[Met Performance] CID:82050
Mefistofele {38} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/18/1922.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 18, 1922 Matinee


MEFISTOFELE {38}
Boito-Boito

Mefistofele.............Fyodor Chaliapin
Faust...................Beniamino Gigli
Margherita..............Frances Alda
Elena...................Frances Peralta
Wagner..................Angelo Badą
Marta...................Kathleen Howard
Pantalis................Flora Perini
Nerčo...................Giordano Paltrinieri

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

Director................Samuel Thewman
Designer................Boris Anisfeld
Choreographer...........Rosina Galli

Mefistofele received six performances this season.


Review of Max Smith in the American

RUSSIAN WILDLY APPLAUDED AS MEPHISTOPHELES, THE PART IN WHICH HE MADE HIS DEBUT AT THE METROPOLITAN 16 YEARS AGO

Away back in the Conried regime Feodor Chaliapin made his American debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in the title role of "Mefistofele." He was "roasted." Yesterday in the same theatre, he once more impersonated the demon of Boito's music-drama, which had its first performance of the season. And this time he won an unqualified triumph. He was not the only hero of the afternoon. For a time indeed, it looked as if Monsieur Chemenceau, for whose coming the audience had been properly prepared by William Guard, would run him a close race.

All doubt regarding the temper of the huge matinee gathering was swept away, however, when the curtain fell on the great Brocken scene. The famous French statesman had been accorded a reception sufficiently enthusiastic but perfectly decorous. The idealized artist following the "Night of the Sabbath," was greeted with a demonstration vehement in the entrance and boisterous. Nor did the tumult of hand-clapping, stamping and shouting cease until he had answered fully a dozen recalls.

Chaliapin deserved no less honor than was accorded to him. Sixteen years ago, despite critical remonstrance, his portrayal of Mephistopheles was an achievement unequalled. Today it is even more impressive, and impersonation marvelously suggestive in its elaborate histrionic detail, superbly effective considered as a whole - a creation of genius.

From first to last - in the Bacchanalian reverie of the Brocken scene, too, when the stage was alive with scurrying and leaping figures - he focused the attention upon himself, so compelling, so vital, so picturesquely significant were his movements, his gestures, his facial expression. It was not only in his acting, however, that Chaliapin yesterday compelled admiration. His voice in the soliloquy of the Prologue, in the "Son le Spirito" of the Laboratory scene, in the "Ballad of the World," had great power and sonority as well as emotional warmth. The Italian language perhaps, was partly responsible. Mr. Chaliapin had never disclosed his qualifications as a singer to such advantage.

Beniamino Gigli, heard for the first time this season, also was at his best as Faust, the very role in which he made his debut in New York. How exquisitely mellow and supple was his voice in the "Dai campi, dai prati"! How delicately and how expressively he treated every melodic phrase, and with what a mastery of diction and tone-production! The performance, so temperamentally conducted by Maestro Moranzoni, showed improvement in almost every department. Presumably Chaliapin had taken a hand at rehearsals.

Mme. Alda put far more dramatic intensity into her Margherita than of yore. She took a curtain call alone after the prison scene. Gigli had more vigor and zest. All the others in the cast - Frances Peralta as Elena, Flora Perini as Pantalis, Kathleen Howard as Marta, Bada as Wagner, Paltrinieri as Nereo - contributed the utmost. And needless to say, the great choral episodes were sung inspiringly by Giulio Setti's trained pupils.



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