[Met Tour] CID:131450

Cavalleria Rusticana
Metropolitan Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts, Sat, March 29, 1941

Review 1:

Review of Rudolph Elie Jr. in the Boston Herald

For those who have to rack a brain in order to find something new to say about a couple of operas which have long since had the last word expended on them, Giovanni Martinelli came last night like a shining knight on a white charger to the rescue. His acting, his singing and his magnificent stage presence glued one's attention to the lurid tale of broken hearts and bloody vengeance which is as familiar to an opera-goer as the people in the next seats who always come in late.

For all his 28 seasons with the Metropolitan the venerable tenor is as vital and commanding as he was the day he made his first triumph. His vocal instrument shows the wear of time a little, the high notes are occasionally forced and uneven and there is some insecurity in the low tones, but no matter. The sheer authority of his presence and the emotional intensity of his portrayal more than make up for any diminution of his vocal quality. His conception and execution of the pitiful central role of "Pagliacci" was nothing short of a personal and artistic triumph.

Although Martinelli's characterization was of sufficient caliber to humble the ordinary supporting cast, the fact was it rose to his level as though pulled up by the heels. Another one of those last minute changes in the cast replaced Richard Bonelli with Francesco Valentino in the role of the twisted, vicious Tonio. Mr. Valentino gave a very good accounting of himself, proving to have full, competent voice and a distinct feeling for the stage. Helen Jepson, assured in the part of the faithless wench, gave a well-voiced and convincing impersonation. John Dudley and George Cehanovsky sang competently, although neither of them seemed to have sufficient carrying power.

The large choral group must come up for a word of praise for its work in both places. It's not often that it creates an illusion of anything but lethargy, but last night it was on its toes vocally and dramatically. Its attacks were precise and its tones balanced and of fine quality. Fausto Cleva has done a good job as chorus master.

Compared with "Pagliacci," the inevitable running mate "Cavalleria Rusticana" was something of an also ran. It is a one-man opera, or rather, a one woman opera. Stella Roman, who sang the principal role, is possessed of a rich, colorful and always interesting voice. Secure in pitch, fully in control and capable of considerable dynamic variation, Mme. Roman fell short of projecting the passionate, terrified Santuzza. She plays outside the role, seemingly preoccupied with the technicalities. That's plenty to be preoccupied with you may be quite sure, but she overdoes it a little and the characterization drops. When she forgot herself in the part she was excellent; when she did not she was theatrical. Others in the cast, notably Frederick Jagel as Turiddu and Anna Kaskas as Lola deserve more comment than they can be spared here, for a final word must go to the orchestra which was admirably unified and sonorous, and to Gennaro Papi, who conducted both operas with devotion and elasticity. The audience was very cordial and, judging by its remarks during the intervals, impressed with the acoustics of the Metropolitan Theater.

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Search by title: Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci,

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