[Met Performance] CID:93220
Samson et Dalila {57}
Petrouchka {15}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 04/13/1926.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 13, 1926


SAMSON ET DALILA {57}

Samson..................Giovanni Martinelli
Dalila..................Karin Branzell
High Priest.............Clarence Whitehill
Abimélech...............Paolo Ananian
Old Hebrew..............José Mardones
Philistine..............Giordano Paltrinieri
Philistine..............Vincenzo Reschiglian
Messenger...............Angelo Badà
Dance...................Lilyan Ogden

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


PETROUCHKA {15}

Petrouchka...............Adolph Bolm
Ballerina...............Florence Rudolph
Moor....................Giuseppe Bonfiglio
Charlatan...............Ottokar Bartik
Merchant................Armando Agnini
Street Dancers: Mollie Friedenthal, Rita De Leporte
Gypsies: Lilyan Ogden, Jessie Rogge, Florence Glover

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

Review (unsigned) in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

OPERA SEASON ENDS

Metropolitan Company's Farewell in Double Bill at the Academy

For the nineteenth and closing performance of its season at the Academy of Music last evening, the Metropolitan Opera Company displayed an inclination to be unusually liberal, presenting a double bill, in which Stravinsky's ballet - or "scenes burlesque" - "Petruschka" was added to Saint-Saens' opera "Samson et Dalila," hitherto accepted as quite sufficient in itself as an evening's entertainment. There was marked contrast, of course, between the French composer's setting of the Biblical narrative and the fantastic revelry set to the very modernistic music of the Russian, a fact which the audience, one of the most brilliant of the season, seemed fully to enjoy and greatly to appreciate. Enthusiasm particularly followed the ending of the opera, when the three principals of the cast, Giovanni Martinelli, Karin Branzell and Clarence Whitehill, were given about a dozen curtain calls, each with renewed fervor and with an evident singling out of Mr. Martinelli for approval. The tenor refused to separate himself from the trio, however, though he could not have failed to recognize the special favor with which he was received as an old favorite. But Mme. Branzell, who was the Dalila to Mr. Martinelli's Samson, and Mr. Whitehill, in the character of the High Priest, worthily shared in the applause that reached the point of an ovation.

On the whole, "Samson et Dalila" has had performances here just as good as that of last night, or even better. Nothing can eclipse the memory of the magnificent first presentation in the Hammerstein days at the [Philadelphia] Metropolitan, when Dalmores and Gerville-Reache were the strong man and his temptress, and memory remains of Caruso in the role of Samson. But these recollections, fond as they may be, should not lessen appreciation of the achievements of the present, and there were some fine points in the performance heard last evening.

Mr. Martinelli in all respects is admirably equipped for the part of Samson, In height, suggestion of physical strength and in volume and resonance of voice. He is distinctly a dramatic tenor, and the Saint-Saens' music affords him ample opportunity to use his vigorous tones with telling effect. In make-up, too, with tawny hair and beard, and in his acting, except for a tendency to over-exuberance in one or two scenes, particularly the [first], he was appealing and convincing. The scene at the treadmill was especially effective, the sympathetic quality of Martinelli's voice being most in evidence here, and the attitude of Samson in the temple, under the derision of the crowd and as he mounts to the position between the pillars, and his prayer for temporary strength to bring vengeance upon the revelers in the holy place, also proved notably impressive.

There was special interest, naturally, in the appearance of a new Dalila, particularly in the interpretation of this famous role by Mme. Branzell, who won much admiration recently when she sang the part of Laura in "La Gioconda." The Swedish singer is of statuesque presence, regal in manner and handsome in appearance, and is gifted with plentiful vocal powers. Her voice is a mezzo-soprano, with a true contralto quality in its lower part, but is more notable for its full, rich middle-upper tones, which are of unusual power and beauty. She sings with excellent command, giving expressive utterance and dramatic effect to Dalila's three great arias in the first and second acts, "Printemps qui commence," (Song of Spring), "Amour viens aider." (Love, Lend Me Thy Might), and the favorite "Mon Coeur s'ouvre a ta voix," (My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice) sung just before Dalila lures Samson into her house to his hair-cutting downfall. This scene was splendidly done, Martinelli having a full share in the dramatic climax of the act.

Mr. Whitehill was imposing in appearance and impressive vocally, as the High Priest; José Mardones, with his sonorous basso-profundo, lent distinction to the first act in his portrayal of the Old Hebrew, and Paolo Ananian was the Abimilech. The settings were massive and appropriate, the tableau in the temple at the [beginning] of the third act being noticeably elaborate and beautiful, the ballet in this scene winning several rounds of applause for its graceful and picturesque contribution. Louis Hasselmans was the conductor of the opera.

There was a liberal overflowing of good measure in the additional attraction of "Petruschka,," with its four tableaux, disclosed in settings of genuine "Russian" design and coloring, the work of Serge Soudeikine, and fantastic in costuming, the gorgeous spectacle being heightened in effect by the characteristic Stravinsky music, which, for all its dissonant "modernism" is ingenious, deft and captivating - seeming quite rational in comparison with the Varese "Amerique," so recently played by the Philadelphia Orchestra. "Petruschka" was staged by Adolf Bolm, who appeared in the title role, other solo dancers being Florence Rudolph, as a ballerina; Giuseppe Bonfiglio, as a Moor, and Ottoker Bartik, as an Old Showman. The entire ballet corps and chorus also appeared in the colorful panoramic fantasy, which was skillfully performed under the direction of Tullio Serafin.



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