[Met Performance] CID:128380

Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, March 12, 1940

Rigoletto (234)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Giuseppe De Luca

Lily Pons

Duke of Mantua
Charles Kullman

Anna Kaskas

Virgilio Lazzari

Norman Cordon

Giordano Paltrinieri

George Cehanovsky

Count Ceprano
Wilfred Engelman

Countess Ceprano
Maxine Stellman

Thelma Votipka

Edith Herlick

Gennaro Papi

Review 1:

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

De Luca in a Famous Role

The title role of Verdi's "Rigoletto," with which Giuseppe De Luca had long been identified at the Metropolitan Opera House, was interpreted by the admirable Roman baritone for the first time in five years last night in the season's fourth and final performance of this perennial lyric tragedy. The reappearance of Lily Pons after an absence of several weeks was another factor in the attraction of a capacity audience, which would have undoubtedly have been much larger if the theater had been made of more expandable material. With all the standing room thickly populated, the patronage must have been gratifying to the directors of the philanthropic beneficiary of the evening, the Free Milk Fund for Babies, Inc.

Mr. De Luca's singing, as exhibited on this occasion, told of a singularly time-defying quality, thanks to his exceptional knowledge of all the musical aspects of his art. His mastery of vocal production and style were impressively demonstrated in the beauty and fluency of his tone, his thorough command of phrase and vocal line. His performance provided a memorable illustration, well worthy of study by younger artists of the complete and most effective employing of a singing actor's vocal resources. An important factor in this notable general result was his entire control of volume and dynamic proportion, his realization of the fact that climax and contrast are a matter of relative sonority of a particular phrase as compared with its neighboring measures, rather than the absolute vocal energy summoned for the notes in question. But the listener seldom received an impression of conscious care or economy of vocal powers during a constant realization of the artistry of this interpretation.

As in former days Mr. De Luca's impersonation of the tragic jester was vividly dramatic for both the eye and the ear. His voice has lost none of its capacity as a sensitive medium of emotional color in the expression of the wide gamut of feeling required for one of the great roles of Italian opera. There was memorable tenderness in his tones in his scene with Gilda in the second act; ineffable scorn as well as wrath in his denunciation of the courtiers in the third. Histrionically his realization of Rigoletto was also complete and many sided, as the confident mocker, the solicitous father, or as the intent seeker of vengeance.

Mme. Pons, who also was the subject of prolonged and fervent acclaim, was in good voice after a not particularly promising start, and presented the unscheduled, but customary top notes of 'Caro nome" with a clear and well-focused tone. Her Gilda is dramatically appealing, without achieving the thorough sense of identification which marks Mr. De Luca's interpretation. This, however, sets an exacting standard. Charles Kullman made the Duke a pleasing, if slightly too meritorious character; his tones were clear and well produced when the music did not carry him above his most effective vocal range.

Miss Kaskas and Mr. Lazzari gave commendably well routined interpretations. Giovanna's few measures were unusually well sung by Miss Votipka, who made the brief role much less colorless than it is often represented. Mr. Cordon sang well as Monterone. The orchestra did satisfactory work under Mr. Papi's leadership. Some renovation of the scenery might be an early item in the improvement program which is to follow completion of the Metropolitan's campaign fund.

Search by season: 1939-40

Search by title: Rigoletto,

Met careers