[Met Performance] CID:118510

La Bohème
Gianni Schicchi
Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, January 27, 1936

In English

La Bohème (311)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa
Eidé Norena

Charles Kullman

Helen Gleason

Carlo Morelli

George Cehanovsky

Virgilio Lazzari

Pompilio Malatesta

Max Altglass

Carlo Coscia

Gennaro Papi

Gianni Schicchi (27)
Giacomo Puccini | Giovacchino Forzano
Gianni Schicchi
Lawrence Tibbett

Hilda Burke

Joseph Bentonelli

Charlotte Symons

Thelma Votipka

Ina Bourskaya

Marek Windheim

George Cehanovsky

Louis D'Angelo

Chase Baromeo

Frank Castino

Pompilio Malatesta

Alfredo Gandolfi

James Wolfe

Arnold Gabor

Gennaro Papi

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Gianni Schicchi received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


First Attempt at Metropolitan, with 'Gianni Schicchi,' a Mirth Provoker


House Laughs at the Lines, the Instrumentation and Tibbett's Antics in Title Role

The obvious amusement and interest shown by a large audience in the Metropolitan Opera Association's performance of Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" was proof that there are occasions and there are operas which do very well when sung in English. This was the first attempt of the present management to offer its patrons opera in the vernacular, and the attempt was a signal success. How many operas would profit by this treatment is another question. Last night the humor of the dialogue and the score were understood as never before by a Metropolitan audience, and by so much the more was Puccini's comedy appreciated. The house had an immensely good time. It looked and listened to a score not in itself of musical importance, though well manipulated, and it laughed. It laughed at the lines; it laughed at the adroitness and mischief of Puccini's instrumentation, as well as that of his vocal ensemble, and it laughed right heartily at antics of Mr. Tibbett, the Gianni Schicchi, and his colleagues on the stage.

Broad farce was the key of the thing, and the spirit of farce was invoked in such a way that everyone took for granted the absurdities of the situations devised by Forzano: the relatives anxiously waiting for the death of rich old Donati; the summoning of the crafty Gianni Schicchi, who impersonated him with trembling paralytic limbs and cackling voice, to remake the will in their favor; and the scheming rogue, willing to himself all of the miser's valuable belongings to the end that his daughter and her lover, might marry and other rascals be confounded. In the presentation of this farce there was good stage management and excellent fooling. Diction was more important than song; sometimes the text was spoken, but on occasion there was good singing.

Tibbett was the central point, of course, of all this, and he acquitted himself admirably in the exaggerated manner appropriate to his part. The countenance swaddled in layers of cloth; the sly but domineering gait as he plotted his scheme and commanded the trembling relatives, the senile tones and blinking eyes and shaking limbs and bobbing nightcap, poked through the bed curtains, only made the more uproarious the instant of the sudden powerful movement with which the ebullient Schicchi, his trick once accomplished, leaped from the bed and lashed the huddling hypocrites from the room.

And then, as so excellently devised by dramatist and composer, the great windows were opened on sunny Florence of the thirteenth century, and youth stepped in through the sunlight, and the duet of the happy lovers brought the scene to a close. This duet was successfully negotiated and sung in a fine spirit by Hilda Burke, the Lauretta, and Joseph Bentonelli, who increased his reputation by his solo and ensemble performance.

There were varying degrees of distinctness in the enunciation of English. Very naturally, the American members of the cast, as Chase Baromeo, the Simone; Louis d'Angelo, the Marco; Mr. Bentonelli, Miss Burke, and, above all, with. his superb pronunciation and diction, Mr. Tibbett, were in this respect in the ascendancy. Frank Castino's boy, Gherardino, the doctor of Mr. Malatesta, and the notary of Alfredo Gandolfi were other felicitous details.

This skit was very well received. It was preceded by "La Bohème," with Kullman as the Rodolfo, Norena as Mimi in what is perhaps her finest impersonation, Helen Gleason as Musetta and Messrs. Cehanovsky, Morelli and Lazzari as the other three bohemians in that enchanting score which will always remain, by virtue of its youth, poetry and inspiration, Puccini's masterpiece. Mr. Papi conducted both performances.

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