[Met Performance] CID:112130

La Traviata
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, December 1, 1932

La Traviata (187)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Rosa Ponselle

Tito Schipa

Richard Bonelli

Minnie Egener

Angelo Badà

Baron Douphol
George Cehanovsky

Marquis D'Obigny
Millo Picco

Dr. Grenvil
Paolo Ananian

Philine Falco

Rita De Leporte

Giuseppe Bonfiglio

Mildred Schneider

Tullio Serafin

Armando Agnini

Set Designer
Joseph Urban

Costume Designer
Mathilde Castel-Bert

Rosina Galli

La Traviata received seven performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Hubbard Hutchinson in the New York Times:

The performance as a whole was at a high level. One of the greatest contributions to its enthusiastic reception was Ricahrd Bonelli, the young American baritone who made his debut as Giorgio Germont. After his initial exit in the first [sic] act he was recalled by long applause. But this did not satisfy the audience. Miss Ponselle as Violetta had to go off stage and bring him back before the opera could continue. This time there were cheers and an even greater ovation than before. The same evidence that Mr. Bonelli had gone straight to the hearts of his hearers manifested itself at the close of the act, for he was called back again and again for a packed house unrestrainedly filling the air with "Bravo!"

Mr. Bonelli's engaging and dignified presence as Germont, his big range and full, easy utterance with which he commanded the role were not alone responsible for this unqualified popular success. The artist supplements the vocalist, and though the scrupulous care with which he outlined Verdi's splendid phrases may have been more apparent to critical than popular ears, this very faithfulness to the composer explains his success even more than a rich timbre and the dramatic effectiveness of his upper registers. Many baritones can send a high F ringing through the house. But few project mezza-voce and piano passages with the purity of line that he gave, for example, to "Di Provenza il mar". Sometimes Mr. Bonelli's fortissimi developed an open quality approaching harshness; sometimes his acting could have been more supple, but on the whole his performance was remarkably fine.

Review 2:

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

Richard Bonelli, American barytone, faced his first audience at the Metropolitan Opera House last night, when he sang the role of the senior Germont in the season's first performance of Verdi's "La Traviata," and discovered that his hearers liked his singing extremely well. Palms were beaten together with gusto in several curtain calls after the second act, the paternal Germont's first and principal scene, and chorused cheers were added to manual applause when Mr. Bonelli took his first bow alone. His fellow principals in the Verdi-Piave operatic tragedy were Rosa Ponselle as Violetta and Tito Schipa, with whom Mr. Bonelli must have frequently sung during the last few years in the Chicago Opera, as Alfredo.

Mr. Bonelli, who is the seventh singer and the fourth of American nationality to make a first Metropolitan appearance during the ten-day old opera season, deserved his ovation. Having served for five or six years with the Chicago Civic Opera in leading roles, he was able to step upon the Metropolitan's stage without the trepidation which traditionally waits upon debuts in our historic, if not particularly beautiful, opera house, or at least to show no overt signs of it, and to give a performance that indicated a thorough acquaintance with the music of his role.

His voice proved to be of capacious volume and range, far carrying, notably firm and even in quality, and was employed with a remarkably consistent smoothness and absence of forcing, and except for a few notes towards the top of his gamut early in the second act; his interpretation exhibited artistic vocal phrasing and musicianship. His voice last night was of a rather dusky hue, and there was reason to wonder whether it encompasses a wide variety of color, but of that there will be time to learn later on. In a satisfactory, not over-conventionalized enactment of his role-one which does not widely test out a singing-actor's' histrionic ability-Mr. Bonelli gave promise of being one or the most valuable additions of recent years to the Metropolitan's singing forces.

"La Traviata," nearing its seventieth birthday, remains one of the freshest, most eloquent operas of the standard Italian repertoire, and last night's performance was vital and expressive. Miss Ponselle's Violetta was, as before, unabashedly emotional and demonstrative-an entirely valid interpretation if not one that eclipses memories of the more aristocratic, more subtly delineated interpretation of this role by Lucrezia Bori-and the noted American soprano was usually in excellent voice. Her vigorous treatment of certain measures was not altogether adapted to the style and contour of the music, but she offered much eloquent, exquisitely phrased singing.

Mr. Schipa, singing Alfredo for the first time in this house, did his best vocal work thus far in his Metropolitan career, with more clarity and freedom of tone than before; in action, he did intelligent and effective work. Mmes. Egener and Falco, Messrs. Bada, Gandolfi, Picco and Ananian completed the cast and Mr. Serafin conducted for a large audience, including an unusual concentration of standees.

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