[Met Tour] CID:100870

American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, January 1, 1929

Manon (77)
Jules Massenet | Henri Meilhac/Philippe Gille
Lucrezia Bori

Des Grieux
Beniamino Gigli

Giuseppe De Luca

Count des Grieux
Léon Rothier

Angelo Badà

George Cehanovsky

Louise Lerch

Mildred Parisette

Dorothea Flexer

Paolo Ananian

Arnold Gabor

Marek Windheim

Gina Gola

Louis Hasselmans

Review 1:

Review of Linton Martin in the Philadelphia Inquirer


Metropolitan Opera Company Gives Superb Performance at Academy

Gigli's Singing, Conducting of Hasselmans and Urban Scenery Also Score

Beauty and brilliance went hand in hand when Massenet's "Manon" was presented by the Metropolitan Opera Company in the Academy last night. It was a performance superbly sung, admirable acted, sympathetically staged.

From time to time the charge was made that the Metropolitan management slights the French wing of the repertoire. The general justice or injustice of that accusation is not now under discussion. What does matter, and what may be emphasized in unqualified terms, is that a more glowing and sensitively sympathetic and handsomely mounted presentation of the French opera has not been given here within memory, and in the opinion of some enthusiasts the Opera Comique in Paris could not compete with it.

The flair and finish of the performance were due chiefly to three factors. First and foremost, of course, was the Manon of Lucrezia Bori, a Manon of such charm and pathos, sprightliness and simplicity, that it was infused with freshness of effect every moment she was on the stage. And Miss Bori's characterization was matched by the felicity of her singing, her voice registering every shade of meaning required by the graceful music, as well as being ideally suited to its style. Perhaps the impression she made was emphasized in contrast to the inept and inadequate performance of Hope Hampton when she unfortunately attempted the same role on the same stage just a week and a half previously.

At any rate Miss Bori not only made Manon a thoroughly believable human being, dramatically revealing her capricious impulses, tenderness and inherent fickleness with the comprehension and eloquence of expression, but she developed details with delightful spontaneity, and both feeling and finish marked every phrase of her singing. Massenet's music benefited by qualities of interpretive genius through her, and her appearance was always ingratiating.

The two other elements of outstanding interest were the Des Grieux of Beniamino Gigli and the conducting of Louis Hasselmans. Scenery is not, of course, strictly speaking an active part of a performance. But the charming sets provided by Josef Urban, especially for the first and third acts, contributed so much pictorially in the freshness and flavor of the offering that they must be given credit for the prominent part they played.

Mr. Gigli sang with polished grace and golden lyric beauty and his acting marked a refreshing departure from the perfunctoriness in his depth and dignity. Mr. Hasselmans conducted with full appreciation of the suavity of the score and the proper pulse of the opera. The role of Count Des Grieux was made memorable by Leon Rothier, and Angelo Bada as Guillot and Giuseppe de Luca as Lescaut were also excellent.

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