[Met Performance] CID:122470

Gianni Schicchi
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, January 7, 1938

Debut : James Demers, Rose Pauly

Gianni Schicchi (32)
Giacomo Puccini | Giovacchino Forzano
Gianni Schicchi
Lawrence Tibbett

Hilda Burke

Charles Kullman

Charlotte Symons

Thelma Votipka

Doris Doe

George Rasely

George Cehanovsky

Louis D'Angelo

Chase Baromeo

James Demers [Debut]

Pompilio Malatesta

Wilfred Engelman

John Gurney

Arnold Gabor

Gennaro Papi

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Elektra (7)
Richard Strauss | Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Rose Pauly [Debut]

Irene Jessner

Kerstin Thorborg

Friedrich Schorr

Paul Althouse

Dorothee Manski

Serving Woman
Doris Doe

Serving Woman
Helen Olheim

Serving Woman
Lucielle Browning

Serving Woman
Thelma Votipka

Serving Woman
Susanne Fisher

Anna Kaskas

Irra Petina

Young Servant
Karl Laufkötter

Old Servant
Arnold Gabor

Norman Cordon

Artur Bodanzky

Set Designer
Joseph Urban

Costume Designer
Lillian Gärtner Palmedo

Translation by Percy Pitt
Gianni Schicchi received four performances this season.
R. Strauss-Hofmannsthal
Elektra received five performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Olin Downes in the New York Times:

Last night's audience knew that no other singer on this side of the water could bring to the title part of the opera the intensity, majesty and dramatic power that Miss Pauly displayed or a voice so magnificently adequate to the music. Nor did Miss Pauly fail to satisfy her audience. Her [first] passage, the invocation to the shade of Agamemnon which, incidentally, was the greatest moment of the whole interpretation, was conclusive. We do not remember the passage delivered with such pathos and nobility on any other occasion in an American theatre. No one else gave it such breadth and classic line. Few voices have at once the power and the color that the music asks. Here is a singer born for the part.

But it was not only the tone and the profound and consuming emotion of the moment that carried it straight and deep to the comprehension of those who listened. It was the fact that the whole being of the artist was instinct with the material of the music. Gesture, movement, grandly sculptured as sudden and impulsive, emanated from the score, reflected, almost as instinctively as the movement of an animal, every melodic or rhythmical detail that sounded in the orchestra. But all detail was subordinate to and comprehended in the grand design.

It is not a voice or an artist which seeks first smooth vocal mechanism and rounded and fluent tone. Vocally the singing was uneven, although, at appropriate times, as for example in the duet with Orestes, there was a haunting tenderness and sensuousness of quality. But that is not the objective of this remarkable singing actress. She is completely the dramatic interpreter. It is in this cause that the tone assumes a thousand colors, according to the stress of the moment, while sometimes the voice is as jagged as Strauss's terrific text.

The emotion conveyed is the first and last consideration, and there is nothing halfway about it, and anyone who sought the measure of the artist could have it, immediately, in the great call to the spirit of the murdered king, the unearthly exaltation that shone in the face of her whose will summoned the vision before her and the infinite tenderness and pity of the outstretched arms as the noble lament came to its end, and the motive of the children of Agamemnon swelled from the orchestra.

Incidentally, this is one of the supreme moments in Strauss, a moment of a kind so great that even when it is encountered cheek by jowl with banal ideas which have no place in such company the incongruity is forgotten and the sublime inspiration towers over everything. But the moment requires an artist like last night's to convey it adequately.

Review 2:

Review of Lawrence Gilman in the New York Herald Tribune

Strauss's terrific character of Elektra - Strauss's and Hofmannsthal's - came to life again last evening on the Metropolitan stage where we had last beheld and heard here almost five years ago. Disheveled and maniacal, a ragged and appalling apparition, shrieking her imprecations and her hate, she paced once more the courtyard of Agamemnon's palace and dug in its mire for the buried and avenging ax like the degraded demon and the sovereign spirit that the music and the play have made her. There is no more formidable rôle in opera - none more nearly unrealizable: a rôle that is almost impossible to sing, almost impossible to act. Yet it was sung last night magnificently, summoned into being before us by the recreative fury of an incandescent temperament and an amazing art.

This well-nigh incredible feat was accomplished by the Metropolitan's newly acquired Hungarian soprano Rose Pauly - that same Rose Pauly who stirred an unprepared and unsuspecting Philharmonic-Symphony audience last March in Carnegie Hall to a frenzy of excitement by her singing of extensive excerpts from the music in what was expected to be a wholly decorous performance of the scenes in concert form. Miss Pauly on that still unforgettable occasion was able to allow herself only suggestions of histrionic action; yet, despite those limitations the figure of Elektra, authentic and terrible, rose before us with searing and indelible veracity, and none who witnessed that phenomenon is ever likely to forget it.

Last evening in its proper environment upon the Metropolitan stage this superb impersonation came naturally into its own, and held an audience of enormous size in a stage of uncomfortable tension for almost an hour and a half. It would not be true, so far as I am concerned, to say that Miss Pauly's performance appropriately costumed and made up and with the whole of the Metropolitan stage at her disposal, was more moving than that which she gave at Carnegie Hall last spring garbed in an evening gown and carrying a bouquet. It could not have been: for that earlier performance was consummate and unsurpassable. The gain last night was that Elektra took her intended place in the drama's ebb and flow and visible growth reflecting its other elements shaping their progress before our eyes.

As before, the feature of her performance was the clarity and eloquence with which it laid bare the essential nobility of the character and the greatness of its motivation. Battered, degraded, appalling though she is in her wildness and her rage, with the horror of remembered murder in her dreadful eyes and in her frenzied voice the exaltation and grandeur of her spirit are subduing. We know that this is the burning instrument of a holy cause: and last evening in the overwhelming climax of the recognition scene, the pathos and tenderness of its sublimating grief lifted the music-drama to the high plane where it belongs and placed its greatness beside the beauty and elevation of its peers.

The performance as a whole was worthy of the opera's greatness. Mr. Bodanzky has done nothing finer here than his direction last evening of the terrifying score: his understanding of the music has probed its depths and heights and searched its huge intensities.

There will be other and more leisurely occasions before long to speak in more detail of the production - of Mme. Thorborg's striking Klytemnestra, of Miss Jessner's excellent Chrysothemis and Mr. Schorr's Orestes (already known here). The production is one of the most moving and harmonious that the Metropolitan has achieved. To miss it would be a misfortune not easily to be borne.

"Elektra" was prefaced last evening by Puccini's delightful one-act farce, "Gianni Schicci."

John Chapman in The New York News


It was a vocal and physical tour de force and Rose was still the mad, tragic Cinderella she'd been playing when she came out to take her bows. Instead of bowing "thank you" the way the others did, she staggered about and cast a lunatic gaze over the assembled bosoms and shirt fronts.

The prolonged, malevolent intensity of the Strauss score was too much for some of the older customers, who began wandering up the aisle a good half-hour before the end. But Bodanzky kept right on whipping his men as if they were so many gnomes in the pit of hell, and Mme. Pauly kept right on giving.

Photograph of Rose Pauly as Elektra by Wide World Studio.

Photograph of Paul Althouse as Aegisth and Rose Pauly as Elektra by World Wide Studio.

Search by season: 1937-38

Search by title: Gianni Schicchi, Elektra,

Met careers