[Met Performance] CID:82140
New production
Roméo et Juliette {111} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/25/1922.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 25, 1922 Matinee
New production


ROMÉO ET JULIETTE {111}
Gounod-Barbier/Carré

Roméo...................Beniamino Gigli
Juliette................Lucrezia Bori
Frère Laurent...........Léon Rothier
Stéphano................Raymonde Delaunois
Mercutio................Giuseppe De Luca
Benvolio................Giordano Paltrinieri
Gertrude................Henriette Wakefield
Capulet.................Adamo Didur
Tybalt..................Angelo Badà
Pâris...................Millo Picco
Grégorio................Paolo Ananian
Duke of Verona..........Louis D'Angelo

Conductor...............Louis Hasselmans

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

Roméo et Juliette received thirteen performances this season.


Unsigned review in the Musical Courier

Gounod's Romeo and Juliet is the fruit of the great time of French opera before the war of 1870 and the downfall of the monarchy had placed democracy in the ascendancy and forced into the background-gradually enough, indeed -the pomp and circumstance of the aristocracy, the festivity of the great, unmixed, upper classes, unrestrained by any fear that they would have forced into their midst any member of the "not received." Therein lies the whole difference between a spectacular opera premiere and revival of those days and the same premiere or revival today. We are wont to dream of the great old days of opera. But, materially speaking, these days are as great as any the world has ever seen-it is only the spirit that differs.

Certainly the revival of Gounod's popular opera at the Metropolitan on November 25 left nothing to be desired by way of production. The scenery was fine, luxurious, sumptuous, far more so than anything ever heard of in 1867 when the work was first presented to the public. The stage management was excellent, the chorus well trained (and well restrained, it may he added, which is not always the case in France) and the singers excellent. There was a big audience, many standees, many Italians, many French, a few Americans.

The interesting contrast of the whole event is with similar events in Paris, even modern Paris. In the old days there must have been a social gaiety about it that is now a thing of the past. The spirit may be present on the stage (though even that is doubtful)-it is certainly absent from the audience. Yet this opera is of the sort to revive it, and perhaps at evening performances it may be more in evidence.

But why the retrospection? After all, what is gone is gone. If we cannot have Shakespeare as drama it is perhaps just as well to have him dramatized to waltz tunes and other light ditties; and if we cannot have the sensational social flavor of other days, we can, at least, listen to these light airs and see the furbelows of '67, when opera was not taken seriously.

ANACHRONISTIC

As to that, it is all very amusing. When Lucrezia Bori, as Juliet, stands out in front in the ball-room (while the guests all mysteriously vanish) and sings a thing of quirks and trills-sings it delightfully, with excellent coloratura-we may wonder how it happens, but we will certainly not quarrel with this means of presenting a good artist in a good song. When the waltzes start up, we may wonder, indeed, how it comes that the nineteenth century waltz appears in a work of which the dramatic action takes place several hundred years before the waltz was invented, but that does not prevent us from enjoying it.

It may be said, too, that most people will be delighted at the return of this opera to the boards (after eleven years) and will find it a real relief from the dramatic works that one cannot help taking more or less seriously, simply because the music acts directly on the emotions. Gounod's music, even in the most dramatic scenes, is never emotional. He carefully avoided emotion. It would have been as much out of place in his day in the Paris opera as anything but small-talk at the dinner table of fashion. But it is nice, pretty music, and it makes the people sing.

GIGLI A FINE ROMEO

Lucrezia Bori as Juliet added another of the charming portraits of which she has given New York so many since she joined the Metropolitan; and she had not only charm, but genuine emotion in the later scenes of the opera. One enjoyed to the full her lovely voice and her splendid singing and felt real sympathy for or her, so moving was her acting in the tragic moments. In Gigli she had a worthy partner. Gigli is always a master of song and the cantabile style of Gounod is especially suited to him. His entire singing of the role was an ideal exposition of the lyric art. Best of all, however, was the fact that he showed distinct improvement in his acting. In this role he happily did not take pains, as he often has before, to deliver every telling phrase straight at the audience, unmindful of what the dramatic situation demanded, but kept himself always within the picture, playing with his fellow artists and particularly with Bon. He deserves another word of praise for his unexpected ability as a swordsman. His fight with Tybalt had all the effect of reality, being anything but the conventional up-down movements of the average operatic artist.

Giuseppe de Luca as Mercutio shared the singing honors of the afternoon. Finished artist that he always is, his Ballad of Queen Mab was exquisitely sung. Leon Rothier's habitual solemnity was for once in place in the role of Friar Laurent. Angelo Bada contributed another of his finely worked out character sketches as Tybalt. The rest of the entirely satisfactory cast included Mmes. Delaunois and Wakefield, and Messrs. Paltrinieri, Picco, Ananian, Didur, and d'Angelo. Louis Hasselmans, conducting, found himself at home in this French score and made much of the music, especially the orchestral interludes.



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