[Met Tour] CID:123440

Lyric Theater, Baltimore, Maryland, Tue, March 22, 1938

Review 1:

Review of George Schaun in the Baltimore Sun

"Otello" Given Warm Reception

Shakespeare's "Othello," as shaped for operatic usage by the libretto of Arrigo Boito and the music of Giuseppe Verdi (as known thus as "Otello") was given last night at the second presentation of the Metropolitan Opera Company's three night season in this city. The noisy approval of a large audience again set the Lyric Theater's rafters and windows to shaking, though with somewhat less tumult than during the preceding performance of Wagner's "Tristan."

By one of those turns of fortune that sometimes make the lot of impresario an unhappy one, a throat infection prevented that fine artist, Lawrence Tibbett, from appearing as the crafty, hypocritical Iago. Another baritone, Carlo Tagliabue, who had sung the role with the Metropolitan on a previous occasion, was hurriedly summoned from New York and he gave a creditable performance, vocally if not histrionically.

All the world loves a lover, as the makers of opera well know. All the world, too, takes infinite pleasure in observing the scoundrely doings of stage villains. Yet it is just here that the whole field of opera is notably poor.

In opera's array of parts, many as they are, those of really convincing villains are rare. Mephistopheles in Gounod's "Faust," though he is an engaging fellow, sardonic and wise beyond his words and music, is after all made of cardboard and a silk doublet. Discarding others from the threatening Kingsport, to Verdi's Duke of Mantua, perhaps only Iago, grim Hagen of "Gotterdammerung" and Scorpio of "Tosca" are left.

"Honest Iago," as he is mistakenly known to Otello, is rightfully the commanding figures of the opera written by Verdi as the ripe age of 74. Last night, however, the dominating figure was unquestionably that of Otello, sung by Giovanni Martinelli, who well knows his way around the stage after twenty-five active years as a member of the Metropolitan's organization.

There was intense satisfaction to be found in the singing of both Mr. Martinelli and Elisabeth Rethberg, as Desdemona, in the melodically lovely first act duet. Here, where Boito has cleverly shaped Shakespeare's "She loved me for the dangers I had passed," there is music touched with infinite tenderness.

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