[Met Tour] CID:131650

Madama Butterfly
Ballet Divertissement
New Orleans, Louisiana, Mon, April 21, 1941

Madama Butterfly (258)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/ Giuseppe Giacosa
Licia Albanese

Charles Kullman

Irra Petina

Richard Bonelli

Alessio De Paolis

John Gurney

George Cehanovsky

Kate Pinkerton
Thelma Votipka

Wilfred Engelman

Ettore Panizza

Boris Romanoff

Music from "L'Arlesienne" suites by Georges Bizet
1. Overture
2. Gitane: Monna Montes, Corps de Ballet
3. Carillon: Ruthanna Boris, Grant Mouradoff, Corps de Ballet
4. Minuet: Monna Montes, Ruthanna Boris, Grant Mouradoff, Corps de Ballet
5. Farucca: Monna Montes, Grant Mauradoff
6. Farandole: Corps de Ballet

Conductor...............Wilfrid Pelletier
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Review 1:

Review of Cleveland Sessunis in the New Orleans Times-Picayune


Licia Albanese, Formerly of La Scala, Acclaimed in Leading Role

The performance of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," which opened the Metropolitan Opera Company's third spring season in New Orleans Monday night at the Municipal Auditorium, introduced to the city's operagoers an artist of exceptional vocal gifts in the leading role of one of the most popular music dramas in the repertoire.

The Metropolitan closes its series tonight with the presentation of "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "Pagliacci" in the traditional double bill production of these famous "operatic twins."

Licia Albanese, formerly of La Scala, made her New Orleans debut Monday night as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini's tale of tragic love and was acclaimed for a voice of singularly persuasive warmth and richness. Charles Kullman was the Pinkerton of the evening and deservedly shared in the audience's applause.

Miss Albanese's voice was even-textured, flexible, of ample power and range and was used most effectively in conveying the pathos of the opera's high dramatic moments. The emotional intensity of the great duet in Act One and of the famous aria, "One Fine Day" in Act Two, was projected by Miss Albanese with compelling vocal assurance and understanding.

In spite of these flashing moments of song, we did not find Miss Albanese's portrait of Cio-Cio-San very real. Her performance was that of an artist using a superlative voice with lyrical ease and effortless control to sing music that was in itself often passionately intense and often disarmingly simple and forthright. We felt that the singing was an end in itself and not a means of creating character by suggestion of contrasting moods and reactions. The singing was a revelation of genuine art, but the eagerly impetuous, hopeful and tragic Cio-Cio-San was not revealed.

Mr. Kullman, who also starred in the Metropolitan's two previous seasons here, sang with more positive authority than in his former appearance in the city. His voice is still not big, but as Pinkerton, he compassed the most taxing moments of his role without the forcing of tone noticeable before and his voice seemed generally more alive and satisfying than in past seasons. He was, furthermore, a very personable Pinkerton.

Richard Bonelli, as Sharpless, was in excellent voice and made the consul a sympathetic and convincing figure, a difficult job, and Irra Petina was a gentle and understanding Suzuki.

Dramatically considered, the Metropolitan's performance of "Butterfly" left this auditor giving most of his attention to its vocal qualities. We found the set for Act One, for instance, drab and heavy and rather stage worn, when it should have been bright and fresh to suggest the exciting atmosphere which prompted Pinkerton to romance and to offer contrast to the more somber overtones of the following acts.

The various moments of individual achievement did not coalesce into a continuously convincing dramatic whole. The production lacked tautness and cohesion, being divided into a series of grand moments separated by connecting links of rather casual action. Now Puccini had a unique sense of the theater and his music is superbly designed not only to point up each dramatic situation, but to heighten each detail in the gradual development of the story. The Metropolitan did not take advantage of the opportunities Puccini provided for the union of music and drama in conjuring up a genuinely moving emotional experience.

The performance will be remembered for its big moments, but even the power of the climactic moment was lessened by Miss Albanese's melodramatic activity after the fatal dagger thrust. Ettore Panizza conducted.

Preceding the opera, a ballet divertissement was danced by the Metropolitan's corps de ballet to Bizet's "L'Arlesienne Suite," with Monna Montes, Ruthanna Boris and Grant Mouradoff as stars. The ballet was pleasant and colorful and a painless way of presenting this particular music by Bizet.

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