[Met Performance] CID:9650
Carmen {15} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/20/1891.

(Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 20, 1891
In German


CARMEN {15}
Bizet-Meilhac/L. Halévy

Carmen..................Minnie Hauk
Don José................Andreas Dippel
Micaela.................Marie Jahn
Escamillo...............Theodore Reichmann
Frasquita...............Olga Islar
Mercédès................Hannah Rothe
Remendado...............Adolph Von Hübbenet
Dancaïre................Edmund Müller
Zuniga..................Conrad Behrens
Moralès.................Bruno Lurgenstein
Dance...................Martha Irmler
Dance...................Miss Leontine
Dance...................Miss Polednik

Conductor...............Walter Damrosch

Director................Theodore Habelmann
Set Designer............Charles Fox, Jr.
Set Designer............William Schaeffer
Set Designer............Gaspar Maeder
Set Designer............Mr. Thompson
Costume Designer........D. Ascoli
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian

Translation by unknown

Carmen received three performances this season.


Review: On 2/22/1891, The New York Times offered this background on the performance:

DISCORD AT THE OPERA HOUSE.

It transpired yesterday that there had been a slight ruffling of the operatic sea of difficulties previous to the performance of 'Carmen' on Friday evening. The general rehearsal of the work was set down for Thursday, and on Wednesday evening Mme. Minnie Hauk sent word that she would not attend that important function. Walter Damrosch, who was to conduct the performance, and who had had one piano rehearsal with the prima donna, at once declared that unless Mme. Hauk appeared at the rehearsal he could not conduct the performance. To meet this trouble Mr. Stanton at once requested Frau Ritter-Götze, who is said to be a fine Carmen, to hold herself in readiness to sing the role.

This appears to have had a curative effect on Mme. Hauk, who promptly appeared at the rehearsal. But she refused to sing loud enough to be heard by the conductor or the orchestra, stating that she was not well. Mr. Damrosch vowed that it was impossible to accomplish anything unless she would sing out, but she persisted in refusing to do so. The conductor laid down his baton, refused to direct the opera, and left his place.

Mr. Stanton was summoned and besought Mr. Damrosch to go on with the rehearsal. All the seats in the house had been sold, and opera had to be given. Mme. Hauk was prevailed upon to sing above a whisper, and the rehearsal was concluded under generally unsatisfactory conditions. The results were seen in the rough performance given on Friday evening.

Unsigned review in The New York Times

METROPOLITAN OPERA. HOUSE.

The revival of Bizet's beautiful work, "Carmen," at the Opera House last night was undoubtedly very welcome to the public. The house was crowded, and, in spite of the fact that the performance was far from being an ideal one, the applause was most enthusiastic. This was undoubtedly a tribute to the genius of Bizet, whose lovely opera ought to remain among the most popular works of the lyric stage as long as music voice is dear to the world. "Carmen" is a master work. It has not a dull moment. It is an ocean of musical thought. whose surface glitters with the sunlit ripples of piquant melody and rhythm, whose translucent depths are filled with the rich shadows of human passion. Age does not wither nor custom stale its infinite variety. It throbs with vitality. It stirs and elevates every thoughtful hearer.

It is a pity that praise of the opera cannot be extended to last evening's performance, but if the cold truth must be told - and there seems to be no reason for burying it - the presentation of the work was sadly imperfect. It is no pleasure to say that many of the weaknesses of the performance were due to the conductor's evident unfamiliarity with the score. There were some notable differences of opinion between Mr. Damrosch and the principals as to tempi. There were also differences of opinion as to pitch, which could not be attributed to any shortcoming of the conductor. The duet of the second act between Carmen and Don José was filled with unpleasantness of both sorts.

Minnie Hauk's Carmen is dramatically much the same as it was in the brave days of old, in the consulship of Mapleson. There are, perhaps, less airy buoyancy and less physical elasticity, but the interpretation is in the same general mood, which is sympathetic and interesting. But vocally it is not the Carmen of old times. The voice, which never was a great one, has lost something of its timbre and a good deal of its flexibility. It responds rather slowly to the singer's demands upon it, and the tardiness is rendered more notable by the undulatory character of Bizet's delirious Spanish rhythms.

Herr Dippel's Don José was the weakest which the present writer has ever encountered. It suffered by comparison with even that of Herr Montegriflo, who recently sang the rôle in Harlem. Dippel's singing was throaty and his phrasing rough and inartistic. He tried hard to act the part, but his histrionic ability is painfully small. Herr Reichmann's Escamillo was big and burly of aspect, but vocally it was a very spasmodic piece of work. It would be difficult for any one with as good a voice as Reichmann's to make such sorry work of the popular toreador song, for which he received abundant plaudits.

A very meek and gentle Micaela was Fräiulein Jahn. She sang the music tentatively and seemed to he filled with misgivings as to the use of her hands. The small rôles of Frasquita and Mercedes were well treated by Fräulein Islar and Fräulein Rothe, but Morales, Dancairo, and Remendado were effectively butchered by Lurgenstein, Muller, and Hubbenet. Zumiga was in the hands of Behrens, who looked excessively uncomfortable in his uniform, and was equally uncomfortable in the music.

The chorus struggled bravely with its duties and at times was good, At other and more numerous times it was not. The mounting of the opera was sufficiently picturesque, the stage picture of the second act being particularly pretty and animated. It is to be hoped that the second performance of the opera will he smoother. There is abundant room for improvement.



Review of Henry Krehbiel in the New York Tribune

Mme. Hauk's Carmen has not changed in essence since it was seen last on the local stage. It is still an impersonation of marked and fascinating individuality from a histrionic point of view. Vocally it is not so fresh and charming as it used to be, though it breathes the old spirit. Her freakishness of tempo, for the greater part justified by the character of much of the music, acted disturbingly on the general effect of the performance last night, but the fault was not hers nor entirely that of the conductor, Mr. Damrosch. The German company is elastic and spontaneous in musical expression only when works characteristically German are performed. This lesson has been enforced at the Metropolitan ever since German opera took its habitation there. Of the singers in the cast outside of Mme. Hauk it must be said that least was done where most was expected-as in the case of Herr Reichmann, for instance, who gave us a Rhine wine Escamillo instead of one with the effervescence of champagne. Herr Dippel put some good singing to his credit as Don José, but its deep tragic element he did not touch. Fraulein Jahn was sweet and sympathetic as Micaela and shares what honors there were to share with Mme. Hauk. As for the others, they do not call for comment. The opera was well dressed



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