[Met Performance] CID:91490
Faust {351} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/10/1925.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 10, 1925

FAUST {351}

Faust...................Edward Johnson
Marguerite..............Frances Alda
Méphistophélès..........Fyodor Chaliapin
Valentin................Mario Basiola
Siebel..................Ellen Dalossy
Marthe..................Kathleen Howard
Wagner..................Louis D'Angelo

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

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America

Back to the Red Devil

In bidding adieu to Metropolitan audiences until March when he will return to don the armor of the addled knight in Massenet's "Don Quixote," Feodor Chaliapin restored the red devil to the opera house. At the only previous performance of Gounod's "Faust" this season, José Mardones had dressed Mephistopheles in the attire of a gentleman of the day with only a satanic touch to the wig, and memories were still fresh of the all-grey Lucifer introduced last season by Michael Bohnen. Save for a skyscraping feather that had an odd way of suggesting the American Indian, the cavalier who half danced the "Calf of Gold" air was in appearance only a larger edition of the traditional devil of opera and of melodrama.

There was also much that was routine in Chaliapin's acting of the role, though he again lifted the third-act scene with Marguerite (what once was the Church Scene, but is now combined with the succeeding street episodes) out of the traditional by his baleful, macabre treatment of it. Here, swathed in black, he gave an uncomfortable feeling of one who had come, not from a fire-bright Inferno, but from the clammy earth of a freshly opened grave.

Otherwise, the characterization was marked more by grace and pictorial detail than by the intensity or the masterfulness which audiences have came to expect of this unusual singing actor. In good voice, he gave perhaps the best performance of the Gounod role, vocally, that he has placed to his credit in New York.

Edward Johnson was a good looking Faust who sang with restraint and taste. Mario Basiola, essaying Valentin for the first time in these surroundings, used his voice smoothly in the first act cavatina, and after the duel episode died rather more realistically than some of his predecessors in the role. Others in the cast were familiar interpreters of their parts, Frances Alda reappearing as Marguerite, Kathleen Howard contributing materially to the comedy as Martha, Ellen Dalossy singing Siebel and Louis D'Angelo, Wagner. Mr. Hasselmans conducted, and although his principals and his orchestra were not always thoroughly in agreement as to the pitch, the performance had a liberal measure of very good singing.

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