[Met Performance] CID:98430
Les Contes d'Hoffmann {33} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/14/1928.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 14, 1928


LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN {33}
Jacques Offenbach-Jules Barbier


Hoffmann................Mario Chamlee
Olympia.................Marion Talley
Giulietta...............Leonora Corona
Antonia.................Queena Mario
Lindorf.................James Wolfe
Coppélius...............Adamo Didur
Dappertutto.............Giuseppe De Luca
Dr. Miracle.............Léon Rothier
Nicklausse..............Kathleen Howard
Andrès..................Giordano Paltrinieri
Cochenille..............Giordano Paltrinieri
Pitichinaccio...........Giordano Paltrinieri
Frantz..................Giordano Paltrinieri
Luther..................William Gustafson
Nathanael...............Alfio Tedesco
Hermann.................Arnold Gabor
Spalanzani..............George Meader
Schlemil................George Cehanovsky
Crespel.................Louis D'Angelo
Mother's Voice..........Henriette Wakefield

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

Director................Wilhelm von Wymetal
Set designer............Joseph Urban

Review (unsigned) in the Philadelphia Evening bulletin

'TALES OF HOFFMANN'

Offenbach's Opera Revived by Metropolitan Company at Academy of Music

The many measures of the Students' Chorus, the voluptuous music of the Barcarolle and the many other melodious strains of "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" ("Tales of Hoffmann") were heard again at the Academy of Music last evening, when the favorite work of Jacques Offenbach was presented by the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York with several of its best known singers in the cast, Louis Hasselmans conducting. The popular work had not been heard here in a number of years and the revival is one well calculated to please music lovers who have acceptance for a work which, if not really "grand opera," has a good story, revealed in several picturesque scenes and in varying phases of romantic development, enhanced by a succession of tunes that have ingratiating charm, even if they have not much else.

The Metropolitan Company's production is new and elaborate, with an imposing setting for the ballroom scene in the house of Spalanzani, where the oft-in-love Hoffmann has a brief and rudely shattered passion for Olympia, the mechanical doll, and a notably beautiful visualization of the Venetian scene, in which the gem of the opera, the Barcarolle, is sung. The performance last night was excellent in some respects, but not particularly brilliant as a whole. The male chorus sang well in the prologue, though the ensemble in the scene in front of Giuletta's gorgeous palace on the lagoon in Venice was better. Here the new American soprano, Leonora Corona - a Texas girl - made her appearance as the courtesan. She presented a tall and voluptuous figure, graceful in poise and posture, if seemingly a bit self conscious, and used with ease a voice of pure, good volume and mellow quality, which promises some fine things. Here, Kathleen Howard, as the youth, Nicklausse, faithful companion of the errant Hoffmann, also was at her best vocally, her contralto sounding full and melodious in the Barcarolle, rather in contrast to her use of it in the other scenes, the prevalent recitative, however, giving her little opportunity really to sing. The other feminine members of the cast were Marion Talley and Queena Mario, The former made her first appearance of the season, as Olympia, the doll, and sang the mechanical measures of the coloratura note in mechanical style, though with careful and capable execution of the high staccato passages. She looked very pretty in blue with flowing dark tresses, if less like a doll than some of the daintier blonde prima donnas have done, the motions of the windup maiden of sawdust being well simulated. Miss Mario also appeared but briefly, as the frail Antonia in the last act, and sang herself to death very sweetly.

The Hoffmann was Mario Chamlee, who made a good-looking gallant, even if he did not do much in the way of acting, the part demanding little but love-lorn romanticism. The tenor's voice was very pleasing in the purely lyric parts of the music he had to sing, its sympathetic quality being in evidence. On high, full tones it was less satisfactory. The outstanding impersonations of the performance were those of Adamo Didur, as Coppelius; Giuiseppe De Luca, as Dappertutto, and Leon Rothier, as Dr. Miracle, three roles often - or usually - sung by one man. The Metropolitan Company seems prolific in baritones and basses, however, and expended a whole trio on the performance. Mr. De Luca had poise and dignity and sang the melodious baritone aria in the Venetian scene with artistic effect. Mr. Didur put plenty of acting into his rather original characterization of the crafty Coppelius, owner of the singing doll, and Mr. Rothier also had a striking get-up as the weird and wicked old Dr. Miracle, being strikingly clever in action, both of these roles being well sung. Others in the long cast were George Meader, as Spalanzani, George Cehanovsky, as Schlemil; James Wolfe, as Lindorf; Louis D'Angelo as Crespel, and Henrietta Wakefield as ghostly portrait of the mother of Antonia, who sings from her frame in one of the loveliest melodies of the mellifluous score.



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