[Met Performance] CID:85110
New production (L'Amico Fritz)
L'Oracolo {40}
L'Amico Fritz {2}
Metropolitan Opera House: 11/15/1923.

(Debut: Merle Alcock

Metropolitan Opera House
November 15, 1923


Ah-Joe..................Queena Mario
Uin-San-Lui.............Mario Chamlee
Cim-Fen.................Antonio Scotti
Uin-Scī.................Adamo Didur
Hu-Tsin.................Louis D'Angelo
Hu-Cī...................Aida Paltrinieri
Hua-Qui.................Marion Telva
Fortuneteller...........Pietro Audisio

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

Director................Armando Agnini
Set designer............James Fox

L'Oracolo received seven performances this season.

New production


Fritz...................Miguel Fleta
Suzel...................Lucrezia Bori
Rabbi David.............Giuseppe Danise
Beppe...................Merle Alcock [Debut]
Caterina................Grace Anthony
Federico................Giordano Paltrinieri
Hanezņ..................Pompilio Malatesta

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

Director................Samuel Thewman
Designer................Joseph Urban

L'Amico Fritz received five performances this season.

Review of Bernard Rogers in the Musical America of November 24, 1923

Mascagni's Comedy Restored to Metropolitan Repertoire After Almost Thirty Years' Absence - Merle Alcock Makes Successful Debut as "Beppe" - Bori, Fleta and Danise Perform with Notable Art

L'AMICO FRITZ," like another Rip Van Winkle, went to sleep in New York thirty years ago and awoke on Thursday evening of last week heavy with slumber. Which is another way of saying that Pietro Mascagni's lyric opera was "revived" on the identical spot where it was last seen in January, 1894-the Metropolitan Opera stage. The wandering work was hailed with considerable affection by a large audience, and, decked out in new and shining garments from the hand of Joseph Urban, made an agreeable impression upon the eye.

In the generation that has passed since Fritz and his friends were last seen and heard in these parts, tastes have altered, and we like to think for the better. It is not conceivable that the score sounded quite so tame or that the play looked quite so ingenious to the audience that assembled at its Metropolitan premiere back in '94, when Emma Calve played the role of Suzel. The opera quickly departed this life so far as New York was concerned. It had but two performances until last Thursday when Mr. Gatti-Casazza made the total an even three in thirty years.

"L'Amico Fritz" was brilliantly sung, acted and mounted last week. Its cast included Lucrezia Bori and the Metropolitan's remarkable new Spanish tenor, Miguel Fleta, and the occasion was further marked by the Metropolitan debut of the American contralto, Merle Alcock. On every side this latest representation was of notable quality.

A Pastoral Idyll

A pleasant pastoral romance is "L'Amico Fritz." The story, by Erckmann-Chatrian, concerns itself with a popular young Alsatian gentleman-farmer, Fritz Kobus, known as "Friend Fritz," and the efforts of his friend, the Rabbi David, to inveigle him into matrimony. Fritz will have nothing to do with the idea, but David is a hard man to daunt. It is Fritz's birthday when the play begins, and soon Suzel, daughter of a tenant-farmer, appears to felicitate the hero and to offer him a nosegay. Fritz is at once taken with the coy and gentle maid, but refuses to be finally ensnared. For the rest, the tale is of the machinations of the wily David, who with the aid of jealousy brings Fritz to the point of declaring himself to Suzel. The latter of course has silently adored him from the first.

Only this and nothing more; but Mascagni's librettist, Signor Suardon, has found sufficient here to construct three mildly engaging acts. There is charm in the book, a gentle, sleepy charm which might conceivably have inspired joyful and lovely music.

"Cavalleria" and "L'Amico Fritz"

The man who created so hot and vivid a setting for "Cavalleria" was, as one might say, beaten before he began "L'Amico Fritz." His special talent is certainly not hymning the delights of pastoral existence or igniting the spark of love for shy young rustic neighbors. Mascagni does melodrama excellently well, if you will; but his touch has not the feathery lightness nor has his wit the point and delicacy needed for idyllic comedy of this type. He possesses a certain power, which in "Cavalleria" exactly filled the bill. In "L'Amico Fritz" that same quality effectually clipped the wings of the play. The Erckmann-Chatrian story is dainty and romantic; Mascagni's musical setting is neither.

There is, however, a candid unpretentiousness about the opera. It claims to be no more than it is-a facile and inconsequential setting of a naive little story. Whether it will prove sufficiently entertaining to "make good" now that it has been given a chance at the Metropolitan remains to be seen. Last Thursday it was coupled with Franco Leoni's exciting curtain-raiser, "L'Oracolo," and there is no doubt that the two works are very effectively contrasted in style, story, music and atmosphere.

A Notable Performance

The performance of "L'Amico Fritz" was capital in every detail. Lucrezia Bori's Suzel was a fetching impersonation and was charming vocally, while Mr. Fleta as Fritz was thrice admirable and richly deserved the tribute of applause he received. What a virile voice is this tenor's and how beautiful its timbre! Histronically as well Mr. Fleta consistently kept to the spirit of his part. The duet between Fritz and Suzel under the cherry tree, in the second act, was magnificently sung and provoked a demonstration from the audience. Mme. Alcock made her Metropolitan debut as the gipsy fiddler, Beppe. The part has no real dramatic significance, but it gave to this sterling American contralto a chance to show the rich metal of her voice. She sang her two solos beautifully and was given a deserved ovation. Decidedly she is an acquisition to the roster.

But among all the rōles the finest and most faithful character delineation was Giuseppe Danise's of the Rabbi David. He entered fully into the spirit of his role and with consummate art sketched a most delightful and convincing character. His portrait of the cunning old marriage-plotter belongs in that small gallery of Metropolitan portraits bearing the most famous signatures. The lesser roles of Hanezo and Federico were most competently enacted by Pompilio Malatesta and Giordano Paltrinieri, while Grace Anthony was worthy as the housekeeper, Caterina.

Mr. Urban's settings were brilliant affairs which met the eye pleasantly. They conveyed the sunny spirit of the story in striking fashion. The setting for Act II, with its realistic cherry tree, took the audience's fancy at once and excited a burst of applause.

"L'Oracolo," which preceded the Mascagni work, received its usual excellent performance, Messrs. Scotti, Didur, Chamlee, D'Angelo and Mmes. Mario and Telva playing the San Francisco Celestials with satisfying art. This was Queena Mario's first Metropolitan appearance in the part of Ali-Yoe, and she successfully met its demands. Roberto Moranzoni conducted both operas finely indeed and was given a well-earned meed of applause.

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