[Met Performance] CID:94140
La Juive {43} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/12/1926.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 12, 1926


LA JUIVE {43}
F. Halévy-Scribe

Rachel..................Rosa Ponselle
Eléazar.................Giovanni Martinelli
Princess Eudoxie........Queena Mario, Act I
Princess Eudoxie........Charlotte Ryan, Acts II-V
Prince Léopold..........Alfio Tedesco
Cardinal de Brogni......Léon Rothier
Ruggiero................Millo Picco
Albert..................Louis D'Angelo
Herald..................Paolo Ananian
Major-domo..............James Wolfe
Dance...................Mollie Friedenthal
Dance...................Rita De Leporte
Dance...................Giuseppe Bonfiglio

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

Director................Samuel Thewman
Set designer............Joseph Urban
Costume designer........Mathilde Castel-Bert
Choreographer...........Rosina Galli

[Queena Mario cancelled during Act I and was replaced as Princess Eudoxie by Carlotte Ryan.]

La Juive received five performances this season.

Review of Samuel Chotzinoff in the World

AT THE METROPOLITAN

The Jewess

It seems odd that no first rate composer ever tacked an opera on the subject of Jewish oppression, especially during the middle ages. The field is wide enough, in point of time, to take in the nineteenth century in Russia, which offered endless opportunities for librettists and composers. But the dark ages up to the Renaissance would be even better for operatic purposes and would give the scenic artist and costumers a wider field. In fact, just such a book exists and by no less a librettist than Shakespeare. The "Merchant of Venice" has been available for some time, and its avoidance by composers from Handel down to Strauss is one of the enigmas of music.

That such a subject could be made operatically effective was proved by Halevy's "La Juive," which has held the stage for nearly a century. Halevy, whose name was really Levy, had gained many prizes as a student at the Paris Conservatoire. But when he began writing operas his talents met little response until he conceived the idea, ignored by so many more gifted musicians, of utilizing a dramatic episode in the history of this victimtude of his race. The story that Scribe fashioned for him was as second-rate and undistinguished as his own creative abilities, but it was bound to get over through the pity and terror inherent in any treatment of the subject. Incidentally, it carried the music along with it. It does not matter whether Eleazar, the Shylock of "La Juive" chants old Hebrew tunes while presiding over the Passover Feast, or only sentimental orientalized French salon music.

The punch is there, unmistakably. The figure of the old Jew in his religious robes surrounded by his family and kinsmen, celebrating secretly the immemorial ritual is something that is sure fire even without the aid of music. Unfortunately for probability the old Jew's daughter, Rachel, turns out to be not his daughter at all, but the child of his Christian oppressor. But in opera the fact that a devout Jew of the medieval ages would conceivably take a Christian child to his bosom and bring her up as his daughter is not even noticed, nor is there anything incongruous about the same pious Jew's interrupting the Passover Feast to do a little business on the side.

The music of "La Juive" resembles the libretto in the main, but it does violence to musical plausibility. There are sincere moments, as in the trio toward the end of the second act, and Eleazar's celebrated aria. But right on top of something deeply felt you are assaulted by wretched inanities and tinkly splendors, reminding you that Halevy wrote for Parisians in 1835, when operatic standards were about as low as they have ever been. Only a few years later the melancholy of Halevy began to pall and there was a switch en masse to the more brilliant inanities of Meyerbeer. But there was no getting away from the grip of "La Juive."

The performance last night enlisted the services of Ponselle, Martinelli, Rothier, Queena Mario, and Alfio Tedesco in the principal roles. The latter was making his debut as Leopold, the bad Christian, who wishes to leave his spouse for the charms of the supposed Jewess. Mr. Tedesco has a tenor voice of the "White" variety, the quality of which cannot be said to be at all impressive.

Because of an inflamed condition of her throat, Miss Mario manifestly labored under a strain, and at the conclusion of the second act her voice broke down completely. She was replaced by Charlotte Ryan who, hastily summoned by telephone, donned Miss Mario's costume and continued in her role to the last curtain. Martinelli, as Eleazar, was effective as usual and Miss Ponselle expended her lovely voice lavishly. Louis Hasselmans conducted.



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