[Met Performance] CID:121060

La Bohème
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, March 12, 1937

La Bohème (318)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa
Franca Somigli

Giovanni Martinelli

Stella Andreva

John Brownlee

George Cehanovsky

Virgilio Lazzari

Louis D'Angelo

Max Altglass

Carlo Coscia

Gennaro Papi

Review 1:

Review of Jerome D. Bohm in the Herald Tribune

Franca Somigli Heard as Mimi in 'La Bohème'

Puccini Opera in Its First Staging of Season; John Brownlee Sings Marcello

Giovanni Martinelli Makes Appearance as Rodolfo

Puccini's "La Bohème" received its first presentation of the season at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. Franca Somigli, who made her debut a few days previously in the same composer's "Madama Butterfly," was heard as Mimi, and Stella Andreva and John Brownlee impersonated for the first time on this stage the parts of Musetta and Marcello, respectively. Giovanni Martinelli appeared as the Rodolfo, George Cehanovsky as the Schaunard, and Virgilio Lazzari the Colline. The remaining parts were assumed by Messrs. D'Angelo, Altglass and Coscia.

"La Bohème" is Puccini's best opera. In it, his melodic inspiration was at its height, and the admixture of the gay and grave is dexterously wrought. But like "Tosca" and "Madama Butterfly" it demands first-rate singing and an imaginative conductor if the composer's conception is to be veraciously conveyed.

This second disclosure of Miss Somigli's gifts as a singer was not encouraging. Her voice, which with more expert projection might permit its native quality to emerge, is at present so tremolo ridden that it affords little pleasure to sensitive ears. In the third act, in her duet with Marcello, some of her top tones were emitted with greater steadiness; but in the ensuing "Addio" and closing quartet the tremolo again predominated, as it had throughout the previous acts. Her delineation was less convincing in the earlier scenes, where charm and naiveté are required, than in subsequent episodes, such as Mimi's overhearing of Rodolfo's account of the seriousness of her illness, where she succeeded in a measure in conveying the pathos of the situation.

The Musetta of Miss Andreva has taken as its prototype a vixenish English barmaid rather than the pert but basically tender chit envisaged by Puccini and his librettists, Giacosa and Illica. Her singing was for the most part metallic in texture in the upper range and almost inaudible in the lower register.

The most authoritative and tonally satisfying accomplishments of the evening were Mr. Martilnelli's. The mature quality of his voice is indubitably now better adapted to more heroic parts than to the essential lyricism of Rodolfo, but much of his work was highly expressive and telling. Mr. Brownlee voiced his music in acceptable fashion, and the remaining parts were in competent hands. Mr. Papi directed the first two acts in four-square, unyielding fashion. The third act was set forth with greater elasticity and with more warmth of feeling, but without the sensitivity of approach requisite to a complete revelation of the music's immanent tenderness. There was a capacity audience present, which applauded liberally and loudly.

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