[Met Tour] CID:101650

The King's Henchman
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, February 26, 1929

The King's Henchman (15)
Deems Taylor | Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edward Johnson

Florence Easton

Lawrence Tibbett

William Gustafson

Merle Alcock

Louis D'Angelo

George Meader

Ostharu/Fisherman's Wife
Charlotte Ryan

Mildred Parisette

Dorothea Flexer

Everett Marshall

George Cehanovsky

Max Altglass

James Wolfe

Hwita/Old Man
Marek Windheim

Arnold Gabor

Blacksmith's Wife
Minnie Egener

Paolo Ananian

Miller's Wife/Hildeburh/Saddler's Wife
Mary Bonetti

Frederick Vajda

Tullio Serafin

Review 1:

Review of Samuel L. Lecair in the Philadelphia Public Ledger

'King's Henchman' Sung Here

Metropolitan's American Cast Has Hard Time Making Its English Understood

'The King's Henchman," by Deems Taylor, the only American opera yet to hold a place in the repertoire of the Metropolitan Opera Company for three consecutive seasons, was presented by the company last evening at the Academy of Music. The second hearing of the opera here (it was not given in Philadelphia last season) confirmed the original one that it is the best American opera yet produced, although there are many things both in the libretto and in the music which would seem to militate against its securing a permanent place in the operatic repertoire.

Musically, the best places in the work are the choruses of the first and last acts. The drinking chorus of the first act is excellently written with regard to the vocal effects, and the chorus of the last, sung without accompaniment, is also very effective. The music of the last act is the best of the opera as a whole and that act contains almost the only strikingly dramatic situation of the work.

Orchestration Heavy

The orchestration is very heavy and Mr. Taylor has followed the Wagnerian principle of placing the melodies nearly always in the orchestra with a few notable exceptions furnishing the best and most effective vocal spots of the opera. The opera was sung in English, of course, and except for a few, one might almost say very few, places, the words were about as intelligible as though it were sung in Chinese. This in spite of the fact that English is the native language of a very majority of the members of the cast.

The performance itself was excellent. The cast is exceedingly large, no fewer than twenty-nine persons being required, although the number of real important roles does not exceed half a dozen. Edward Johnson,. As the Henchman, gave a thoroughly artistic presentation of the role, being exceedingly good vocally and dramatically in each of the three acts.

Easton Acts Well

Florence Easton also both sang and acted well, her dramatic work in the last act being one of the best things she has done here for many seasons. Lawrence Tibbett made a splendid King and William Gustafson had an unusual opportunity as Marcus, the harper, to do some very good singing, something which does not often fall to the lot of the possessor of the lowest male voice in most operas.

Mr. Serafin conducted and, while he undoubtedly brought out all the details which the score contains, musically and orchestrally, the scoring is very heavy, and the conductor allowed the orchestra too much leeway many times, with the result that the voices could not be heard, let alone the words distinguished, in many important places of the opera. Generally, the work was enthusiastically received by the audience.

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