[Met Performance] CID:99480
Aida {333} Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio: 04/30/1928.

(Review)


Cleveland, Ohio
April 30, 1928


AIDA {333}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Rosa Ponselle
Radamès.................Giovanni Martinelli
Amneris.................Julia Claussen
Amonasro................Lawrence Tibbett
Ramfis..................Ezio Pinza
King....................Louis D'Angelo
Messenger...............Alfio Tedesco
Priestess...............Charlotte Ryan
Dance...................Rita De Leporte

Conductor...............Vincenzo Bellezza

Review of James H. Rodgers in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

AIDA'S OLD MAGIC TRIUMPHS AGAIN

Metropolitan Artists Score Ovation in Brilliant First Night

The glittering pageantry of the Metropolitan production of Verdi's "Aida" was once more revealed yesterday evening in Public Hall before a vast and fervently responsive audience that apparently filled the great auditorium to the last seat. On that side of the footlights there was a pageant, too, concerning which a more competent pen will inform you. As for the eye-filling spectacle upon the stage, it really seems that gorgeousness and completeness of paraphernalia, costumes and scenic pictures can go no further. All the familiar, shop worn superlatives leap to the mind in attempting to convey some idea of the wealth of colorful and grandiose investiture.

And so, although "Aida" is a rather oft-told tale, it wrought its spell anew. Yet, after all, only incidentally, because of the richness of its setting. For in opera the music's the thing. And it was a wonderful cast that presented the fable of the Ethiopian maid who loved the stalwart soldier of Egypt. The cast was made up of singers who have caused the far-flung reaches of Public Hall to rock with plaudits on more than one occasion. And so it was again last night. Rosa Ponselle was the Aida, Giovanni Martinelli the Rhadames, Julia Claussen the Amneris and Lawrence Tibbett the Amonasro, A great foursome, And please note that it was 50-50 native American.

Miss Ponselle is an incomparable Aida. That I venture to assert in all literalness. Of course, I have heard only an infinitesimal number of the sopranos who have impersonated the dusky princess since the grand old man of Italian opera delivered his score to his august patron, the khedive of Egypt. But by no flight of fancy can I imagine anybody else doing the part with so many-sided a perfection.

Miss Ponselle was in fine voice. As I think of it, I have never heard her sing when she was not. I don't know how she manages it. And this voice has both unsurpassed beauty and power plus; the latter always employed with due discretion. For the singer's vocal equipment is matched with a supple and finished art. Her triumphs began with her great air of the first act.

Martinelli Applauded.

And in like manner, so did Mr. Martinelli's s, whose apostrophe to the "Heavenly Aida," sung, as you know, almost immediately after the rise of the first curtain, called forth a long continued salvo of resounding applause. A tenor of heroic mold; in mien and action, as in voice, an ideal Rhadames. And those clarion-high tones have all the old ring in them. Miss Claussen's full-throated contralto was heard to telling advantage and she put a lot of dramatic fire into the impersonation of her role. A versatile singing-actor, this young Mr. Tibbett; moreover, a master in the art of make-up. Last night he was a quite convincing equatorial African, although if you had seen him in "Falstaff" or "The Jester's Supper" you would not have thought it possible. His singing was of its usual admiral quality.

But the vocalists named did not monopolize the honors of the evening. There was Ezio Pinza, who, as the high priest Ramfis, towered, physically, high above, the other ministrants in the temple scene, and disclosed one of the noblest bass voices to be heard today on any stage. Louis D'Angelo was a properly majestic king, and sang well, Alfio Tedesco was competent as the messenger, and one of the talented American recruits to the Metropolitan, Charlotte Ryan, was the priestess.

Ponselle Magnificent.

Vincenzo Bellezza conducted in alert and authoritative fashion and built up an overpowering climax - Rosa Ponselle''s voice sounding clear and penetrating above the tumult - in the magnificent scene that closes the second act, There was a ballet in this scene that pleased the audience, the solo dancer coming in for a hearty burst of applause.

The orchestra was numerous, and, needless to say, since it is a part of the Metropolitan forces, well skilled. An outstanding feature was the chorus singing. It was absolutely enchanting in the temple scene. There is no more beautiful ensemble singinig to be heard anywhere. Neither the Russians - any of them - nor the St. Olaf choristers can transcend it, marvelous as they are. This whole temple scene, stage picture and all was of breathtaking loveliness. Maestro Giulio Setti is the chorus master of the Metropolitan. Let his name be mentioned. For though he was invisible to the listeners, he contributed in no small degree to their pleasure. And so our spring opera season opened with what may temperately be called a. sensational success.

Tibbett Only Newcomer.

Was it a bigger and better "Aida" than ever before? Hard to say, for the cast, with the single exception of Mr. Tibbett, was the same that we have heard, if I mistake not, on several occasions. Yet there were many who thought that the performance was unique or something like that And it is easy to believe that even the consummate artists we heard last night do not always scale the heights with such enormous elan For they sang with an ardor that made it seem that they were as stirred with enthusiasm as were their hearers. Which is saying a good deal. For it was an excited throng that showered them with applause.



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