[Met Performance] CID:133050

Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, February 19, 1942

Review 1:

Review of staff critic "K" in Musical America

Kiepura Appears as Don Jose

Jan Kiepura returned after an absence of two years to sing the role of Don Jose in the third performance of "Carmen" this season, on the evening of Feb. 19. Another change from the earlier presentations was the appearance of Wilfred Pelletier on the podium in place of Sir Thomas Beecham. John Brownlee assumed the part of Escamillo, and Louis D'Angelo was heard as Zuniga. For the rest the production remained the same, with Lily Djanel singing and acting well as Carmen; Licia Albanese making the most of her pretty voice as Micaela ; and Thelma Votipka, Helen Olheim, George Cehanovsky, Alessio De Paolis and Arthur Kent contributing satisfactorily in minor roles.

Mr. Kiepura was at his vocal best, but the part is not suited to him. He was intense and when occasion afforded he sang with lyric beauty. The ease and smoothness of his scale, command of his top tones and relative power were good to hear in the house which has been so lacking in superior tenor voices in recent years. These qualities, combined with his natural charm and personableness, should have made an ideal Jose. Unfortunately Mr. Kiepura lost himself in the drama. He sobbed and sometimes yelled. Clear top tones were too often spoiled by glottis attack, and style was sacrificed to emotion. The tenor's stage technique seemed to take no notice of others on the stage and this lack of consideration often invalidated his sincere characterization. In the final act he was more successful both vocally and histrionically. And it must be reported that the large house was most enthusiastic.

Mr. Brownlee was badly miscast as the Toreador. His voice is not of the right color for the vital music. The baritone sang and acted conscientiously, frequently quite well, but the impersonation was lusterless. Mr. D'Angelo was excellent as Zuniga, both vocally and histrionically. There was power, humor and suavity in this officer and the music was effective.

Mr. Pelletier directed a completely uninspired orchestra in a routine manner, while the ballet accomplished little and that sloppily.

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