[Met Performance] CID:127400

La Gioconda
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, December 30, 1939 Matinee Broadcast

Debut : Rosa Rolland, Mary Sigler

La Gioconda (137)
Amilcare Ponchielli | Arrigo Boito
La Gioconda
Zinka Milanov

Giovanni Martinelli

Bruna Castagna

Carlo Morelli

Nicola Moscona

La Cieca
Anna Kaskas

Wilfred Engelman

Giordano Paltrinieri

Louis D'Angelo

Carlo Coscia

Rita Holzer

Sari Montague

Rosa Rolland [Debut]

Mary Sigler [Debut]

Ruthanna Boris

George Chaffee

Grant Mouradoff

Ettore Panizza

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Antonio Rovescalli

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Mathilde Castel-Bert

Boris Romanoff

La Gioconda received six performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

The Metropolitan Opera Association revived Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" yesterday afternoon. The opera excited enthusiasm which may astonish our modernists or Wagnerians, and which, as a matter of fact, somewhat astonished this reviewer when he experienced a similar reaction. For it is pretty old-hat opera, not for the musically hard-boiled or ultra-sophisticated. But the amplitude of the Italian melodies, the zest of the writing, and the patent acceptance by the composer of a weird and tumultuous plot which is absurd to us of today, but may not have been absurd to the people of the opera's period or to Ponchielli himself, entertain and titillate us. And it was of a piece-the old opera; old scenery, the strutting, posturing, and singing in the old-fashioned manner; and even if there are too few great singers.

One reason for the relish which attended the performance was the excellent reading of the score by Mr. Panizza, which proved again the sovereign importance of a vitalizing, controlling and comprehending individuality on the conductor's stand. Mr. Panizza has not done as much with more important operas on certain occasions. But the impression yesterday was of a score in which he believed and which he conducted in dead earnest.

The work is of the period when opera counted upon great singers. The most popular air in the piece, the "Cielo e mar," was sung and enunciated by Mr. Martinelli in such a way that there was of a truth the feeling of lapping waters, and shining moon that flooded earth and sky, and romance of the hour. The Italian composer, when inspired, has a way of accomplishing such moods with a few melodic phrases. As soon as the tenor had intoned his preliminary phrase the scene was before us, and would have been without backdrop or other scenic accessories,

Miss Milanov, the Gioconda, did certain genuinely dramatic things, as in the scene when she whispered to Laura, her rival, of the antidote which would protect her from the workings of Alvise's poison, and her conclusion of this passage. There were some very striking places in her performance, and further demonstration of a really glorious voice, and, also, too many proofs that the singer does not have mastery of her vocal resources. In places she sounded unexpected notes, or her intonation escaped the "beam," as the aeronauts would call it, of the true pitch-presumably the result of some poor breath support. It is a pity, for this is not merely a good voice, but a great one, handicapped by a half-baked technique and style.

Mr. Morelli's Barnaba was capable if not more, but Bruna Castgna's Laura Adorno had the advantage of her rich and sensuous voice, especially when she did not exaggerate in expression. Mr. Moscona sang the lines of Alvise with competence and authority. Miss Kaskas made an excellent Cieca, a small part which she enacted very intelligently and did not overdue. The chorus, which included boys' voices in the boat scene, sang well if not impeccably, and the choruses are a striking feature of "La Gioconda."

The house was packed for this performance.

Review 2:

Review signed "H" in Musical America

Milanov Sings in First "La Gioconda"

An excellent performance of Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" was given at the last Saturday matinee of the old year on Dec. 30. a large audience attending and applauding with enthusiasm throughout the afternoon. The performance was further notable on account of the first hearing here of Zinka Milanov in the name part.

Mme. Milanov made an impressive Gioconda and most of her singing was on a high plane. Certainly the voice itself is as fine a soprano as one often hears, but that its owner makes the best use of it cannot be said. If the focus of the high tone when soft, could only be maintained in the loud tones, what a high register this would be! The first act was especially well sung and the sustained high B-Flat on the exit, was excellent. "Suicidio", tonally excellent, suffered from some vagaries of tempo. Dramatically, Mme. Milanov was convincing and often gripping.

Mr. Martinelli was in excellent voice and held the audience spellbound during "Cielo e Mar," earning a furor of applause. His "Tu sei Morta" in the Finale to Act III, was also beautifully sung. Mme, Castagna's fine voice sounded admirable in Laura's interesting music, though one regretted the omission of the Prayer in the second act. Anna Kaskas won plaudits for "Voce di Donna" and Mr. Morelli sang Barnaba's music with the craft and unction it requires and Mr. Moscona was a sonorous Alvise.

Mr, Panizza conducted skillfully, though he occasionally gave the singers a trifle too much headway in the matter of tempo. The lovely "Dance of the Hours" showed good individual intention, but very bad timing and unimaginative choreography. It was, however, much applauded. Solo dancers were Ruthanna Boris, Grant Mouradoff and George Chaffee.

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