[Met Performance] CID:97350
Norma {8} Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, Brooklyn: 11/26/1927.

(Review)


New York, Brooklyn
November 26, 1927


NORMA {8}

Norma...................Rosa Ponselle
Pollione................Giacomo Lauri-Volpi
Adalgisa................Elda Vettori
Oroveso.................Léon Rothier
Flavio..................Giordano Paltrinieri
Clotilde................Minnie Egener

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

Review of Howard A. Strickland in the Brooklyn Times

PONSELLE SUPREME IN BELLINI'S 'NORMA'

Brooklyn's Third Opera Proves Big Success for American Singers

Brooklyn last night had cause for much rejoicing. In the first place the third in the series of 12 performances by the Metropolitan Opera Company proved an artistic and financial success, and secondly it was the first time in many moons that General Manager Gatti permitted a revival to be heard at the Academy of Music within ten days after its first performance across the bridge.

Bellini's "Norma," which has slumbered in Mr. Mapleson's files for 36 years pending the arrival of another Lilli Lehmann, was given its Brooklyn premiere last night and proved to be worthy of many more hearings, not only in this borough, but also at 39th Street. Mme. Lehmann, of course, is but a name to your reviewer and to many of the present generation of musical followers, but with all due respect to the past, be it said and said firmly, that no one could have surpassed the sterling work of an American girl, Rosa Ponselle, in the title role as she sang it last night.

"Norma" in about four years will reach its centenary. It was written back in those days when a soprano was a female singer of wide vocal range and equipped for dramatic-lyric and coloratura work. Written in the early Italian idiom, it places a premium of lyricism, but the Druid story of Felice Romani offers frequent opportunities for dramatic vocal work. And a century ago florid singing on the part of all sopranos was looked upon as but one part of an adequate equipment.

Miss Ponselle in this role meets all the requirements of the composer. It requires a sincere artist to express in the voice all those emotions that this Druid priestess underwent as she found herself first the living incarnation of the religious beliefs of her time, then the mother of two children by one of the hated Romans, who quickly found another to take her place. But under all was a lingering love for the man to whom she had committed her own self, and she finally paid the price for permitting humanness to prevail. Expressing this gamut is in itself no easy problem and, when one is obliged to do it vocally, artistry of no minor ability is required.

From the "Casta diva," Miss Ponselle dominated the opera and the result was a personal triumph for this American representative. Singing with style and with a keen sense of appreciation on the role's needs, Miss Ponselle was indeed supreme.

And Mr. Lauri-Volpi, who was making his season's debut here as the Roman pro-consul, was a surprise. That powerful voice was used with a modicum of artistry that he has never before revealed. His Pollione is an interpretation that shows he is now set in the path for better things than his previous bravura outpourings would lead one to believe.

Elda Vettori, St. Louis soprano, who joined the company last season, was a newcomer to Brooklyn in the role of Adalgisa. Without taking an iota of credit from the stirring demonstration of Miss Ponselle, it can truly be said that Miss Vettori's work ranked on a par with her Santuzza, an interpretation of extreme merit and a vocal demonstration of exquisite tonal color. A coming artist is this young soprano.

Leon Rothier was the Oroveso, sometimes throaty but always a dominant figure with Minnie Egener, one the of the children of 36 years ago, as Clothilde. Mr. Paltrinieri was a competent Flavio.

Tullio Serafin paid a long overdue visit as the conductor, directing things with accustomed artistry and sympathy. A large share of the credit for the outstanding performance must be given to this musicianly master of the baton. Not only was the auditorium completely filled, but the number of standees was the largest seen by your reviewer since the Brooklyn opera season started. A cast of merit and an outstanding performance of the season was this third Metropolitan opera.



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