[Met Tour] CID:98140

American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, January 24, 1928

Debut : Wilfred Pelletier

Carmen (301)
Georges Bizet | Henri Meilhac/Ludovic Halévy
Maria Jeritza

Don José
Giovanni Martinelli

Queena Mario

Mario Basiola

Charlotte Ryan

Merle Alcock

Angelo Badà

Millo Picco

Louis D'Angelo

George Cehanovsky

Wilfred Pelletier [Debut]

Review 1:

Review of Samuel L. Laciar in the Philadelphia Public Ledger

Jeritza Sings 'Carmen' Here

Martinelli and "Marble" Wall knocked Flat by Overvigorous Cigarette Girl

What was undoubtedly the most amazing Carmen ever seen in Philadelphia was enacted last evening at the Academy of Music by Mme. Jeritza of the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York, when that distinguished operatic organization paid its weekly visit to this city.

Mme. Jeritza's conception of the role is unique in that, while she interprets Carmen as a termagant of the ninth power and a Sevillian gold-digger of rare abilities, there is little real passion depicted, Carmen, to Mme. Jeritza, is in the apotheosis of bad temper without the redeeming qualities which the libretto clearly suggests.

A considerable portion of the performance on the part of the heroine consisted in throwing things around the stage, a procedure in which prominent members of the cast were included. One incident of the kind propelled Mr. Martinelli against what was presumably a marble wall with sufficient force to precipitate both into the dust.

The ever-useful chorus, however, had the presence of mind to gather quickly around the wreckage, so that most of the audience did not see the entire incident, which had its mild reactions, however, when the two principals took many curtain calls at the end of the act.

Sings With Cigarette

Mme. Jeritza is one of the greatest singing actresses, but Carmen most decidedly is not her role. She is by no means the type of a Spanish cigarette girl and her delineation of the character was certainly unhindered by tradition. Tradition any operatic singer has the right to ignore, but in departing "so" radically from the accepted models that singer must convince that the new reading of the role has excellences that equal those discarded. This Mme. Jeritza failed to do last evening. She tried many innovations. One, that of attempting to sing the "Habanera" with cigarette in her mouth, was a flat failure; the "Habanera" is hard enough to sing without such handicap.

In her delineation of the role Mme. Jeritza apparently paid little attention to the vocal part, concentrating on the dramatic end, which she succeeded in making extremely interesting, at least to the extent of causing the audience constantly to wonder what she was going to do next - and invariably she did it. But the audience received her with joy throughout the entire performance, even though at times it seemed to be a bit dazed, as it had a right to be. Even the most inveterate opera-goers remained to the end to see what Carmen would do in the last act and they were amply rewarded.

Mr. Martinelli in the role of Don José, sang superbly as he always does, although at times he seemed to be a bit confused by the violent interpretation of Mme. Jeritza. The "Flower Song" of the second act was the high point of the performance from the viewpoint of real singing, but all though the opera Mr. Martinelli seemed to make valiant efforts to revert to the traditional "Carmen," but without conspicuous success from the dramatic standpoint.

Queena Mario, for some reason, stopped the show with the beautiful aria of Micaela in the third act, although Mme. Mario's voice is by no means the ideal one for this role, which requires a flute-like tone, whereas hers is distinctly oboe-like in quality. She made a splendid Micaela in stage appearance and acted with all the ability which the rather colorless role permits.

Basiola is Toreador

Mario Basiola was moderately good as the Toreador. In the great "Toreador Song," written so that no voice which ever existed can sing it effectively because of the range and the power required. He was excellent in the upper register, but too weak in the low tones.

The remainder of the cast was competent; Charlotte Ryan as Frasquita, Merle Alcock as Mercedes, Angelo Bada as Remendado, Millo Picco as Dancairo, although these four, with Madame Jeritza, did not do the great quintet any too well from the rhythmic standpoint as well as that of enunciation. Louis D'Angelo was a good Zuniga and George Cehanovsky, a good Morales.

The staging of the opera was one of the finest, even for the Metropolitan, ever given in this city, and the costumes were superb and in splendid character. The chorus was very large and efficient, and the ballet was exceedingly fine, especially in its appearance in the last act. The opera was conducted by Wilfred Pelletier, who assumed the baton at the last moment, Mr. Hasselmans being taken suddenly ill. Mr. Pelletier is one of the conductors of French opera of the company and he scored a great popular success, being called to the stage alone three times at the close of the third act.

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