[Met Tour] CID:121440

Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts, Sat, April 10, 1937

Faust (411)
Charles Gounod | Jules Barbier/Michel Carré
Richard Crooks

Helen Jepson

Ezio Pinza

George Cehanovsky

Helen Olheim

Ina Bourskaya [Last performance]

Wilfred Engelman

Wilfred Pelletier

Review 1:

Review of Redfern Mason in the Boston Evening Transcript

Grand Opera Season Concludes with 'Faust'

Boston's season of the Metropolitan Opera ended on Saturday evening with a performance of "Faust." In the afternoon "Cavalleria Rusticana" was sung and the ballet "The Mouse," based on "Die Fledermaus," was given.

Probably the major interest of the day was the impersonation of Marguerite by Helen Jepson. Here we had a young American, talented, charming to look upon, essaying a role which has tested the worth of two generations of great artists. Would she rise equal to the test or would people say, as Philip Hale once said, of Madame Eames, that "New England elbows stuck out through Gounod's music.

The answer is that they said nothing of the kind. Miss Jepson did not put on affected Parisianism; neither did she insist that Gretchen, Marguerite's original, was an ingenuous young middle class German. She was pure American and this is good art, for shorn of its veneer, the character is above racial limitations, and is true womanly of all peoples.

This American Marguerite had the graces and the distinction that are the property of the aristocrat by the grace of God. Miss Jepson's art is delicate. Her demeanor in the first meeting with Faust and in the garden scene were of a winning ingenuousness. She made the "King of Thule" a vocal meditation; in the "Jewel Song" she flashed into instinctive coquetry. In the darker moments of the heroine's experience she was at her best in the church scene, and in the warring motions of the last act. When cursed by the dying Valentine, Miss Jepson was manifestly moving in a tragic world that, as yet, is outside her aesthetic horizon.

She sang uniformly well, with an unforced candor and sweetness that won the house. For an artist still in her prentice years the performance was one to create faith in her artistic future.

Richard Crooks was Faust, a well mannered graceful figure, a vocalist admirably endowed to portray the lyric ecstasy of the character, but suggesting little of its deeper aspects. His "Salut demeure" was beautifully sung. If he acted as well as he sings, he would be a notable Faust.

Of course Mephistopheles dominated the scenes. The part is one in which Ezio Pinza delights. By dint of a dry and telling humor he stripped the character of much of its medieval horror. Yet, in the church scene he invested it with a superstitious terror. His "Veau d'or," sung at whirlwind pace, swept the house.

George Cehanovsky's Valentine was pallid and unconvincing, but the Siebel of Helen Oelheim was so well done that people will wish her the boon of a sex all in herself and not the futile creature of the French librettist's imagining. That excellent artist Ina Bourskaya was capital in the role of Marthe.

Wilfred Pelletier conducted well. He knows the Gounod score both in letter and in spirit.

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