[Met Performance] CID:132050

La Traviata
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, November 29, 1941 Matinee Broadcast

Debut : Jan Peerce

La Traviata (239)
Giuseppe Verdi | Francesco Maria Piave
Jarmila Novotna

Jan Peerce [Debut]

Lawrence Tibbett

Thelma Votipka

Alessio De Paolis

Baron Douphol
Arthur Kent

Marquis D'Obigny
George Cehanovsky

Dr. Grenvil
Louis D'Angelo

Helen Olheim

Monna Montes

Alexis Dolinoff

Leon Varkas

Ettore Panizza

Désiré Defrère

Jonel Jorgulesco

Laurent Novikoff

La Traviata received nine performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

A tragical event would have marred the pleasure of the audience, which attended an exceptionally interesting presentation of Verdi's "Traviata" yesterday afternoon in the Metropolitan Opera House, had those present known of the occurrence. It was the sudden death, little more than an hour before the curtain, of Gennaro Papi, who was to have led the performance.

Through many years this veteran of the Metropolitan had accumulated friends as well as admirers. He was by nature and experience particularly endowed to interpret an opera which he loved. It was fated otherwise. What the audience saw, and all that it knew until after the performance, was that Frank St. Leger took the orchestra through the performance of the National Anthem, after which Ettore Panizza, on a few minutes' notice, and of course without rehearsal, took the baton. Holding his forces firmly together, he gave a well-knit interpretation.

This occasion saw the Metropolitan debut of Jan Peerce as Alfredo, the first Metropolitan appearance this season of Lawrence Tibbet as Germont and, above all, the Violetta of Mme. Novotna.

Mme. Novotna's picture of the lost one has a fascinating distinction and sincerity, exceptional pathos and pervasive charm. She knows well that the bravura air of the first act was never intended by Verdi as a display of vocal pyrotechnics, but as revelation by means of ornamental song of the Violetta who concealed her waning strength, her disillusion and despair. Here, at the beginning, she makes plain the end, and she does it with an absence of professional tricks and a degree of good taste which are convincing as they are refreshing to the intelligence.

Draw down the house with "S'empre libera" ? It's been done a thousand times, and can be done if it is not executed half as artistically as Mme. Novotna delivered the passage yesterday.

Then there was the new Alfredo. Mr. Peerce's audience, whether present on the other side of the footlights, or in coast-to-coast places over the land, was delighted, and with good reason, by the appealing quality of his voice and his manner of using it. He had his full meed of applause.

Little more than this is customarily asked of the man who sings the lover's music. Yet he could be more than a stick on the stage. Probably on the occasion of his Metropolitan debut Mr. Peerce thought of about two things: the conductor, and his duty as a singer. Yet he appeared confident, cool, an Alfredo by no means as green or excited as the ardent young man of the beau monde of the Paris of the Fifties.

The last special consideration of the afternoon was suspense concerning Mr. Tibbett. Had he recovered from his vocal indisposition of some months, or would there be shortcomings in the heavy father's solo of the second act? Mr. Tibbett has still need to be very careful of his vocal resources, but he sang with much of the old manly resonance and color of the voice of the leading American baritone of his day, and he sang with still more assurance his few measures in the last scene. Let us pray that he does not again drive his voice unduly and that he gives it ample opportunity to come fully into its own. The audience warmly welcomed his return to the Metropolitan stage..

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