[Met Tour] CID:124280

American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, December 13, 1938

Review 1:

Review of Edwin H. Schloss in the Philadelphia Record

MUSIC: Massenet's "Manon" Given Here by Met

For the first time here this season the Metropolitan Opera Association turned to the French repertoire last night in the Academy of Music, offering Massenet's "Manon" to a brilliant audience which occupied every seat in the house. "Manon" is one of the most Gallic of operas, both as to its dramatic background and the complexion of its score. As such it needs to be presented with a certain "esprit" and enameled elegance of style calculated to give the right patina of charm even to its tragic moments. And it was given just such a production last night to the great approval of Manager Johnson's customers in sartorial glory assembled.

Bidu Sayao Scores

Singing the title role and especially charming in the panniers and other brocaded 18th century elegancies of the part was the Met's petite Brazilian soprano, Bidu Sayao - looking like one of the best reasons for cultivating friendly relations with South America this reporter has seen in some time. Miss Sayao's voice is small, though engaging in quality and much the same can be said of her dramatic portrayal of the capricious, warm-hearted lady of fragile virtue whose role she essayed last night. She does not get deeply into the role, yet her Manon is charming, though she stays the fresh-cheeked country girl too long after she is launched in dubious Parisian society. Her singing of the famous "Adieu Notre Petite Table" of the second act, though quite captivating as a salon performance, left something to be desired in dramatic poignancy.

Crooks is Hero

In the "St. Suplice" scene of the third act, however, her emotional pitch was raised with fair adequacy and the singing was excellent. Playing opposite Miss Sayao last night and at all times a little ahead of her in brio was Richard Crooks singing Des Grieux with fresh and veteran aplomb. It is the part in which the former Trenton, New Jersey choir boy made his debut with the Metropolitan five years ago, and a part in which he has since become justly famous. His "Le Reve de Manon," key tenor aria of the opera, was beautifully negotiated and his performance everywhere vital, well styled and impressive, asking exemption only occasionally among the high notes with which Massenet has endowed the part with such great disregard for the comfort of most tenors. He was recalled for repeated acknowledgements during the evening as was, of course, Miss Sayao.

Others in Cast

Baritone Jon Brownlee was excellent as last night's Lescaut. Nicola Moscona, the Met's new Greek basso came bearing considerable gifts to the part of the elder Des Grieux. Natalie Bodanya, Maxine Stellman, Lucielle Browning, Alessio de Paolis, Max Altglass, Arnold Gabor and Gina Gola were all agreeably good in lesser parts. Wilfred Pelletier conducted with his usual taste and authority.

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