[Met Performance] CID:91240
L'Africaine {42} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1925.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1925 Matinee
In Italian


L'AFRICAINE {42}

Sélika..................Rosa Ponselle
Vasco de Gama...........Mario Chamlee
Inès....................Queena Mario
Nélusko.................Giuseppe De Luca
Pedro...................Adamo Didur
Diégo...................Paolo Ananian
Alvar...................Giordano Paltrinieri
Grand Inquisitor........Léon Rothier
High Priest.............Léon Rothier
Anna....................Henriette Wakefield
Usher...................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Officer.................Max Altglass

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


Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America


The season's second "L'Africaine" acquired a fresh interest at the Saturday matinee that was not inherent in Scribe's cardboard characters or Meyerbeer's jejune score. The question has been asked on other occasions-what would this opera be without Beniamino Gigli? Only his beautiful singing, seconded chiefly by that of Rosa Ponselle, has made "L'Africaine" seem worth inclusion in the Metropolitan repertoire, spectacular as are some features of its stagecraft.

That there is more than one tenor at the house of Mr. Gatti-Casazza who can give the airs of Vasco da Gama their tonal due was disclosed unexpectedly at this performance, however. Mario Chamlee, the American with the Caruso-like Italian production, was called upon at the eleventh hour to take over the role. He knew its music, but had never had so much as a stage rehearsal of its action. With that ready adaptability he has shown on other occasions he donned the garb of the Portuguese explorer and with scarcely a moment of uncertainty in pose or gesture to suggest that the part was new to him, he sang so effectively as to make it clear that Vasco is among his happiest roles. "O Paradiso" had not only charm of voice, but the character of reverie which the more lachrymose projection of the air by overemotional tenors often denies it.

Miss Ponselle's superb organ is worthy of better music than that of Selika, though this tends to emphasize the volume of tone and the very good trill she has at her command. Her characterization still lacks physical repose and her dusky make-up could be improved. Giuseppe de Luca as Nelusko made a surprising false start during the orchestral introduction of "Figlia dei Re," but afterward sang with such art and vigor as to all but efface this contretemps. Queena Mario was again a silvery-voiced Ines, and the competent cast included also Adamo Didur, Léon Rothier, Giordano Paltrinieri, Henriette Wakefield, Vincenzo Reschiglian and Max Altglass.

Mr. Serafin conducted, doing the best he could with music that sounds centuries older than the recently exhumed "La Vestale," which preceded "L'Africaine" by nearly sixty years. The matinée audience called the chief artists before the curtain many times.



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