[Met Performance] CID:87370
Aida {293} Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/28/1924.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
April 28, 1924


AIDA {293}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Rosa Ponselle
Radamès.................Giovanni Martinelli
Amneris.................Julia Claussen
Amonasro................Giuseppe Danise
Ramfis..................José Mardones
King....................Louis D'Angelo
Messenger...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Priestess...............Nannette Guilford
Dance...................Rosina Galli

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

Review of Wilson O. Smith in the Cleveland Press

'AIDA' PLEASES 8000

When the Khedive of Egypt commissioned Verdi to write for his delectation, "Aida," he unwittingly became the sponsor of a masterwork, one that has the perennial virtue of longevity, not to say immortality. By a similarity of coincidence, when the Cleveland Concert Co., through its persuasive eloquence, induced Otto H. Kahn to bring his Metropolitan forces to Cleveland, it unknowingly - possibly - was the means of giving - sponsoring, in fact - the finest presentation of grand opera this habitat has ever seen or listened to.

And there you have the story of Monday night's presentation told succinctly and with brevity. New York habitués told me in the foyer that it even excelled the home production. And it is easily accounted for when we consider that an audience of more than 8000 lent inspiration to the singers by their receptivity, made manifest by enthusiastic and uncontrolled acclaim. The applause had the semblances of a cyclone and muttering of thunder ad libitum, and there was calm to the tempest until the artists responded to numerous curtain calls.

Now this scribe has heard grand opera in Paris, Berlin, London, New York and other localities too numerous to mention, but never has he been so impressed with the spectacular and theatric magnificence and munificence of grand opera as he was on this occasion.

Presentation Unequaled

The scenic investiture was of regal splendor, the costuming of royal similitude. The chorus of such kind that memory fails to recall its equal, the orchestra of genuine symphonic character, and the soloists, without exception, of the finest tonal balance and artistic vocalization. Also there was a ballet with Rosina Galli, premiere danseuse, whose evolutions charmed the eye and delighted the sense of rhythm and equilibrium.

And now for the principals of the cast. Rosa Ponselle in the role of Aida gave to it an impersonation both vocally and histrionically that could not be excelled. To make use of the vernacular, she looked the part to perfection, acted it ditto, and with her lovely - and at times intensely dramatic - voice fulfilled its requirements with supreme achievement. Never in former appearances has she sounded so superbly and effectively.

Martinelli as Radames, with his heroic voice, sang the role in splendid fashion. His interpretation of "Celeste Aida" was something long to be remembered. His voice has taken on a robust and heroic quality that fitted the character to exactness, likewise, in an histrionic way, he imparted to the difficult role a realism that was most impressive.

The role of Amneris was assumed by Julia Claussen in lieu of Karin Branzell, previously announced, and the assumption was a splendid realization of artistic singing and acting. Her voice has lost none of its opulent sonority as was evident in her scene with Aida. Both artists gave intensely emotional and dramatic portrayals of their respective roles. D'Angelo was the King, Mardones was Ramfis, and Danise as Amonsaro completed the tonal picture with their excellent singing and portrayals.

I cannot forbear mentioning the super-excellence of the chorus. It certainly was the finest modulated and finesse satisfying choral work I have ever heard in opera - grand or otherwise.

Too, the ballet dancing was an example of synchronism, seldom envisioned either in opera or other temples of terpsichore. The advance evidence of the exceptional treat that was to follow was indicated in the orchestral prelude which, under the baton of Moranzoni, was played with a subtlety and finesse that at once awakened anticipation to the highest altitude, nor was one disappointed in what followed.

So, in closing, I have no hesitation in stating that the presentation of "Aida" excelled anything ever heard in this locality; nay, I will even go further and say that no flight of the imagination could picture anything to excel it. And you will admit that is a pretty broad statement for a carping critic to make.



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