[Met Tour] CID:123620

Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, Thu, April 7, 1938

Debut : Amri Galli-Campi

Rigoletto (226)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Carlo Tagliabue

Amri Galli-Campi [Debut] [Debut and only performance]

Duke of Mantua
Jan Kiepura

Irra Petina

Norman Cordon

Louis D'Angelo

Angelo Badà

George Cehanovsky

Count Ceprano
Wilfred Engelman

Countess Ceprano
Thelma Votipka

Lucielle Browning

Ettore Panizza

Review 1:

Review of Herbert Elwell in the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Debonair Kiepura's Smile Steals Undue Honors

The Metropolitan's performance of "Rigoletto" before another enormous audience at Public Hall last night was a notable revival of the Verdi work which, more than most operas still popular today, retains some of the more stilted classic conventions of the earlier half of the nineteenth century.

It is interesting that these leftovers from a less naturalistic period, while a little bothersome to the realistically trained mind of today, as when two people sing goodbye at each other for five minutes and still do nothing about separating, do not, nevertheless, damage the style and general coherence of the work for most listeners. "Rigoletto" is in the grandiose, courtly style. It is full of melodrama and villainy and deep-dyed tragedy. And it can stand a lot of, for us, meaningless operatic conventionality, for fundamentally the work has dignity and a sort of sinister grandeur. Or to put it another way, its extravagant plot of violence and murder, while furnishing all the necessary emotional cloth for a colorful operatic garment, would be almost too stark and raw to hold our interest if it did not lean on certain operatic conventions.

It is equally interesting that an opera, some of whose numbers like "La Donna e mobile" and the quartet in the last act have been parodied in every vaudeville house in the world, still has enough solid stuff in it to keep from sounding hackneyed and dull. It is a tribute to Verdi's genius that this battle-scarred warhorse still has enough vim and vigor to cut a mean caper and to enlist some of our liveliest sympathies.

New Talent Tried Here

What the audience last night was interested in, for one thing, was the first appearance here of the Polish tenor, Jan Kiepura, already popular because of his motion picture triumphs. There was also special interest in the debut of Amri Galli-Campi, who sang the part of Gilda, for never before has the Metropolitan tried out any of its absolutely new talent on its Cleveland audience.

Incidentally there were some changes in the cast as originally announced. Ezio Pinza was detained in New York because of illness and Norman Cordon replaced him as Sparafucile. And the role in which Cordon was to have sung, that of Monterone, was done by Louis d'Angelo, and incidentally done very well.

But not to take them out of turn, let us start with Rigoletto himself, who was very ably impersonated by Carlo Tagliabue, an obviously experienced baritone who knows how to modulate his opulent tones to wring from the part all its bitterness and irony and heartrending pathos. He made the cruelly-abused jester come to life with faithfulness to type and genuine feeling.

Kiepura captivated his listeners as much by his youthful debonair manner as by his extremely brilliant tenor, capable of ringing out on high C with almost deafening intensity. And at certain moments in the evening he almost stopped the show, such was the volume of applause. It is a question, however, whether his sparkling, smiling countenance did not win him more hearts than the unscrupulous philandering duke should have had on his side, According to the story our sympathies are supposed to be with Rigoletto. Kiepura stole some of it and upset the balance of power just a little.

Lack of Judgment Shown

He could be forgiven for this, since the preservation of character values is not all important to so artificial an art as opera anyway. But it showed a lack of musical judgment on his part to sing so loudly in his duet with Gilda that the latter's voice was completely drowned out. His tones are, in general, unnecessarily open, and he emotionalizes to a degree uncalled for even by the most bravura of passages. In short, he shows a tendency to want to be the "primo uomo" at all costs. And he has a charming enough personality to have his own way as far as the audience is concerned.

It is unfortunate that a few pure high tones are not enough to make a first rate coloratura. Otherwise Miss Galli-Ciampi might have filled the requirements of her role, and measured up to what we habitually think of as of Metropolitan caliber. She did valiantly with what she has, and she made a very favorable impression, if one were to judge by the applause. Nervousness probably kept her from doing her best. But she appeared ill at ease on the stage. And there is by no means enough solidity in her voice to allow her to execute "Caro nome" in anything but a labored style. Its runs and trills and leaps should be dashed off with the utmost ease. Done with painstaking care and conscientious emphasis, even though correct in pitch, they become little short of painful, and strongly suggest the amateur, rather than the skilled artist one has a right to expect on the Metropolitan stage.

Cordon made a thoroughly villainous Sparafucile and sang in a most gratifyingly full and resonant basso. Minor parts were very competently rendered by Irra Petina, Thelma Votipka, George Cehanovsky, Angelo Bada, Wilfred Engelman and Lucille Browing. Ettore Panizza conducted.

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