[Met Performance] CID:101840

Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, March 11, 1929

Review 1:

Review of W. J. Henderson in the New York Sun

'Manon' Again at Metropolitan

Gigli and Lucrezia Bori Sing in Massenet Opera, Which Had Been Shelved

Massenet's "Manon," found its way back to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House last evening. The work had been produced on December 23, after silence since 1923. It was given again on January 10, after which it faded away entirely until last night. The cause of the temporary retirement of the opera was the departure of the eminent Mr. Beniamino Gigli on one of those concert tours which so gloriously increase the emoluments of the hard working opera singer.

Having amazed various towns and cities of the land with his voice and accumulated a new stock of laudatory adjectives, the popular tenor has come back to the temple of art at Broadway and Thirty-ninth Street to impersonate the sentimental young Chevalier des Grieux to the best of his ability.

What disclosed itself as of deep moment in the revival of December was not only Mr. Gigli's voice nor Miss Bori's charm in the name part, but the restoration to the local stage of something like a correct presentation of the opera. When "Manon" had been sung before it had been attacked with rudeness, its passions torn to tatters and the polite romance of the Abbe Provost translated into a musical whirlwind. It was evident that Louis Hasselmans, conductor of French operas at the Metropolitan, had succeeded in infusing the better spirit into the performance and the result was gratifying.

The demonstration of last evening should be memorable in the annals of the opera house. All the refinement of the production was preserved, but there was an intensity in the utterance of passion such as no previous representation had known. Regarding it in perspective one may fairly say that there had been no such beautiful and moving performance of "Manon" since the days of Jean de Reszke and his associates.

Something more than that may be said. Lucrezia Bori's Manon last evening was undoubtedly the best the Metropolitan has even known. Her singing of the "Adieu" and her scene with Des Grieux in the chapel alone would stamp her impersonation as one of almost unrivaled excellence. In sheer voluptuousness of tone it stands by itself, while in the revelation of the character of Prevost's wayward heroine Miss Bori has accomplished something that would have brought glory to an actress of the spoken drama, wherein such achievements are less difficult.

Mr. Gigli's Des Grieux has gained in finish and last night he sang the entire role with ravishing voice and art. He and Miss Bori together achieved such a moving effect in the chapel scene that the brilliant Monday night audience was aroused to extraordinary enthusiasm. The two singers and Mr. Rothier, who had given a strikingly dignified and eloquent significance to the elder Des Grieux, were recalled a dozen times, the whole audience applauding vigorously. Mr. Hasselmans was also called twice.

Others who contributed to the success of the evening were Mr. de Luca and Mr. Bada. The handsome mounting of the opera may again be praised as well as the stage management. In short, "Manon" has taken on a new lease of life. It should not again be long absent from the repertory.

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