[Met Performance] CID:83720
Aida {281} Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/20/1923.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 20, 1923

AIDA {281}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Barbara Kemp
Radamès.................Morgan Kingston
Amneris.................Julia Claussen
Amonasro................Michael Bohnen
Ramfis..................José Mardones
King....................Edmund Burke
Messenger...............Pietro Audisio
Priestess...............Laura Robertson
Dance...................Florence Rudolph

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

Review (unsigned) in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin


Metropolitan Opera Company Gives Brilliant Setting to Verdi Classic

"Aida" was presented as a stupendous barbaric spectacle, enriched by several fine individual performances and splendid choral work in the performance at the Academy of Music last night.

The Aida of Barbara Kemp was a triumph. Singing in a powerful, clear voice, she was able to delineate her character so that the unfortunate princess-slave took on life. One barely realized the artistry back of the perfect phrasing and the variety of method that seemed to flow with such effortless ease. José Mardones sang the part of Ramfis, the head priest, with fine effect. In his demand for the lives of the conquered prisoners he realized a mood of relentlessness and austere majesty. Michael Bohnen was tempestuous as Amonasro, and Julia Claussen was adequate, though harsh at times, as Amneris, the Egyptian princess.

Morgan Kingston, a lyric rather than a dramatic tenor, made his first appearance in Philadelphia as Radames. The Caruso tradition was too much for him. In his third act scene with Aida and Amonasro and in the duet "Farewell to Earth," with Aida, in the last act, he was at his best. At other times, when the orchestra were ascending to one of the thunderous climaxes he gave the unfortunate impression of a man who was standing on the stage and making faces at the audience.

No single performance could take away the first honors from the second act wherein Radames returns to Thebes. The color on the stage was of tropical vividness. The ballet swerved and gyrated like so many living flowers. The swelling mass of song, the towering, massive walls of Thebes, the marching legions and their captives stirred the audience to long applause. One searching for incongruities noticed the costumed brasses who assisted the orchestra from the stage, presented the diverting picture of ancient Egyptians manipulating slide trombones. But one forgot this anomaly when the famous march began. Equally well managed was the second scene of Act I, in the temple of Phta. A mighty idol, dimly illuminated, filled the center of the picture. Great pillars were on either side. And the off stage singing of women and responses of the priests were perfectly synchronized. Roberto Moranzoni conducted with a fine sensitiveness for effect that got the utmost from the score.

From the review (unsigned) in the Philadelphia Record

The performance, although it was not of the sort that may be called brilliant, was notably good. The chorus work was excellent and in the ensembles there were real thrills. Morgan Kingston was the Radames. He could not efface memories of the great Caruso, yet the Kingston performance was dignified and agreeable, and he sang with effectiveness and in ringing tones. He hardly dominated when he might, yet he was at the same time a heroic figure. Mme. Kemp again showed herself to be a splendid actress, just as in "Mona Lisa" She fits the action to the word, very naturally, and in this respect she is remindful on occasions of Mary Garden. Mme. Kemp has a dramatic soprano voice that she used to good purpose. She reserved some of her tones for the big moments, and in ensembles her voice soared as much as any audience could desire. She had the audience's favor, and there were enthusiastic curtain calls for her, as there were also for other members of the cast. The darkened skin demanded of one who has the role of Aida was rather trying upon Mme. Kemp, who seemed homely under the pigment, but her gracious smile gave a new aspect and those smiling glances showed her to be really pretty.

Julia Claussen's rich contralto was admirably used in the part of Amneris. Mme. Claussen gave, throughout,
a performance of distinction. Bohnen, as Amonasro, presented a spirited and earnest interpretation, and his voice generally was most agreeable, although it is occasionally harsh. José Mardones was splendidly sonorous as Ramfis. Edmund Burke was in the role of the King. The performance was conducted by Roberto Moranzoni. His work was well done, in spite of a too vociferous prompter, who rather spoiled some of the effect of the opera by audible cue-giving.

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