[Met Performance] CID:98350

United States Premiere, New Production

Madonna Imperia
Le Coq d'Or
Metropolitan Opera House, Wed, February 8, 1928

Debut : Etienne Barone

In French

Madonna Imperia (1)
Franco Alfano | Arturo Rossato
Madonna Imperia
Maria Müller

Filippo Mala
Frederick Jagel

Chancellor Ragusa
Ezio Pinza

Prince of Coíra
James Wolfe

Louis D'Angelo

Charlotte Ryan

Philine Falco

Giordano Paltrinieri

Millo Picco

Angelo Badà

Tullio Serafin

Wilhelm Von Wymetal

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Franco Alfano

Le Coq d'Or (45)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov | Vladimir Belsky need translators?
Nannette Guilford

Marion Talley

Queen (Dance)
Rosina Galli

Ezio Pinza

Dodon (Dance)
Alexis Kosloff

Merle Alcock

Amelfa (Dance)
Rita De Leporte

Rafaelo Díaz

Astrologer (Dance)
Giuseppe Bonfiglio

Louis D'Angelo

Polkan (Dance)
Ottokar Bartik

Giordano Paltrinieri

Gvidon (Dance)
Isador Swee

First Knight
Giordano Paltrinieri

First Knight (Dance)
Etienne Barone [Debut]

Second Knight
Vincenzo Reschiglian

Second Knight (Dance)
Juan Casanova

Giuseppe Bamboschek

Willy Pogany

Michel Fokine

Franco Alfano

Madonna Imperia received six performances this season.
Translation by Calvocoressi
Le Coq d'Or received six performances this season.
In company programs, Rimsky-Korsakov's opera was billed as Le Coq d'Or. Production based on a concept of Michel Fokine which had solo artists and chorus on the sides of the stage while the dancers portrayed the characters in the center.
Photograph of Ezio Pinza as Chancellor Ragusa in Alfano's Madonna Imperia by Herman Mishkin.

Review 1:

Review in the February 16, 1928 issue of Musical Courier

Alfano's 'Madonna Imperia" Given Its Premiere at the Metropolitan

"Madonna Imperia," one of the novelties announced for this season by Mr. Gatti-Casazza, had its first performance at the Metropolitan on Wednesday evening, February 8. The music is by Franco Alfano, perhaps better known to New Yorkers for having finished Puccini's last opera, "Turandot," and also for his "Resurrection" given so successfully by the Chicago Opera with Mary Garden in the principal role. Alfano is unquestionably one of the best of the present day Italian composers, but it cannot be predicted that his latest operatic offspring will make a long life, Although the management spared no pains in making its production a worthy one, furnishing new scenes by Joseph Novak, a capable singing cast and the orchestra in charge of Serafin, who had the preparation for the premiere in hand, the public received the new work but coolly. Perhaps, it was because the music is not especially melodious and there are no arias until almost the end of the first and only act. Then the tenor has a sort of love aria which is the best in the opera, and at that not memorable. The Madonna, too, has one of lesser value and there is a duet for soprano and tenor which does not create the impression of the love climax as fully as it should, In other words Alfano 's music is more or less colorless - drab - if you will.

The libretto by Arturo Rossato is taken from Balzac's highly flavored story in his Contes Drolatiques. Those who read the original will at once realize that Rossato's version is considerably tamer and much of the action and satire is lost. To begin with, Balzac's story deals with prelates who are suitors for the famous courtesan's favor - and Rossato makes them members of nobility and statesmen.

The curtain rises on a fourteenth century interior hall in the home of Madonna Imperia who is expecting the Chancellor of Ragusa, Prince of Coira, and the Count of the Embassy for dinner, Filippo, the little clerk of the Bishop of Bordo, who has forced his way into Imperia's home, catching sight of her graceful outline against the glass pane of her dressing room, where her maids are dressing her, is fired with love of her and determines also to try for her favor. The maids discover the clerk and tease him about his love for Imperia, who upon her appearance is too preoccupied with the final touches of her toilette to notice him. He declares himself and tells Imperia that he has gained permission of the Bishop to see her by means of a story that she had ordered him to write a "triumphal motet." He begs Imperia to accept his meager earnings and accept him, just at the moment the distinguished guests arrive.

During the meal, the Chancellor makes up his mind that he will be the one to stay with Imperia, so he orders his servants to send word to the Count that his suspicious wife is on his trail. The plot works and the only stumbling block is removed, for the Prince usually imbibes so much that he completely "passes out of the picture," But just then the Chancellor catches sight of Filippo and his suspicions are aroused. Imperia, in order to account for the forgotten cleric, says that he is her sister's son and a sort of troubadour. Ragusa asks him to sing thinking it is a ruse, and the boy sings a love song to Imperia, further convincing the Chancellor that he has a rival. After the other guests are gone he accuses the clerk and gives him the option of staying with Imperia and hanging in the morning, or leaving and receiving a present of a rich abbey, The clerk accepts the abbey, The Chancellor calls Imperia from her dressing room, tells her of the clerk's choice, and hopes that she will reconsider her earlier dismissal of him. She bids him adieu until the morrow.

When Imperia is alone, she tells the maids to put out the candles. The cleric returns and Imperia reproaches him for his faithfulness. He makes further protestations of his love for her and Imperia completely enamored leads him to the dressing room. The maid conducts the Bishop into the hall, telling him that her mistress and the Bishop's clerk are chanting the sacred motet. Hearing their cries of love, he mistakes them for cries of sacred joy, and prays heaven to aid the clerk in his holy task. This spot in the opera is, perhaps, the finest bit of satire in the entire work.

Maria Mueller as the Madonna Imperia sang extremely well and acted the part of the courtesan with finesse, making a handsome picture in her shell pink robes, Ezio Pinza as the Chancellor was excellent, His fine voice and manner of singing was highly impressive, James Wolfe, as the tippling Duke, did a clever bit of acting and what singing he had, he did creditably, But vocal honors, it seems to us, went to Frederick Jagel, the clerk, He was in the best of voice and handled the part remarkably well, even if his acting in the love scenes was not too impassioned. Philine Falco and Charlotte Ryan, cast as the maids, revealed voices that were pleasantly fresh. Others in minor parts were Angela Bada, Giordano Paltrinieri, Millo Picco and Louis D'Angelo as the Count of the Embassy. Serafin gave the score a worthy reading and held his orchestra well in hand.

"Madonna Imperia" has arrived, but we doubt whether she will survive more than a single season at the Metropolitan, Time will tell!

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