[Met Performance] CID:120830

Le Coq d'Or
Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, February 22, 1937

In French

Review 1:

Review of Samuel Chotzinoff in the New York Post

'Le Coq d'Or' Glitters At the Metropolitan

Pinza Reveals an Unsuspected Flair for Comedy - Lily Pons Lilts With Casual Accompaniment

"Le Coq d'Or" was sung at the Metropolitan last night before a large audience, which included an oppressive number of standees. The success of this revival of Rimsky's opera should convince impresarios and purveyors of musical art in general that it is wiser to present operatic spectacles in their original form. New-fangled procedures may prevail for a while, but in the end a work of art must stand or fall in the guise in which it was created. "Le Coq d'Or was conceived as an opera, not as a pantomime with subsidiary music. The Metropolitan, which first presented the work as a pantomime, has this season paid the composer the compliment of respecting his intentions, and the results are both commercially and artistically rewarding.

It is true that the musical fairy tale bears hard on the impersonators of the two principal characters - the Queen of Chemakha and King Dodon. The Queen must be not only a most expert coloratura soprano, but also a dancer expert enough to befuddle the senses of the somnolent old monarch and turn his doddering thoughts from war to love. The ludicrous old ruler must, on the other hand, possess a comic gift of a convincing order and be able to negotiate a few fancy Russian steps on his own. In the old days the comic pantomime and the professional dancing of Rosina Galli and Adolf Bolm were most impressive, but their professional excellence made one forge the satire of the story and relegated the music to secondary importance. Neither Miss Pons nor Mr. Pinza in the current restoration, can hold a candle to their predecessors as mimics. Yet doing what they can they are vastly more rewarding.

The opera shows Mr. Pinza, in particular, in the new and unexpected light of a gifted comedian. Perhaps never before has the singer's integrity as an artist been put to so severe a test, for King Dodon is so broadly farcical that the impersonator might be excused for taking every possible advantage of the part in order to accumulate laughs. Mr. Pinza resists all temptations to please the groundlings, and his King Dodon is a masterpiece of humor. If fault is to be found with it, it is perhaps on the score of understatement. His solo dance in the second act is one of the funniest things to be seen on any stage. Yet it is funny only because it manages to lie strictly in the domain of legitimate characterization. What a capital Falstaff this artist would make!

Miss Pons is successful on a less distinguished plane, as the Queen of Chemakha. Her pantomime is adequate and her florid vocal efforts are above reproach. The other participants are well in the general picture, though the cries of the Golden Cockerel left something to be desired in the matter of vocal accuracy. Mr. Papi led the orchestra in routine fashion, paying small attention to the niceties of the Korsakovian orchestration. On the whole, however, the spectacle offers heart-warming entertainment.

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