[Met Performance] CID:83900
L'Africaine {26} Metropolitan Opera House: 04/2/1923.


Metropolitan Opera House
April 2, 1923
In Italian


Sélika..................Rosa Ponselle
Vasco de Gama...........Beniamino Gigli
Inès....................Marie Sundelius
Nélusko.................Giuseppe Danise
Pedro...................Adamo Didur
Diégo...................Paolo Ananian
Alvar...................Angelo Badà
Grand Inquisitor........Léon Rothier
High Priest.............Léon Rothier
Anna....................Marion Telva
Usher...................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Officer.................Pietro Audisio

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

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Herald

Gigli and Danise Have Chief Roles in L'Africaine

Meyerbeer Opera Heard at the Metropolitan by a Large Audience.

Meyerbeer's L'Africaine a was presented to the Monday subscribers at the Metropolitan Opera House last evening. The opera was heard by a large audience and the applause was of the nature to show that great pleasure was obtained by the assembly. There had been some doubt as to the representative of the dusky Nelusko, the baritone savage who, after the habit of operatic baritones, is unfortunate in love.

Giuseppe Danise, who impersonated Nelusko at the one previous performance of the work, had been ill and was unable to appear as Gerard in "Andrea Chenier" on Saturday. On that occasion Mr. De Luca was summoned to sing a part which had been unused in his repertory for twenty-two years. Mr. Danise had recovered and was quite able to deliver the music of Meyerbeer in his usual telling manner. Mr. Gigli was heard again as Vasco de Gama, one of the elitest seamen in all opera. The tenor again had a brilliant success, though it must be confessed that his best friends would be glad if he would be more considerate of his voice. He is such an excellent singer that it is unnecessary for him to try to arouse the audience by sheer dynamics. Furthermore, it will not benefit his voice, but is likely to take away from it some of the smoothness and mellowness which are its greatest charms.

One change in the cast calls for special mention. Mme. Marie Sundelius replaced Miss Queena Mario as Inez. Such changes in Metropolitan casts are incidental to the numerous requirements of the theater. They do not mean that the first singer was not satisfactory. Miss Sundelius sang the music well. She can always be trusted to sing agreeably and to meet the conventional calls of such a role as Inez.

Miss Rosa Ponselle had her second opportunity to warble the melodious measures of Selika, to rule a brief half hour over an island kingdom and to die of quick poison under the deadly manzanilla tree. She was in good voice and sang well. Mr. Didur as Don Pedro, Paolo Ananian as Don Diego and Mr. Rothier as the two high priests, Catholic and Brahmin. The spectacular features of the opera were well displayed. The ship blew up impressively and the ballet danced vivaciously. Mr. Bodanzky conducted again with excellent judgment.

Review of P. Charles Rodda in Musical America

Miss Ponselle was regal in voice and gesture as the captive queen, Selika. Her air "In grembo a me" in the second act was finely sung, and she was effectively dramatic in the subsequent encounter with Nelusko. Some of her best work was accomplished in the episode before the temple where she persuades Nelusko to support her in her efforts to save the life of Vasco. The final scene under the manzanilla tree, in which, a solitary figure, she sings of the lover to whom she has given freedom, was an opportunity she accepted with much beauty of tone. The last aria, during which she breathes the scent of the deadly manzanilla, was sung with much feeling.

Like Mr. Gigli and Miss Ponselle, Mr. Danise in the role of Nelusko, who is doomed to love in vain, had his great moments. He used his sonorous voice with much artistry in his many scenes, and his success was immediately conceded in the ballad "Adamastor, re dell'onde profonde," in which he warns the mariners of the approaching storm. He was also admirable in the "Figlia dei re" aria in the prison scene.

Fine Artists in Cast

The singing of the three artists discussed would be sufficient to ensure the success of the revival, but the rest of the cast was apparently chosen with as much care. Queena Mario was entrusted with the role of Ines and she did much agreeable singing during the evening. Miss Mario has had several opportunities to prove her merits during this, her first, season at the Metropolitan, but Ines was her most important assignment so far. With charm and grace she played a part which is ordinarily colorless. Her aria "Del Tago sponde addio" in the first act was confidently sung, and later her voice soared clear and musical in concerted scenes. Such an artist as Adamo Didur was found in the small part of Don Pedro and admirably he played it. Leon Rothier demonstrated that a Grand Inquisitor and a Grand Brahmin were both easily negotiable in the course of an evening. Marion Telva as Anna, Paolo Ananian as Don Diego, and Angelo Bada as Don Alvaro took a share in the proceedings, and Vincenzo Resehiglian and Pietro Audisio also found small parts.

The ballet had a fine time in the penultimate scene when they accommodated themselves to the measures of not altogether thrilling music. Mr. Berger revealed his hand in a decided manner and, although the figures of the dance were worked out on conventional lines, there was much vitality in it. The precision of movement with which the assembled dancers came down the terrace of the temple startled the staid opera patrons into tumultuous applause.

Both chorus and orchestra were at their best and each was an important factor in the success of the revival. Artur Bodanzky showed a full appreciation of his task as conductor. His work was forceful, the dramatic parts of the score being admirably stressed and, if there were moments when interest wandered, it was not because the tempo lagged.

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