[Met Performance] CID:107390

World Premiere, New Production, American Opera

Peter Ibbetson
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 7, 1931 Matinee

Debut : Ella Eckert

Peter Ibbetson (1)
Deems Taylor | Deems Taylor/Constance Collier
Peter Ibbetson
Edward Johnson

Lucrezia Bori

Colonel Ibbetson
Lawrence Tibbett

Mrs. Deane
Marion Telva

Mrs. Glyn
Ina Bourskaya

Angelo Badà

Léon Rothier

Louis D'Angelo

Grace Divine

Giordano Paltrinieri

Millo Picco

Phradie Wells

Mme. Seraskier
Aida Doninelli

Claudio Frigerio

Santa Biondo

Philine Falco

Marek Windheim

Alfredo Gandolfi

Sister of Charity
Minnie Egener

Prison Governor
George Cehanovsky

Gogo Pasquier
Ella Eckert [Debut]

Mimsi Seraskier
Marie Schmidt

Tullio Serafin

Wilhelm Von Wymetal

Joseph Urban

Peter Ibbetson received ten performances this season. The opera received twenty-two performances in four seasons.

Review 1:

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

"Peter Ibbetson", lyric drama composed by Deems Taylor on commission from Giulio Gatti-Casazza for the Metropolitan Opera House, was produced at Saturday's matinee. Mr. Taylor and Constance Collier, eminent actress, made the libretto from the novel of Du Maurier.

The book of the opera, skillfully constructed, is one of poignant pathos and in one moment, that of the fatal blow which kills Col. Ibbetson, it is intensely tragic. Mr. Taylor's music does not interfere with the unfolding of the story. There might have been less of it perhaps in the changes of scene, which are unnecessarily slow. The last scene is the best musically, though even in this the text and dramatic development hold the superior positions. A large audience received the new opera with favor. There were several recalls after the first act and Mr. Taylor appeared on stage to accept his share of the applause. There were more calls at the close of the opera.

Mr. Gatti-Casazza had given the work as good a cast as possible. Miss Bori, beautifully costumed, looked adorable, acted with

dignity and charm, and sang as well as the dialogue from of nearly all her music would let her. Mr. Johnson as Peter Ibbetson had the most important role in the drama and acted it earnestly. His clear cut diction went far toward sustaining the interest of his scenes. Mr. Tibbett made a gallant figure of the old roue, Col. Ibbetson, and his acting had genuine theatrical value. Mr. Serafin conducted with authority.

From the

Review 2:

Review of Olin Downes in the New York Times:

Is it unjust, then, to say that the principal figure in the success of "Peter Ibbetson" was not present yesterday, and had in fact been dead fifty-five years? We mean, of course, Du Maurier, author of the tale which, once read, is always recalled. Yes! This would be a little unjust, for the book owes much, having been made an opera, to the dramatization given its essential form and substance by Miss Collier and then finally molded to his purposes by Mr. Taylor. He has assembled a very affecting drama with slow music, and some fast music too. It is the slow music which, in scenes of irresistible pathos, touches the heart. We are not sure that the heart would be touched if it were only for the music.

From the

Review 3:

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune

Again and again in the score of "Peter Ibbetson" we come upon repercussions of "Tristan," "Parsifal." "Walküre," "Pelléas." Less frequently, we hear reflections of Strauss and of Puccini. But chiefly the idiom is that of Wagner, or it is Wagner oddly blended with Debussy; or we hear the two in juxtaposition. The most serious result of this is a damaging monotony of musical mood and harmonic color. The unbridled chromaticism, the familiar suspensions, the chords of the ninth-these things numb the attention long before we have reached the end of the work.

They are varied unhappily by the recurrence of that strain of drawing-room balladry which is the besetting sin of Mr. Taylor's own style. They are varied more happily by passages in that lighter vein in which he has always been deft and swift. Most happily, they are varied by those pages, some of them charming in effect, to which French folksongs have contributed. Mr. Taylor is not, of course, the first composer to reflect the idioms of his predecessors. The mighty Richard himself paid his respects to Beethoven, Weber, Chopin. Debussy flattered Moussorgsky, Wagner, even Massenet. Listening to "Tristan" and "Pelléas," we realize the derivation of certain passages, the source of a harmonic progression or a melodic phrase.

But these men assimilated that upon which heir imaginations fed, made it a part of themselves. If we choose to discover in the ascending chromatic phrase that dominates "Tiristan," the rising minor-seconds from the introduction of Beethoven's "Sonate Pathétique," we shall be justified. But who, listening to the "Tristan" phrase ever thinks of anything but Wagner? That which he fed upon became himself. And the same sort of esthetic metabolism goes on in the case of every creative artist who speaks to us out of his own imaginative experience. That which has entered into him becomes transformed, is turned into living tissue. Whatever he says to us, regardless of its derivation, has become his by virtue of his creative way of saying it, acquires a vital unity and authenticity.

Mr. Taylor has not yet shown us that he can accomplish this sort of creative imaginative transmutation. The material that passes through his mind acquires a depressant quality, amorphous and uncharactered; the Wagnerisms, the Debussyisms, are watered-down, thinned, and we get something. that is productive neither of the pleasure of recognition nor the emotion of surprise. We realize only that something has happened to the masters, without benefit to Mr. Taylor or to us.

Mr. Taylor in this new score manifests a greater skill, superior finesse in the use of his material. But his technical approach to various problems is still tentative. His writing for the voices is not happy. The vocal line is uninteresting, inexpressive; nor is the fitting of words to music always effectively managed. The opera benefits from the viability of the play-for "Peter Ibbetson," the drama, despite that overripeness of sentiment which contraindicates it for some mental diets, is undeniably good theater.

The Metropolitan has given Mr. Taylor's new opera a lavish production. The talents of Miss Bori, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Tibbett are devoted to an earnest attempt at a realization of the characters; the zeal and generalship of Mr. Serafin to a coordination of the musical elements involved. It cannot have been a simple work to mount; but yesterday it went smoothly and illusively, though the production is without imaginative distinction.

Mr. Tibbett as Colonel Ibbetson gave an admirable performance-the best of the afternoon, Miss Bori, very fetching in her early-Victorian costumes, was self-conscious and artificial as the Duchess of Towers. Mr Johnson, as Peter, seemed unhappy.

Mr. Urban's settings were surprisingly commonplace. A word of praise should go to the designer of the charming costumes, whose identity was undisclosed by the program.

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