[Met Performance] CID:109790

Metropolitan Opera Premiere, New Production

Donna Juanita
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, January 2, 1932 Matinee

Donna Juanita (1)
Franz von Suppé | F. Zell/Richard Gene?e
René (Donna Juanita)
Maria Jeritza

Riégo Manrique
Rudolf Laubenthal

Gil Polo
Gustav Schützendorf

Editha Fleischer

Hans Clemens

Donna Olympia
Dorothee Manski

Don Pomponio
Marek Windheim

Sir Douglas
Louis D'Angelo

George Cehanovsky

Pearl Besuner

Dorothea Flexer

Max Altglass

Arnold Gabor

Artur Bodanzky

Hanns Niedecken-Gebhard

Set Designer
Joseph Urban

Costume Designer
Lillian Gärtner Palmedo

August Berger

The score was performed in a "New Version by Artur Bodanzky."
Donna Juanita received eight performances this season.

Review 1:

Review by Olin Downes in The New York Times:



Rivals Her Boccaccio in von Suppé's Sparkling Operetta

at the Metropolitan.


First Performance Here of Work That Combines Burlesque and Farce

?A Stirring Chorus.

The first Metropolitan Opera performance of Suppé's "Donna Juanita." took place yesterday afternoon, with Mme. Jeritza in the title role. This production is the sequel to the Metropolitan adventure of last season in the realm of light opera when it produced Suppé's "Boccaccio." and displayed Mme. Jeritza's talents and charms in male attire to a delighted public.

In "Donna Juanita" Mme. Jeritza's personality is more complex. The audience is given to understand that, though she appears to be a woman, she is actually a man. The various disguises of the heroine vacillate between the outward appearance of now one sex and now another. But this does not particularly matter, any more than a ridiculous and inconsequential plot matters. Mme. Jeritza is seen in various disguises. She romps through this opera as she romped through "Boccaccio," and even more athletically. She enjoys herself immensely, having a born talent for this sort of thing. And there is no gainsaying the effect of her personality. Others sang better than she did yesterday afternoon. But it was the Jeritza, with her authority, her aplomb, her abounding animal spirits and her capacity to seize the stage, who made the occasion.

Douglas Fairbanks could not have outdone her in athletics. Her swift bound upward into the waiting arms of two male colleagues was accomplished so suddenly and quickly that no one knew exactly how it had been done. But it was the Jeritza of the second act, a superb figure in a long Spanish court gown of black and gold, who will be best remembered, and not the hussy who released balloons to the Metropolitan ceiling or even the cavalier who planted a foot upon the box of the unfortunate prompter. By her communicative temperament, her real love of fun, and unfeigned pleasure In doffing the manner of serious opera. Mme, Jeritza triumphed?not through song. The audience's tribute for singing was bestowed first and foremost upon Miss Fleischer, and then upon the frisky Miss Manski. Nevertheless. and the fact is significant, it was Jeritza, first and last, who dominated yesterday's stage, and would have done so with less opportunity. The more the pity that she seldom knows when to stop. the result being that, now and again, as in the last act, the joke is overdone.

Jeritza had the fortunate cooperation of other artists and stage business well devised for its purpose by Hanns Niedecken- Gebhard, who gave further proof of the wisdom of the Metropolitan in changing its stage managers of past seasons for the two men who now devise the dramatic action of the productions. Suppé's operetta was treated yesterday for what it was worth, for light farce at its best, and burlesque and farce in other places. The last act is a couple of a songs and a ballet. The children's ballet was refreshingly out of the conventional rut. with its various games and costumes, its marches and the mock bull fight and, not least, the bull. This entertained and amused. German opera singers frequently resorting to English speech also amused. Mme. Jeritza amused. The piece was voted excellent for this time of depression.

There are moments in this opera worthy of the best pages of composers of Suppé's school. The stirring chorus at the end of the first act, when the Spaniards expres insurrectionary fury, is one of these, and it was magnificently sung by the chorus. Occasionally there is a passage as warmly melodic and sentimental as that of the duet of Riego and Petrita at the beginning of the last act. music worthy of the age of innocence in Vienna of the utter nineteenth century. The end of the second act is weaker musically, but it is a most diverting spectacle, especially as Mr. Neidecken-Gebhard and August Berger devised it, which fairly brought down the house, so that there were minutes of applause and curtain calls afterward. There are some excellent polkas and waltzes. There was the beautiful singing of Miss Fleischer, the Petrita and the excellent performance of Dorothea Manski frisking about as the wife of the Alcade Pompilio, the lady bitten with the fury of the dance.

These remarks may impress the reader as being ahead of the story. What is the opera all about? That highly complicated subject was treated at the length of about a column in last Sunday's Times. The tale was then faithfully transcribed from the libretto. But with all the efforts in the world to elucidate it, it remains a piece of perfect nonsense and incoherency. In the end librettist and composer give up the pretext of telling a tale which has now arrived at a complete impasse and non-fertility of sentiment, and close the thing with a general dance. By which it will be seen that the cataloguing of episodes would be a stale and profitless proceeding here. The remarkable part of it is that Suppé in spite of this contrives so much sparkling. melodious music. and sometimes even rises to a special height. as in the finale of Act. I. Nothing in "Boccaccio" equals this finale. On the other hand "Boccaccio" is better continuity and comedy, too.

The scene of the operetta being laid in San Sebastian, with England and France competing for control of the territory, with sinuous plotting and counter-plotting which involve two pairs of lovers; with two foolish, amorous and elderly husbands; with a queen quite insane and addicted to dancing, and other stock figures of comedy provides enough background for varied costuming and lively music. Some may object that this is not material for the Metropolitan, and that it might be presented to better advantage in other corners of Broadway. It is a matter of opinion and taste. We had a thousand times rather see a lively "Donna Juanita," with its movement and glitter and specious song, than some stodgy old chestnut of an opera which has lain dead for a century. The performance yesterday afternoon was entertainment of a sort and on the whole admirably rendered. At the end all who had taken leading parts were obliged to appear and bow from the stage. These included. Mr. Niedecken-Gebhard, Mr. Berger, who had devised the dances, Mr. Bodanzky, the conductor, and the great stars of the operatic firmament and their delighted satellites.



Thirty, Freed by Jeritza in

"Donna Juanita," Rise to

Ceiling of Metropolitan.


So Marksman With Shotgun Brings

Rest Down, Incidentally Peppering

the Plaster and Cherubs.

The arabesque gold-leaf ceiling of the Metropolitan Opera House is spattered with small black marks and the cherubs who smile down are riddled with partridge shot fired from a shotgun. To the operagoers, however, it cannot be noticed, but attaches of the Metropolitan are not likely to forget what happened to the balloons that got away yesterday afternoon during the first performance of "Donna Juanita." Released during what is known as the fête scene by Maria Jeritza, some thirty balloons of different hues shot out from the stage and floated to the ceiling instead of straight up from the stage. There they stuck. The audience drifted out from the matinee performance and nobody paid any attention to the cluster. For the opera company officials, however, it was a. question of how to get them down. Just how high the ceiling is would be found In the architectural plans or in reference books. At any rate it was a long way to reach. Doormen went up to the family circle and reached up and craned their necks.

Bean Shooter Falls.

Other attaches thought of calling the fire department, but finally Lloyd Brown, son of Hugh R. Brown, the superintendent of the building, went up to the upper balcony with a bean shooter. His first attempt was a direct hit, and a blue balloon popped with a bang. His second and third tries were successful, and he was aiming a fourth time when suddenly, and for no known reason, the lights went out. There was some shouting and remonstration, and then the lights came on. Young Brown ventured again, but his aim was bad and he missed the swaying balloons.

Everything seemed rather hopeless. It was agreed that the balloons could not remain there, for they would certainly deflate just about time for the night performance to flop down on the heads of those listening to the music of "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "L'Oracolo." Then came rescue in the person of Carlo Edwards, majordomo of the house, who brought with him a shotgun and plenty of ammunition. At first there were protests that the ceiling would be ruined and that the plaster would fall down in chunks. But Mr. Edwards produced shells containing the very finest of shot. There followed a brief consultation and it was agreed that the shooting be done from a distance so that the pellets would scatter properly and as little damage as possible be caused.

Shotgun Is Successful.

Mr. Edwards walked to the back part of the auditorium. Near him stood apprehensive officials of the Metropolitan. The marksman took careful aim and fired. Two balloons were annihilated. He shot again and again, making a hit almost every time. At last there remained only seven. Edwards sighed. raised the gun to his shoulder and fired. It was a most successful try, for all the balloons popped, and the incident was closed. Mr. Brown said later that the balloons would in all probability be eliminated from performances of "Donna Juanita."

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