[Met Performance] CID:95760
New production
Mignon {31} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/10/1927.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 10, 1927
New production


MIGNON {31}
Am. Thomas-Carré/Barbier

Mignon..................Lucrezia Bori
Wilhelm Meister.........Beniamino Gigli
Philine.................Marion Talley
Lothario................Clarence Whitehill
Frédéric................Ellen Dalossy
Laërte..................Angelo Badà
Jarno...................Paolo Ananian
Antonio.................Louis D'Angelo
Dance...................Ruth Page

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

Director................Wilhelm von Wymetal
Designer................Serge Soudeikine
Choreographer...........August Berger

Mignon received seven performances this season.

Review of W. J. Henderson in the New York Sun

Metropolitan Revives 'Mignon'

Ambroise Thomas Work Presented With Bori, Gigli and Talley in the Cast

General Manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza of the Metropolitan Opera House raised another opera from the dead last night. This time it was the "Mignon" of Ambroise Thomas. The work had rested peacefully since the Society of American Singers produced it at the Park Theater of September 28, 1918 with Maggie Teyte in the name part, Ruth Miller as Filena, John Hand as Wilhelm Meister and Henry Scott as Lothario.

Mr. Hammerstein had once tried its spell and perhaps there was something of a subtle irony of fate in the fact that the last time the work was done at the Metropolitan previous to last evening was the night on which the Manhattan Opera House (paid to cease troubling) closed its doors. That was March 18, 1908, when Geraldine Farrar sang Mignon, charming Bessie Abbott, Filena; Josephine Jacoby, Fredric; Alessandro Bonci, Wilhelm Meister; and Pol Plançon, Lothario.

To the generation of operagoers which has acquired possession of the Metropolitan stalls since the war, the work is a novelty, but there will be no laborious bending of intellects to grasp its artistic quality. It is just another near Goethe opera created out of an earnest desire to rival the success of "Faust." Even Frederic, who was originally a buffo tenor has been a masquerading contralto ever since Trebelli, with her female bass low register, first sang the part in London (and later here) and thus we get even a curious replica of Siebel. Not too much of Goethe is left in the story. Barbiere and Carre, who made the book of "Faust," also made this and handled the original with their noted liberality and with theatrically useful results.

Gounod filled "Faust" with airs and other number destined to become popular. When Barbiere and Carre tried to repeat for him with "Romeo et Juliette," he was less successful, but nevertheless turned out an opera which has deservedly held the stage. Thomas managed to evoke from the dim chambers of his imagination two popular numbers. One is Mignon's air "Connais tu le pays" which unfortunately had to be placed in the first act, and the other the polacca, "Je suis Titania," which the gay and dashing Filena sings in the second. But it is a melodious opera - and its music is all of that simple type which appeals as strongly to the human whistle. Moreover the story, after three efforts to build an acceptable ending, is distinctly of the movie sort. It is sentimental, melodramatic, rich in tableaux, and more or less busy action, such as the old man's dread of arson, and Wilhelm's impulsive purchase of a girl who apparently has not greatly interested him. And it has a happy movie ending. The original Mignon went insane and died from unrequited love. But so it goes. It has a certain naive bleakness and people pass to and fro singing pretty tunes and wearing more memorable costumes from the Metropolitan's inexhaustible storehouse.

About the performance it is not imperative that columns be filled. It had the charms of scenic attire and costume which are never wanting at the Metropolitan. It was on the whole pleasingly sung and acceptably acted, but there was no element of special distinction. Miss Bori was entirely lovely and winning as Mignon and sang her "Connais tu le pays" with much beauty of tone and simulation of emotion. Indeed, she sang her entire role well. She gave only indications of the depths of the mystic and pathetic character. There have been more tragic Mignons, but their presentation might be questioned. This is not the Mignon of Goethe, but of Barbiere and Carre, operetta book craftsmen. They also constructed a Marguerite who is but a thin shadow of Goethe's Gretchen.

Miss Talley made a commendable attempt at Filena, but the comedy of such a role as well as the Gallic sparkle and piquancy of its music were far beyond the vision of such a calm nature and the small resources of such a young and theatrically untalented singer. For one thing, Miss Talley showed not even a suspicion of the style of the recitative which fell from her lips cold and flat and insignificant. She was heartily applauded, of course, for the polonaise, but her singing of it was amateurish and very faulty in tone and technic.

Mr. Gigli was vocally admirable as Wilhelm and went through the motions of the part with understanding, if not with enthusiasm. He received more applause and certainly worked honestly for it. Mr. Whitehill was a competent Lothario and Mr. Bada was a thoroughly competent Laerte. Miss Dalossy was pert and animated as Frederic. Mr. Ananian discharged the duties of Jarno. The chorus was equal to the tasks. The ballet was dull and stupid. Mr. Hasselmans conducted.



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