[Met Performance] CID:89240
Cavalleria Rusticana {228}
Le Coq d'Or {39}
Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 02/5/1925.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 5, 1925 Matinee


CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA {228}

Santuzza................Frances Peralta
Turiddu.................Beniamino Gigli
Lola....................Merle Alcock
Alfio...................Vincente Ballester
Mamma Lucia.............Grace Anthony

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


In French
LE COQ D'OR {39}
Rimsky-Korsakov-Byelsky

ROLE...............SINGER...................DANCER

Cockerel...........Charlotte Ryan
Queen..............Amelita Galli-Curci......Rosina Galli
Dodon..............Adamo Didur..............Alexis Kosloff
Amelfa.............Marion Telva.............Florence Rudolph
Astrologer.........Rafaelo Diaz.............Giuseppe Bonfiglio
Polkan.............Louis D'Angelo...........Ottokar Bartik
Gvidon.............Giordano Paltrinieri.....Isador Swee
Knight.............Vincenzo Reschiglian.....Domenico Da Re

Conductor...............Giuseppe Bamboschek

Director................Rosina Galli
Designer................Willy Pogany
Choreographer...........Rosina Galli
Translation by Calvocoressi

Le Coq d'Or received six performances this season.

[In company programs, Rimsky-Korsakov's opera was billed as Le Coq d'Or. Production based on a concept of Michel Fokine which had solo artists and chorus on the sides of the stage while the dancers portrayed the characters in the center.]

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

"Le Coq d'Or" at the Metropolitan

Rimsky-Korsakov's enchanting "Coq d'Or" is, I understand, always given at the Metropolitan in Fokine's version, -- which one is strongly tempted to call a perversion. If it be thought disrespectful to apply that term to a great artist to whose ballet inventions we owe so many happy hours, let me substitute for it "translation," and that into a language so different in vocabulary and idiom from the original that it is often quite impossible to avoid perversion. It was Fokine's "Coq d'Or" that we had first of all in England, but during the last seven or eight years it has always been given in its proper form as an opera - not a combination of opera and ballet, -- and no one who has seen both forms can doubt which is the right one.

Fokine's plan of having one set of people to sing the music and another to do the miming was an expansion of an eighteenth century method. It has, in theory at any rate, certain advantages, especially where, as in the second act of the "Coq d'Or," the singer, in addition to being able to sing difficult music well, has to be young and beautiful and know how to dance. I should say, however, that out of every possible ten points that the "Coq d'Or" can make, Fokine's ballet version scores three and loses seven. The occasional advantages of it will need no pointing out, but a word or two on its disadvantages may be of interest to those who have not seen the work given purely and simply as an opera.

The essence of the ballet being movement, the choreographic designer must keep the characters always in action; and if the music, at a given point negates the idea of action, the clash is disastrous. Such a point is that of the sleep of old King Dodon in the first act. In the operatic version, the stage becomes motionless and dead quiet. Dodon is asleep on the bed; the Nurse and a soldier or two close beside him, all confident that with the acquisition of the golden cockerel there is no need to worry about war's alarms. In this dead quiet that exquisite soft music of Rimsky-Korsakov's lulls us like the beating of gentle waves on a beach in summer. But Fokine cannot afford to keep his fingers still; and consequently the musical peace of the music is ruined by a lot of fidgeting puppets around the bed.

The Fokine method has no theoretical justification except that of getting better singing and better acting than the plainer method can give us. If the singing, for example, is not perfect, we are left with a worse disillusion and disappointment than when the singer and the actress are one. Such disillusion and disappointment I felt though the greater part of the second act yesterday. I have heard the Queen's music many a time better sung than it was by Mme. Galli-Curci. But even if she had been technically beyond reproach and perfectly in tune, the result would have been disappointing. The Queen's [starting] "Hymn to the Sun," like the sleep music in the first act, is ruined, for the musical hearer, by the substitution for the dramatic character of a number of posturing young women; there is a hopeless irreconcilability between their stereotyped flittings to and fro and the languorous grace of the music. Later there comes another clash between Fokine and Rimsky-Korsakov, in the scene where the Queen dances for the old King; the strict metrics and mathematics - not to say mechanics - of the ballet figures and ballet technique necessitates a rigidity of musical rhythm that must take the heart out of the singer, and that certainly ruins the music for the hearer; never have I heard the lovely song sound so flat as it did in yesterday's inflexible tempo.

Further, practically all the native humor of the work disappears when ballet dancers are substituted for the actors. Mr. Alexis Kosloff mimed King Dodon exceedingly cleverly, but it was always the miming of the ballet; under the old man's robes we were conscious of the lithe dancer's body, under the old beard of a young face, under the old wig of a young brain. But to any one who knows the music as it really is, it is obvious that Rimsky-Korsakov had in mind a genuine comic actor of old men's parts. Let one illustration serve for many. The phrase to which the king sings of his unwillingness to dance has a physiognomy and a psychology that are utterly at variance with the appearance and the movements of the King yesterday. At this point, Rimsky-Korsakov's music is both grotesque and pathetic; we realize that the King is an old fool and is carrying on like one, but we are also touched with pity for him. Fokine's choreography translates the passage into the simpler psychology of the nursery.

The purely operatic way of playing the opera is far richer in humor; nothing that Fokine and the ballet master can give us in their own limited medium can compare with Dodon and General Polkan and Amelfa as played and sung by competent actors; only then do we fully realize the genial satire of the music. And yesterday I felt particularly cheated by the absence of those two loveable idiots, the sons of King Dodon.

But, although to meet with Fokine's version again after having been accustomed to the proper version for so many years was a disappointment, yesterday's production was a charming entertainment of its kind. Mr. Rafael Diaz sang the Astrologer's high-pitched music better than I have ever heard it sung. Mr. Didur also did justice to the King's music; and the other parts were all fairly well done. The settings were delightful, especially that of the second act. The timing of the singing and the gestures was not always perfect, and the choreography in general, good as it was, did not make us forget the great days of the Dhiagileff company at its best.



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