[Met Performance] CID:124040

La Bohème
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, November 24, 1938

Debut : Mafalda Favero, Jussi Björling, Marisa Morel

La Bohème (330)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa
Mafalda Favero [Debut]

Jussi Björling [Debut]

Marisa Morel [Debut]

John Brownlee

George Cehanovsky

Norman Cordon

Louis D'Angelo

Max Altglass

Carlo Coscia

Gennaro Papi

Désiré Defrère

Costume Designer
Blaschke & Cie

La Bohème received nine performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Oscar Thompson in The New York Sun

Jussi Björling's high notes were precisely what the crowd about the rail was waiting for in the "Racconto," sung in the original key. If they were sometimes a little taut and a shade sharp, they were vital and musical. The Swedish tenor made clear that he has a voice of good operatic metal and that he knows how to shape the lyric phrase. As he is one of the shortest of Rodolphos, there was a touch of humor in the casting, the role of Colline being assigned to the tallest member of the company, Norman Cordon, who ranges upward to 6 feet 5.

As Mimi, Mafalda Favero made felt at her first appearance an agreeable stage personality and a voice of more than ordinarily good quality. She was a little to reluctant to let Puccini's music speak in its own accents of pathos and in her otherwise able characterization of the grizette was an admixture of the soubrette that kept it from being quite straightforward and simple. It was consistent, however, and the Mimi of the last act was recognizably the Mimi of the first.

Review 2:

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

Mr. Björling's voice in its best manifestations is both warm and brilliant, and of a sonority which carries best, of course, when he does not tighten and when he has a good reservoir of breath under the tone. The middle part of the voice was unifornly the roundest and warmest last night. There were times when the upper tones became breathy and whitish.

This need not have been, and was probably consequent in part upon the sight of the great house, which often causes singers not used to the great auditorium to push unnecessarily. The sum of it was a tenor of ample tone and quality for the role, with a B-flat which rings and carries, and which by no means reached the summit of its development.

Miss Favero's voice is not a great one, but it is of a fresh and charming quality, with marked capacity for emotional expression. This was shown especially in her third act, which, as dramatically composed and interpreted by her, is the most moving third act of a Mimi that we have seen for many years in this theatre. In the first scene Miss Favero, not unnaturally, was feeling her way, but her intelligence and charm immediately affected the audience. She gave the figure of the seamstress personality, and at the same time kept it faithfully within the frame of the simplicity which is the keynote of the character. With her, as with Mr. Björling, earnestness and enthusiasm were delightful and compelling characteristics.

Miss Morel can sing brilliantly, and she has her vocal resources but she overdid her part, as most Musettas are inclined to do, and by this exaggeration lost some of the laughter and piquancy of the same. She made better effect with the little prayer at the last.

[Jussi Björling's last name was sometimes spelled Bjoerling.]

Photograph of Jussi Björling as Rodolfo by New York Times Studio.

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