[Met Performance] CID:90320
Mefistofele {51} Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia: 04/24/1925.


Atlanta, Georgia
April 24, 1925


Mefistofele.............Fyodor Chaliapin
Faust...................Giacomo Lauri-Volpi
Margherita..............Frances Alda
Elena...................Frances Peralta
Wagner..................Angelo Badą
Marta...................Kathleen Howard
Pantalis................Marion Telva
Nerčo...................Giordano Paltrinieri

Conductor...............Tullio Serafin

Review of Ralph T. Jones in the Atlanta Constitution



Russia's Greatest Singer Brings Forgetfulness of Time and Place to Thousands Friday


Popular Star Appears in 'Cavalleria Rusticana;' Double Bill Offered. Doors Close at 7:45

Twenty years from today, people who were blessed enough to be numbered among the 4,000 in the auditorium Friday night, will still be telling their children about that performance of "Mefistofele." They will be telling how they heard Chaliapin, Alda, Lauri-Volpi and Peralta sing. They will still be marveling over the stupendous scenic effects and the supreme ballet. They will still be awed as recollection brings back the overwhelming grandeur of the entire production.

We have seen Chaliapin in Atlanta before, as a king. Twice; once in "Don Carlo" and once in "Boris." Friday night we saw him as Mephisto and we said again "Here is a king." This time he was king of the nether regions, monarch over demons, satyrs and the spirits of the damned, but still he was kingly and the ruler supreme.

The great Russian basso was Satan personified, in voice, in appearance and in acting. This man is undoubtedly the most tremendous individual to come upon any stage in the present generation. If he could not sing a role he would yet be a marvel for his acting. If he could not act, his voice nevertheless would make him great.

Today is the End

Today is the end of the 1925 opera season. Three of the greatest are to be given before midnight closes the great annual gala week for another year. This afternoon "Tales of Hoffmann." is to be given, with Edward Johnson in the title role, and a supporting cast that reads almost like a roster of the Met, and includes such singers as Bori, Hunter, De Luca Tibbett, etc. One of the most delightful programs of the week is expected.

Tonight there is to be a double bill, [beginning] with "Tosca," the opera originally announced, there will be given, in addition, "Cavalleria Rusticana.' In the latter opera, Rosa Ponselle, Atlanta's supreme soprano favorite, will sing. Confined to her room at the Biltmore with throat trouble, Ponselle was forced to forgo singing in either "Gioconda" or "La Juive," her two advertised appearances of the week. But all week she has been fretting and worrying about her inability to sing. She has been making the life of a famous throat specialist miserable as she begged him to "do something' so that she might go down to the auditorium and give of her glorious gift of voice to the thousands of Atlanta friends. "They are so good to me," she cries, "and I can't disappoint them."

Ponselle Will Sing

So, for tonight, it has been arranged that two operas be given so that Ponselle may sing Santuzza in 'Cavalleria." This is one of her favorite roles and she is going to try, she declares, to sing it so as to make up for all the disappointment her admirers have suffered during the week. And she will be able to sing, it is particularly certain. For on Friday, the doctor giving his permission, she tried out her voice a little and no woman in the world ever looked greater than did Atlanta's Rosa when she found that she would be able to sing for Atlanta tonight.

An important point to remember is that,on account of the double bill, the curtain on "Tosca" will rise tonight promptly at 7:45, fifteen minutes ahead of the usual time. And, as usual, the rising of the curtain will be simultaneous with the closing of the doors and late comers will be forced to stay outside until after the first act. The curtain rises on the matinee at 2 o'clock.

Entire Cast is Great

Friday night's performance was more than Chaliapin. True, it was a Chaliapin night. It was also, however an Alda night, a Lauri-Volpi night and a Peralta night.

Atlanta has known for years that Madame Alda is one of the greatest of living sopranos. But not until Friday night did we guess to what perfection of voice and performance she could rise. She was inspired in the role of Margherita," and as the lovely full rounded notes rose from her magic throat Atlanta accorded her the laurels of a new and surpassing greatness.

And Lauri-Volpi. We heard him for the first time last Monday and then acclaimed him a genuine new find in the ranks of great tenors. But in "Mefistofele" we forgot to be critical. We forgot to make mental comparisons. We simply listened to his inspired singing and whenever the opportunity offered poured out a riot of applause, letting loose the wild pent-up enthusiasm of fantasies faced with a suddenly acquired new object of hero worship.

Peralta and Telva

Then, the last act, came Peralta and Marion Telva. Peralta sang splendidly on Monday when she took the place of Rosa Ponselle in "La Gioconda" at a minute's notice. Friday night she sang divinely, her full-throated soprano ringing out like the peal of a full-toned bell above the crashing chords of the mighty orchestra and the full rolling waves of the Metropolitan chorus.

The stage effects by Joseph Urban are the most magnificent of all stage productions. The ballet combines with the effects to produce the most dramatic pictures any stage ever saw. That scene in Brocken in the second act passes beyond comprehension in its perfect effect of dread and wild horror.

But never forget that the figure that centered all attention every moment he was on the stage, was Chaliapin the supreme. There is no other and there never will be. The magnificence of his voice we know. The splendor of his acting we know. But still it remains a marvel to talk about when any man by the very magnetism of his presence on the stage can keep every eye focused on him, whether he sings or is silent, whether others are singing or not. That is the supreme test that Chaliapin meets.

We have had a tremendous week. It has been varied enough to suit the greatest range of tastes. The two greatest performances, in popular estimate, have so far been the Wednesday night "La Juive" when Martinelli scored his Atlanta triumph, and Friday when Chaliapin again proved himself a creature almost superhuman in his singing and acting power.

Now with three operas for a single day, the season will close on a final Saturday night bill, that it seems probable will outdo all that has gone before. But, whatever happens today, remember for your old age all that you saw and heard and felt on Friday night. For you witnessed and heard then the utmost in operatic production, a perfect blending of all the arts in an unparalleled perfect whole.

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