[Met Performance] CID:89070
New production
Dinorah {3} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/22/1925.

(Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 22, 1925
In Italian
New production


DINORAH {3}
Meyerbeer-Barbier/Carré/Meyerbeer

Dinorah.................Amelita Galli-Curci
Corentin................Armand Tokatyan
Hoël....................Giuseppe De Luca
Huntsman................Louis D'Angelo
Harvester...............Max Altglass
Goatherd................Charlotte Ryan
Goatherd................Merle Alcock

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Antonio Rovescalli
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert

Translation by unknown

Dinorah received three performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America

Meyerbeer's Pastoral Opera Given at Metropolitan With Galli-Curci in Title Rôle - Tuneful Old Score Heard for First Time in This Opera House Since 1892 - Cast Includes De Luca and Tokatyan, with Papi as Conductor.


Mad. in that sweetly bucolic fashion which so enamored romance-makers in the middle of the last century, the lyrical heroine of Meyerbeer's "Dinorah" danced with her shadow and pursued her goat on and off the stage of the Metropolitan Thursday night, for the first time in this opera house since 1892. Now that the old work is in the repertoire again, a moratorium should forthwith be declared with respect to all the obvious witticisms about its most innocent participant. Nothing in the opera is really the goat's fault.

Moreover, it is altogether probable that a considerable number of those who were utterly convinced that nothing Meyerbeer ever wrote could possibly be worth hearing, much less "Dinorah," came away from the Metropolitan revival pondering on the futility of fixed and sweeping judgments. The tinkle of this music of the eighteen-fifties will never electrify our modern world, but this performance demonstrated that, when given with sufficient artistry, it can afford a considerable measure of pleasure for even the hyper-sophisticated ears of 1925, and that it does supply an evening of enjoyable entertainment for the considerable army of opera-goers who are more interested in what they regard as good singing than in the aesthetic values of the music sung.

The Metropolitan's revival doubtless was undertaken to cast Amelita Galli-Curci in a part that, under other auspices, came to be regarded as her most fortunate one. It afforded opportunity, also, for two other gifted members of company, Giuseppe de Luca and Armand Tokatyan, to make use of their respective talents in old-fashioned "bel canto" and lyrical comedy.

The record shows that the opera was first given in Paris in 1859, and in America in 1864. It was prominent in Colonel Mapleson's Academy of Music repertoire, and it served to enhance mildly the fame of Marie Van Zandt and Jean Lassalle when the Metropolitan mounted it in 1892. Oscar Hammerstein gave it a whirl for the sake of Luisa Tetrazzini in 1907, and on Jan. 18, 1918, Mme. Galli-Curci made her New York debut in it at the Lexington, when the Chicago Company first brought her to Gotham as their newest and most sensational luminary. It was given in New York by the Chicagoans on two or three other occasions with the same star, the last time in February, 1920. Last season it was credited with being the cause of the rupture between the soprano and the middle-western organization, which can be construed as indicating that it is still capable of making operatic history

The story of "Dinorah," as devised by the librettists Barbier and Carré, busy booksmiths both, will be found in any of the many collections of operatic plots and need not be related anew here. Its insipidity and incredibleness are such as to cause a present-day opera-goer to marvel that his antecessors of three-quarters of a century ago could actually have taken such a tale seriously.

Today, however, there is no need to look at the story in this light. There is something of charm in its naiveté, its quality of being utterly and hopelessly old-fashioned. Certainly no one can expect the thrill of realism when the bridge over which Dinorah's goat has just passed is swept away the instant she puts a foot on it, plunging her into the flood. But the opera has to have incidents of some kind, along with its solos, trios, quartets and choruses, and one of them might as well be this. The cold bath restores Dinorah's reason and reunites her to the treasure-hunting Hoèl. There is religious and secular rejoicing and a touch of Brêton pageantry. Why not? It all serves vaguely to explain the attractive title the librettists gave their work in French-"The Pardon of Ploërmal" - "Ploërmal" being the spot where reason returns and where love is crowned, and where the Brêton peasant folk parade. Again. one asks, why not?

Musically, "Dinorah" had dwindled through its years of comparative desuetude to the soprano "Shadow Song" - "Ombra leggiera" - and the baritone air of the last act, "Sei vendicata assai," but now that the score has been restored to currency at the Metropolitan, other portions of it are likely to be listened to with at least as much enjoyment as the old tunes of a half dozen other operas that might be named. Thursday night's audience gave indications of taking pleasure in the overture, with its recurring retroscena chorus, "Santa Maria," and its several pronounced Meyerbeerian melodies. It took note of Dinorah's sweetly obsolescent lullaby in the first act, in which the goat is the object of her lyrical affection, of the terzet against the storm, of Corentino's tuneful fright, of Hoël's several solos, of the villatic chorus which opens the second act, and of the once-famous "Chant du Chasseur," besides the sufficiently popular "Shadow Song." Nor was it necessary, once the right perspective had been acquired, to think of this music in terms of "Götterdämmerung."

Mme. Galli-Curci achieved the titular part with an attractive quality of artlessness, trotting about as ingenuously as the goat which the Metropolitan was required to add to its stage menagerie. If she had been more consistently on pitch her singing would have been everything the part requires. It was singing of much tonal velvet, easily and smoothly projected always lyrical, always musical - and singing which in its simple artlessness of style matched the naive effectiveness of the pictorial side of the characterization. She was equally graceful in cantilena and in the bravura with which Meyerbeer embroidered the rôle. There was the inevitable outburst of applause after the "Shadow Song," and the soprano took several curtain calls alone.

Mr. De Luca's Hoël was worthy of the traditions of a part in which most of the great baritones of the last century were famed, though the rôle seems to have been particularly the pride of Fauré. The Metropolitan artist sang with finely musical tone and much finesse of phrase, achieving a particularly arresting beauty in soft passages.

The gift for comedy which Armand Tokatyan first disclosed in "Anima Allegra" was divertingly utilized in his depiction of the cracked piper, Corentino, and he sang his music, most of it of a spirit bordering on farce, exceptionally well. Mr. D'Angelo delivered the Huntsman's song passably well, but with no very stirring effect. The others in the cast figured only in concerted numbers. Either the reviewer slumbered or the contralto air sung so effectively at the first Chicago performance by Carolina Lazzari was eliminated entirely. Mr. Papi's conducting of the score was adequate and the stage management the same.

The Rovescali settings were of the routine order that has come to be expected in these Milanese and Viennese importations. Apparently the ateliers patronized by the Metropolitan abroad are not assuming any risks of scandalizing our American audiences by being revolutionary. But what would you have - for the spirit of 1859 and "Dinorah?"


Review of guest critic Ernest Newman (UK) in the Post

'Dinorah' at the Metropolitan

The present production of "Dinorah," I understand, is the first in some twenty years. Presumably the opera was revived for the benefit of Madame Galli-Curci; apart from "Ombra leggiera," indeed, there seems little reason for it ever being heard nowadays, except to throw a light upon the musical mentality of our grandfathers. But we are too apt to forget that our grandfathers did not look at these old operas from our point of view. To us, a part like Rosina or Gilda or Dinorah has become a mere piece of coloratura; to our grandfathers, as we can discover by reading any of the old-time critics, there were genuine acting parts in addition. To us, "Dinorah" is absurd and incredible; to her own generation she was a character, - or as near a character as an Italian opera personage can ever be said to get. When one of these old parts is really acted as well as sung, we are surprised to find how much truth there is to life underneath the old-fashioned music; that is our experience, for example, when we see Maria Ivogun as Gilda in "Rigoletto," Verdi becomes for the moment, almost our contemporary.

Mme. Galli-Curci makes little attempt to put psychological life into her Dinorah. She is only 5 percent actress to 95 percent singer; so she is wisely content to sing as well as she can at the moment, and for the rest leave the carrying on of such drama as there is to the others. I am still hoping to hear Mme. Galli-Curci sing a whole role in tune. Last night, for a great part of the time, she and the orchestra differed pointedly on the subject of pitch. But the technique was there - not quite the technique of the great prime donne of the last generation, perhaps, but still good enough for these less considered days. Where Mme. Galli-Curci gives us more pleasure than the coloratura stars who are now only a memory to us is in the timber of her voice. There is none of the tiresome whiteness in it of the ordinary coloratura soprano; it has a curious contralto richness in it at times. If this unique quality of tone had been under the control of a first-rate dramatic mentality, we should have had some of the most marvelous vocal expression of our day. As it is, the instrument seems to have the wrong performer, or the performer the wrong instrument.

Mme. Galli-Curci seemed nervous, but improved as the scenes went on. "Ombra leggiera" has often been sung better from the point of view of sheer execution, but the performance of it, for all that, had an intriguing quality of its own. Mr. de Luca worked hard as Hoel, but it seems impossible to give any life to the character in our day; one waits for "Sei vendicata assai." And when that is over one is finished with Hoel. But at any rate we could enjoy last night Mr. De Luca's singing. Mr. Tokatyan was a most amusing Corentino, always bringing a new touch of comedy into the scene, yet never exaggerating, and never letting his rustic nonsense get in the way of the main action. Mr. Papi conducted energetically. The scenery was crudely oleographic; I found it was difficult to believe I was at the Metropolitan.



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