[Met Performance] CID:127990

Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, February 12, 1940

Review 1:

Review of Samuel Chotzinoff in the Post


That Puccini's "La Tosca" is still a drawing card with opera lovers was demonstrated last night when the audience that assembled for the performance of that lyric melodrama occupied all the seats and packed the standing room of the Metropolitan. Among those implicated in the performance were Dusolina Giannini, Giovanni Martinelli, Lawrence Tibbett, Norman Cordon, Louis d'Angelo, Alessio de Paolis, and, of course, Gennaro Papi, who conducted.

There was plenty of enthusiasm on the part of the spectators, and one wonders what effect a credible performance would have been on an audience. For last night's spectacle often approached burlesque and occasionally achieved it. If illusion be the breath of opera, only Mr. Tibbett and a few of the minor characters can be said to have contributed the necessary make-believe.

Mr. Tibbett's Scarpia is not as subtle an impersonation as it has certain to become in time. Yet it is a believable characterization by reason of its authority, force, elegance and decent vocalism. This Scarpia has toned down his seduction to a degree that no longer embarrasses the Tosca and the audience, but it has something to gain in wily innuendo and cynicism. Mr. d'Angelo is still a humorous and rather touching Sacristan and Mr. de Paolis a sinister Spoletta.

Not a Glamour Girl

Of Miss Giannini's Tosca it may be said that it is hardly the glamour girl of one's imagination. Curious in gesture, it is an overworked characterization which, through an excess of histrionic zeal, sometimes borders on parody. Miss Giannini's voice is strong and piercing, and most of her singing was innocent of those charms which music is reputed to have.

In melodramatic moments the soprano indulged in what the uneducated would term yelling. So, for that matter, did Mr. Martinelli, who (it simply must be faced) is no longer in the fortunate condition to lend credence to the lyric flights of Cavarodossi. I find it sad to relate that when Tosca and her lover joined forces in the third act unison duet, each cherished a strictly individual opinion on the important matter of pitch. I am happy to state, however, the Miss Giannini achieved both true pitch and beauty of tone in her final phrase, ere she made her fatal leap from the parapet of the Castle of St. Angelo.

Mr. Papi mistook "andantes" for "adagios" and caused the score to seem either lackadaisical or blatant. Perhaps it is unchivarous to recall "La Tosca" of other days, but what can one do when one is plagued by glorious memories? It is hard to believe that the Metropolitan cannot do better by Puccini than it did last night.

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