[Met Performance] CID:89260
Carmen {295} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/6/1925.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 6, 1925


CARMEN {295}

Carmen..................Ina Bourskaya
Don José................Edward Johnson
Micaela.................Queena Mario
Escamillo...............Giuseppe De Luca
Frasquita...............Grace Anthony
Mercédès................Henriette Wakefield
Remendado...............George Meader
Dancaïre................Paolo Ananian
Zuniga..................Giovanni Martino
Moralès.................Lawrence Tibbett

Act IV Ballet - Arranged by Rosina Galli, Premiere Danseuse

1. Entrance of Farandole: Corps de Ballet
2. "Petit Mari, Petite Femme" ("Jeux d'Enfant"): Rosina Galli, Giuseppe Bonfiglio
3. Fan Dance: Florence Rudolph, Florence McNally, Rita De Leporte, Jessie York,
Jessie Rogge, Lilyan Ogden, Florence Glover, Ruth Viemeister
4. Bolero (Serenade Espagnole): Rosina Galli, Giuseppe Bonfiglio
5. Farandole: Rosina Galli, Giuseppe Bonfiglio, Corps de Ballet

Conductor...............Louis Hasselmans

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

"Carmen" at the Metropolitan

"Carmen" last night was less an opera than a spectacle and a divertissement with an opera as their pretext. The long ballet in the fourth act, with its blend of Arles and Seville, made us quite forget the dramatic characters and their fortunes; and the paltriness of the singing in the duet between Escamillo and Carmen, with which the dramatic action recommenced, did not help us to get interested in the characters again. Bizet's genius, however, proved irresistible before the act had been going another three minutes.

The performance, in general, improved as it went on. With one or two exceptions the singing was poor throughout; but it was much worse in the first two scenes than later. Mme. Bourskaya's Carmen was, at first, too much of the virago and too little of the siren, and her voice was more peculiar than pleasing. Dramatically she improved greatly as she went on, and the end of the third scene, in particular, was very finely done. Some persistently discordant notes marred Miss Queena Mario's otherwise agreeable singing of Micaela's music. Mr. Edward Johnson's Don José was an excellent piece of natural acting and was, for the most part, musically sung. But like so many other tenors, he had to pay the penalty for a little thoughtlessness on Bizet's part. Don José's music calls for a lyric tenor in the last two scenes; and it is seldom that the one voice is capable of meeting all the demand upon it. Mr. Johnson's voice had not all the power and passion that the last two scenes require, but he did all that intelligence could do to make up for the lack.

Apart from the excellently sung Morales of Mr. Tibbett, there is not much to be said for the rest of the cast. The pure, firm lines of Bizet's melodies ask for equally pure and firm singing; they are ruined when a sort of Sprechgesang is applied to them, as it too often was by Mr. de Luca as Escamillo. Mr. Ananian, as Dancairo, and others, made a similar mistake. In the scene in the tavern in which the smugglers chaff the captured officer, -- perhaps the most polished of musical irony to be found anywhere - there is no need to underline every verbal point at the expense of the melody, as was done last night. The wit and irony have been put into the music by the master, and all that is necessary is to let the music and the words run lightly from the tip of the tongue.

Mr. Hasselmans and the orchestra missed almost every point in the sparking score until the last act, when they gave us a fine illustration of the sleepers awakened. One quite unforgivable blot on the performance was the omission - too frequent nowadays, alas! - of the superb phrases of Frasquita, Mercedes and Carmen at the end of the Toreador's song.



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