[Met Tour] CID:128790

Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, Thu, April 18, 1940

Rigoletto (235)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Giuseppe De Luca

Lily Pons

Duke of Mantua
Charles Kullman

Helen Olheim

Norman Cordon

Louis D'Angelo

Giordano Paltrinieri

George Cehanovsky

Count Ceprano
Wilfred Engelman

Countess Ceprano
Maxine Stellman

Thelma Votipka

Edith Herlick

Gennaro Papi

Review 1:

Review of Ruth Carlton in the Dallas Journal

Novotna Is Sensation in Met's "La Traviata"

Czech Soprano's Performance Is Fitting Climax to Season Here

The surprise and climax of the Metropolitan Opera's four performances in Dallas came at the rising curtain on "La Traviata" Wednesday night with the first glimpse of Jarmila Novotna, a lovely picture in her hoop-skirted, white gown and with the [very first] phrases she sang. For what we had expected to be a routine performance of a florid, sentimental Verdi score became a dynamic, history-making event. Before the first 10 minutes were up it was evident why New York had termed this young Czech singer the greatest Violetta in 20 years. She has a glamorous, round soprano voice, capable of ripping through all the bravura passages of the first act with joyous freedom.

Lives Her Role

Jarmila Novotna is as lovely and fragile to look at as the description of the original Dumas heroine and to this role which has always sounded like a mere display piece for a prima donna, she by some witchery gives credibility. Cadenzas became little flirting laughs; those tricky staccatti were perfect but they were sobbed out. Not once did she stand in the traditional I-will-now-sing-an-aria pose. Every instant was filled with some business and always so gracefully done that we saw for ourselves why she is termed everywhere a singing actress.

Of musicianship there was nothing to add. Her phrasing was masterly and artistic, her shadings subtle but wide ranged, and her attacks are steady, sure-footed. To tell the outstanding things she did would be to take each section of the entire role and say that it suddenly seemed a sincere musical utterance, and not at the loss of one sparkle of brilliancy.

Occasionally a personality will step on a stage that is so strong it carried all the other characters in the upward sway of its sheer magnetism. Novotna did this. Nor did the excitement stop there - the entire audience responded as to an electric shock.

Martini Well Received

Mme. Novotna was fortunate to have as her leading man Nino Martini, who could vocally, visually and dramatically balance her Violetta. That Mr. Martini is a local favorite - he has appeared here in concert and films - was demonstrated by the ovation that greeted his entrance. That he deserves this favor was generously proved throughout the four acts. He was in splendid voice which means a flow of warm lyric, steady tenor singing of which the Met offers far too little.

Giorgio Germont was sung by John Brownlee, another audience favorite from last year's Met season. To complete a satisfying performance Dallas was fortunate to have him in the last important lead. Although his voice had not warmed up for the [beginning] belligerent statements, it was perfectly focused before the end of the scene and the "Di Provenza il mar" was resonant and flowing.

All of the minor characters, the chorus and ballet, seemed to rise to the gala spirit of the occasion. The orchestra directed by Gennaro Papi, played with precision and carefully molded its accompaniment to each singer.

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