[Met Performance] CID:93390
La Gioconda {88} Public Auditiorium, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/28/1926.


Cleveland, Ohio
April 28, 1926


La Gioconda.............Rosa Ponselle
Enzo....................Giacomo Lauri-Volpi
Laura...................Marion Telva
Barnaba.................Giuseppe Danise
Alvise..................Josť Mardones
La Cieca................Merle Alcock
Zuŗne...................Vincenzo Reschiglian
IsŤpo...................Max Altglass
Monk....................Louis D'Angelo
Steersman...............Arnold Gabor
Singer..................Vincenzo Reschiglian

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

Review of William G. Smith in the Cleveland Press


"La Gioconda" Holds Audience Enraptured; Lauri-Volpi Endows Part With Realism.

Ponchielli's intriguing opera "La Gioconda," held the stage of Public Hall and an audience of something over 6,000 in thrall Wednesday night. And the latter instance is easily accounted for since it was another operatic disclosure that only the significant word superb can qualify. From present indications the season is being conducted on a cumuistive plan, a sort of piling Pellon on Ossa - visa versa. The artists seem to vie with each other to give us the best that is in their ability, and to the reviewer they are succeeding in a marvelous degree. If grand opera ever has been presented with more perfect artistry I have no recollection of having witnessed or heard it.

Candidly, I doubt if New York with its metropolitan housing has had anything finer. "La Gioconda" is rich with fluent melodies that seem to flow from the pen and brain of the composer like water gushing from a geyser. Little wonder that the singers were incited to give them adequate and seeming inspirational expression.

Traditional Lines

While semi-modern in the orchestral treatment, it follows traditional lines in that it consists of recitative, arias, duets, and ensembles. The voice is not used as an integral part of the orchestra, to be heard on occasion as the accompanying instruments permit, but as a dominant and to-be-heard part of the operatic scheme. Emotional ardor is heightened by suggestive themes intensified by dynamic - not cacophonous - climaxes. And their meaning cannot be misconstrued and misunderstood. Briefly stated, "La Gioconda" is what opera-goers like to hear - melody in its legitimate and best estate. With such a cast as interpreted it Wednesday night one is at a loss for superlatives to adequately do it justice.

However, we will specify some of the high spots of its luminosity. Under the virtuoso direction of Serafin the chorus was splendidly effective, a fact that the audience recognized with liberal applause of its every appearance. It sung with unity and spirit, and was by no means the least important feature of the opera.

Dance of the Hours

The "Dance of the Hours" was of such kaleidoscopic beauty in its variegated coloration and had such graceful posturing and evolution that the audience demanded its repetition, but without avail. And now to the cast, which was a memorable one.

Ponselle, as was to be anticipated, was in glorious voice and gave to her tragic role a superb portrayal. The height of tragic utterance was realized in her singing in the final act. If anguish and despair can be depicted vocally, certainly she accomplished it. Telva, too, asserted her artistic claims in the role of Laura, of which she gave a fine vocal exposition. Lauri-Volpi, as Enzo, was in exceptionally fine voice and gave to the part a convincing realism. His "mezza voce" singing of his aria in the second act was magnificently artistic. For a tenor of such robust and dramatic character it was an achievement of super-artistry. The audience was not slow to recognize the fact, and delayed the action of the opera thru insistent demands for a repetition, which, however, were not complied with, much to their disappointment.

Superlative Duets

The duets of Telva and Volpi, and Ponselle and Telva, were superlatively sung, and aroused the audience to clamorous approbation. Danise, as the scheming Barnaba, acted and sung the role in splendid style. His rich and mellow baritone was never heard to such artistic advantage in this locality. Mardones, with his resonant and voluminous bass, gave to his role an exceptionally fine exposition. His voice has quality as well as sonority, and he is one of the very few basses who can realize richness of quality and power of utterance without distracting from the vocal effect by indulging in the vibrato - a sign of vocal decay or faulty breath control. Miss Alcock, as the blind mother, gives to the part a fine impersonation. Her voice, one of sympathetic qualities, was used with artistic discrimination.

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