich in The New York Times

The last of the promises for the present operatic season made by the management was fulfilled last evening when Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" was performed. It was something of a historic occasion; for it was, so far as can be ascertained now, the first production in this country. And while "Cosi fan Tutte" cannot be ranked with the greatest masterpieces of the composer, it is a work of enough importance for its first American performance, 132 years after it was first heard in Vienna, to be set down as a notable event. The large audience that heard the performance was evidently amused, interested, beguiled by the thrice admirable performance. There was much applause, much calling of the principals before the curtain.

The performance was delightful, refreshing. "Cosi fan Tutte" is an opera of such proportions that under ordinary conditions it would be swamped or submerged in the great spaces of the Metropolitan stage and auditorium. The management attempted with much ingenuity to apply a remedy for this. Upon the stage another, smaller stage was erected, a considerable distance back from the footlights. This was curtained off from the rest of the stage, though access was given to it by a short flight of steps at each end. All this was made to have an air of the period to which the opera belongs. The curtains that divide off the little stage were of rococo decorative design; the little stage was rimmed by old-fashioned footlights in glass chimneys purporting to burn candles or oil lamps; and four liveried footmen came out and lighted them before the performance, as well as two big chandeliers before the stage. It could hardly be said that a feeling of intimacy was created by the device of the little stage. But a feeling of appropriateness at least was created.

So nothing in a material way was left undone to give a setting suitable for the opera. And it may be said that the opera itself enchanted the ear and the musical sensibilities of the listeners. In fact, it seemed wholly delightful; the music characteristic of Mozart--it was written at his ripest period, just after "Figaro" and just before "The Magic Flute"---and, in fact, showing some delicate traits especially suitable to this opera. It is not expected that a public used to the more sweeping and varied effects of modern music drama will at once discern all the beauty of this fragile "opera buffa." But there is much enjoyment to be derived from the admirable performance at the Metropolitan.

The singers were mostly well equipped for a difficult task. At their head stood Mme. Florence Easton as Fiordiligi, who sang with authority, with a true perception of Mozart's style, and many qualifications to present it brilliantly, artistically, with power and expression. Also a readiness to enter into the comic and the burlesque spirit of the piece. Miss Peralta was praiseworthy in her impersonation of Dorabella. Miss Bori was rightly cast as Despina, a part which in general has the character of a soubrette. She was very pretty, saucy, arch and mischievous in her representation, and she sang the music charmingly. But last evening, it must be said, she overacted the part noticeably. Some kind friend should speak a warning word about this.

Mr. DeLuca was delightful as Guglielmo, delightful in his beautiful singing of the music as in the unctuous humor of his action. Mr. Meader sang well also, with much intelligence and appreciation, and acted likewise. Much praise is due to the wholly characteristic impersonation of Don Alfonso by Mr. Didur, richly humorous and cynical. He has little singing to do; his part is mostly recitative. With this he coped with a large measure of success. Mr. Bodanzky's conducting brought to pass a performance finished, spirited, brilliant, one that may be said to have given a true account of Mozart's work.

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