[Met Performance] CID:99360
Roméo et Juliette {147} Lyric Theater, Baltimore, Maryland: 04/19/1928.


Baltimore, Maryland
April 19, 1928


Roméo...................Beniamino Gigli
Juliette................Lucrezia Bori
Frère Laurent...........Léon Rothier
Stéphano................Editha Fleischer
Mercutio................Lawrence Tibbett
Benvolio................Giordano Paltrinieri
Gertrude................Henriette Wakefield
Capulet.................Pavel Ludikar
Tybalt..................Angelo Badà
Pâris...................Millo Picco
Grégorio................Paolo Ananian
Duke of Verona..........William Gustafson

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

Review of Anne Kinsolving in the Baltimore News

Anne Kinsolving Thrilled by Bori's Juliet

Coming out of the Lyric last night after the Metropolitan Opera Company's performance of "Romeo and Juliet," I heard 459 exclamations - 458 of them were "Bori!" I heartily agree. For thinking back upon the most exquisite performance of opera the "Royal Family" has yet given us this week, it was Lucrezia Bori who took the child Juliet out of the mouth of Shakespeare, away from the suave song of Gounod, and tucked her tenderly into our hearts to star for some little time.


Gounod's opera is a little thing compared to the big things that were done with it last night. It is a great, romantic poem pinched and squeezed to fit some lovely and negligible music. It needs musicians to dispose pleasantly of the music. But, above all, it needs actors to take it by the throat and choke the drama out of it, and bring it back to its original naïve loveliness. Last night there was musicianship, as advertised, and beyond. But last night there was also acting as, begging the Metropolitan's pardon, we did not believe could come out of an opera company.


Bori as Juliet was a child, a very poem of a child, with all the wondrous beauty of the ideal, and all the little humanities of the real. It seems a shame to go into it further, but here are details, endless details of her acting that might be pondered on. In the balcony scene, for instance, I wonder if there was anyone sitting on the right side of the house who wasn't fascinated by the way she disappeared thorough that window. From a vibrant, living being, she gradually made of herself a ghost, a memory, as she melted through that window. And all by the simple device of backing through it and pulling the window in after her - but oh, slowly, slowly, as if she were on runners.


And in the ball scene, the way she made her first appearance, shyly, bashfully, a little frightened by all those strange (?) faces, but still aware she was a Capulet. I may be mistaken, but I don't think there is another diva living who can make a bashful entrance anywhere when she knows the audience has been waiting for the last half hour to see her. And then, if you remember how she drank that potion. She was to marry Paris in half an hour. She already belonged to Romeo. There was only one way out - to drink a weird potion which would practically kill her for two days. Then she could be safe with Romeo.


I have seen many Juliets drink that potion with a happy smile. Bori drank it with a very real terror, a child's terror of the known. And why shouldn't she? Who would be cheerful about taking a mere does of ether, even if she knew she was going to wake up in the arms of Ramon Navarro? Such is Bori. She shames the very name of actress. And more, her voice is cool and delicious and infinitely expressive of all things. Last night she sang us miles away from everything familiar and irksome. Her ovation was extraordinary, I might add.


Gigli as Romeo was a great singer from start to finish, but he certainly made one of the rougher Romeos. During the course of the opera he undertook to commit every dramatic sin, and ended with a great splash by dying in the prompter's box. But his singing forgives him anything.

Tibbett as Mercutio managed to stop the opera for four minutes with a perfectly impossible aria - such is his style. It must have been quite gratifying to him, as he stood waiting for the tumult to cease to show it couldn't be Gounod they were clapping. He really has a lovely voice, this Tibbett, and he is so deliciously long-legged that his stage presence is enchanting.


Fleischer as Stephano was one of the vocal delights of the evening. Whew -what a voice! We earnestly hope she will bring us a longer role next season. Rothier was all that Friar Laurent should be. Dada did some fine singing as Tybalt, and likewise Wakefield as Gertrude. Pavel Ludikar made a charming Capulet. There was quality to his acting. The chorus was smoother in last night's performance than in any. The ballet was slight and colorful. The sets and costumes were, for the first rime, quite thrilling.

But when we hear a performance of such beautiful balance, such finesse, and general magnificence as that we heard last night, we must sooner or later page the conductor, Mr. Hasselmans, we salute you!

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