[Met Performance] CID:122640

Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, January 20, 1938

Review 1:

Review of Oscar Thompson in the Evening Sun

Grace Moore Sings in "Manon"

Film Star Has Title Role in French Opera

Time was when it might have been said of yesterday's activities at the Metropolitan Opera House that Wagner and "Mlle. Wagner" shared the day. But if the "Siegfried" of the afternoon was the quintessence of Wagner, the "Manon" of the evening was equally the quintessence of Massenet. Today there is so little in the manner or feeling to relate the two composers that it is difficult to regard even witty, much less apt of just, the reproaches that were leveled at the Frenchman in the days of "Le Petit Bayreuth."

Of "Manon" in particular it may be said that it is more "mademoiselle" than "Wagner." This was particularly true last night when mademoiselle was the drawing card, much more so that the music of Massenet. She wore sumptuous costumes and was pelted with flowers when she took her curtain calls. Tossing bouquets across the footlights has long been against the rules of the Broadway house, but those rules were never made for stars borrowed from the screen. The house held double or triple the number of standees ordinarily to be expected at a performance of "Manon." The reason for this clearly was the same as for the flowers. Mademoiselle was not Wagner, or yet Massenet, but Grace Moore.

In her second appearance of the season, Miss Moore confirmed the impression she gave at the earlier one (as Mimi in "La Bohème") that she is in some important respects a more substantial singer now than when she was appearing regularly with the company some years ago. Her highest tones did not come easily for her, but the voice otherwise was gratifyingly free and steady, ample in volume and warm in quality. Visually, this was not the most fragile of Manons, nor was Miss Moore's acting of the more vivid order. All was competent, all in accordance with time-honored operatic routine.

Another change of cast brought Sidney Rayner to the role of the Chavalier des Grieux. If not a romantic figure, his singing possessed the hallmarks of sound training in the French traditions. Contrary to most recent interpreters of the part, he was happier in the dramatic climaxes of "Ah, fuyez" which he sang with an abundance of ringing tone, than he was in the half-voice phrases of "Le Reve," where his notes were less secure and not altogether true. Among others concerned were John Brownlee as Lescaut, George Cehanovsky as de Bretigny, Chase Baromeo as the elder des Grieux and Angelo Bada as Guillot. Maurice de Abravanel conducted.

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