[Met Performance] CID:119430

The Bartered Bride
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, May 15, 1936

Debut : Muriel Dickson, George Rasely, Lucielle Browning

In English

The Bartered Bride (39)
Bed?ich Smetana | Karel Sabina
Muriel Dickson [Debut]

Mario Chamlee

George Rasely [Debut]

Louis D'Angelo

Lucielle Browning [Debut]

Wilfred Engelman

Anna Kaskas

John Gurney

Circus Barker
Norman Cordon

Natalie Bodanya

Red Indian
Ludwig Burgstaller

Ruthanna Boris

Helen Leitch

William Dollar

Wilfred Pelletier

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

George Balanchine

Translation by M. Marshall
The translation was by "Graham Jones," a pseudonym of Madeleine Marshall.
The Bartered Bride received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Samuel Chotzinoff in the New York Post

'The Bartered Bride' Revived At the Metropolitan Opera

Smetana's Musical Comedy Heard in English Translation - Muriel Dickson Scores in Operatic Debut

For the third offering of its spring season the Metropolitan presented a revival of Smetana's folk opera, "The Bartered Bride," last night. The work was sung in English by an English-American cast, and it may be said at once that the excellence of the translation by Graham Jones and the generally good diction of the principals made a complete case for the feasibility of opera in English. A sold-out house manifested joyfully its pleasure at understanding the rather complicated plot of Smetana's opera as well as the broad humor of the lines. And so absorbed was the audience in the outcome of the story that not a person left the house before the fall of the final curtain.

"The Bartered Bride" has never been popular with the Metropolitan public, so its genuine success last night must be attributed to the fact that for the first time an audience found the story both comprehensible and amusing. Mr. Jones had managed to assemble English words and phrases that suited the music and the sense and had at the same time a colloquial flavor. It was a pleasant surprise to hear Mr. D'Angelo, as the marriage broker, Kezal, confide to Mr. Chamlee, the Hans, that "he knew a honey, with plenty of money." And such colloquialisms as "hold your horses" seemed altogether in keeping with the peasant quality of the tale.

To one who had witnessed the American premiere of "The Bartered Bride," under Gustav Mahler, the musical aspect of last night's presentation seemed negligible indeed. The Overture was a slipshod affair in which the orchestra, playing out of tune, unfolded a lackadaisical and noisy prelude. Mr. Pelletier, who conducted, brought his forces through without glaring mishaps. But he quite missed the glowing lyricism, the deep seriousness, the rich humor of the great score. Most of all he missed its vitality, the rhythmic pulse of the earthy dance tunes. There were plenty of "luft pausen" and other pernicious addition to the printed music. But true rhythm was as absent from the orchestral performance as slap-stick comedy was present on the stage.

Mr. George Rasely, a newcomer assumed the role of the foolish and stammering Wenzel, an impersonation which made a great hit with the audience. Now Wenzel has two arias to sing which are among the most beautiful and touching solos in the entire opera. In this music the composer, while accommodating the melodic line to Wenzel's stuttering, does not make fun of the village simpleton. On the contrary, he exposes the innocent in the grip of true and universal emotions. But Mr. Rasely, apparently blind to the genuine beauty of his music, sang it and played the character exclusively for laughs, thus inviting derision instead of pity.

Mr. D'Angelo made an excellent marriage broker without resorting to slap-stick, and our old Metropolitan friend, Mr. Chamlee, was an attractive Hans except when he yelled his top notes. Miss Muriel Dickson, late star of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, made her Metropolitan debut in the part of Marie, and carried off the singing honors of the evening. Miss Dickson possesses a soprano voice of lovely quality and the necessary technique to manipulate it. Her high tones are true and effortless, while all the registers are expressive of a genuine musical personality. As an actress Miss Dickson is both charming and expert. Her success with last night's opera lovers was unqualified and one hopes that the management will present her with the opportunities she deserves.

"The Bartered Bride" at the Metropolitan is a good, low-down show, strong on farce and rather weak on music.

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