[Met Performance] CID:99150
Faust {368} Metropolitan Opera House: 04/4/1928.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
April 4, 1928


FAUST {368}

Faust...................Mario Chamlee
Marguerite..............Queena Mario
Méphistophélès..........Fyodor Chaliapin
Valentin................Giuseppe De Luca
Siebel..................Ellen Dalossy
Marthe..................Kathleen Howard
Wagner..................Paolo Ananian

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

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

Chaliapin as Mephistopheles

Chamlee and Queena Mario Sing Roles in Gounod's 'Faust' at the Metropolitan

The season at the Metropolitan Opera House is rapidly nearing its termination. When it has ended there will be the customary summary of performances with the record of the number of times each work has been given. Whether the opera going public is interested in this or not can only be conjectured. But doubtless a comparison of several successive seasons would furnish food for reflection. In this season about to fade away there have been some performances of Gounod's "Faust" and these have moved some observers to wonder how much actual life there is in the once most popular of operas in this town.

The work was presented last evening and there could have been no question in any mind that the public mind was centered not upon the opera but upon the Mephistopheles of Feodor Chaliapin. Comment has been made in this place before now on the peculiar impersonation of the gentlemanlike devil of Barbiere and Carre. It is before all things else original, but originality is not in itself a virtue. The celebrated Russian bass has made himself a Mephistopheles in his own image, but it is not the Mephistopheles of the French stage. Neither is it a better one. It is merely different and in many respects worse.

But it is a towering figure, especially among such a gathering of shorter common mortals as comprised the cast of last evening. In front of all the others this tempter of Chaliapin stood forth like a high relief. It mattered not what he did or how he did it, he had the audience following the magnet of his powerful personality projected with merciless directness into the very eye of every auditor. And yet there were some grounds for thought.

This Mephistopheles seemed to sing dubiously and not without timidity. His knees were wanting in confidence and he walked as if very weary of his age old task of going about the earth seeking to devour somebody. The gallant and swashbuckling figure of former days had given way to a careful and sometimes hesitating conservative. And, as for the music, the conductor was frequently puzzled to know what the singer was to do next.

Mr. Chamlee sang Faust creditably and in spots more than that, but his was not a distinguished performance. Mr. de Luca was the Valentine and he seemed tired of voice, but his art and good taste were with him. Queena Mario was a diminutive and gentle voiced Marguerite who was plainly cut out to be the victim of any designing stranger putting up at the village inn. Miss Dalossy as Siebel was doomed to certain failure in the self-appointed task of protecting this bland heroine. Mephistopheles wasted too much time and effort on the temptation. The conductor was Mr. Hasselmans, who worked hard and accomplished the seemingly impossible at times, particularly when he caught up with the wandering devil of the evening. The audience packed the house, but was not very demonstrative.



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