[Met Performance] CID:94100
L'Africaine {45} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 11/9/1926.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 9, 1926
In Italian


L'AFRICAINE {45}
Meyerbeer-Scribe

Sélika..................Rosa Ponselle
Vasco de Gama...........Beniamino Gigli
Inès....................Nannette Guilford
Nélusko.................Giuseppe Danise
Pedro...................Adamo Didur
Diégo...................Paolo Ananian
Alvar...................Angelo Badà
Grand Inquisitor........Léon Rothier
High Priest.............Léon Rothier
Anna....................Henriette Wakefield
Usher...................Vincenzo Reschiglian
Officer.................Max Altglass

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

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Gretel Urban
Choreographer...........August Berger

L'Africaine received five performances this season.

Review (unsigned) in the Philadelphia Ledger

'L'AFRICANA' SUNG BY METROPOLITAN

Meyerbeer's Exotic Opera Received Brilliant but Somewhat Uneven Rendition

That curious hodgepodge of operatic styles and yet with an individuality all its own, Meyerbeer's "L'Africana" went through a brilliant, altogether somewhat uneven, performance at the Academy of Music last night by the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York. Pure Italian, based upon Rossini in its vocal writing, strongly influenced by the early Wagnerian operas in its orchestration and with a mise-en-scene and general atmosphere peculiar to the Paris Opera of the fifties and sixties, "L'Africana" even today occupies a unique position in the operatic repertoire.

It is musically outmoded by half a century at the present time, and yet it has a kind of exotic fragrance of its own, being the most musical of Meyerbeer's operas and, despite many conventional places, is generally freer from this blemish than any of his other operas. However, it has throughout his fatal weakness of beginning with a superb idea and suddenly dropping into mediocrity of banal conventionality.

But it is a magnificent vehicle for the display of the talents of a Gigli and a Ponselle, added to which is the fact that it offers the best opportunity imaginable for superb staging of a spectacular work in which the Metropolitan is supreme, and the appearance of perhaps the best ballet in the world in a series of figures which for beauty of elaboration have few equals in the operatic field. These are, perhaps, the reasons why it remains consistently in the repertoire of the Metropolitan Opera Company. And to the great audience, delayed by the storm, but which finally filled the Academy last evening, they seemed to be sufficient.

Gigli was in magnificent voice and sang the role of Vasco di Gama superbly. Mme. Ponselle gave a splendid portrayal of the Indian Princess, registering rebellious submission in the first act and regality galore in the subsequent ones. The ballet was one of the best that even the Metropolitan has ever put on in this city. Maestro Serafin conducted with his usual spirit and skill, although the ensemble was not nearly as good as at last week's performance.



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