[Met Tour] CID:133430

Metropolitan Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts, Wed, March 25, 1942 Matinee

Review 1:

Review of Cyrus Durgin in the Boston Globe

Lily Djanel made her Boston debut and Sir Thomas Beecham did his first operatic conducting in this city at the Metropolitan Opera Association's matinee of "Carmen" yesterday. It was a very enjoyable "Carmen." Just as the worth of the Bizet masterpiece can be dimmed by mediocre presentations, so can a balanced performance like that of yesterday restore its freshness. The cordial applause of an audience that nearly filled the Metropolitan Theatre was merited.

Miss Djanel's Carmen is quite unusual because it is intelligent, psychologically reasonable, and theatrically effective. It is the most magnetic Carmen the town has seen since the late Conchita Supervia gave us her high-voltage impersonation 10 years ago. Miss Djanel is not so energetic as the Spanish Supervia, but hers is a more plausible and rounded characterization. The Djanel cigarette girl is not tough, she is simply a passionate, fickle girl, light of head and heart with a fierce temper beneath her gayety.

Like the performance in general, Miss Djanel improved musically as the afternoon went on. The Habanera was a little cool due in part to Sir Thomas Beecham's deliberate tempo. Yet throughout the scenes in Lillas Pastia's Inn and the mountain hideout, Miss Djanel sang warmly and expressively, and reached her highest intensity in the last encounter with Don Jose outside the bullring. Her voice is not a remarkable one. But it is pleasant and it is used with regard for Bizet style.

Sir Thomas Beecham is known as a conductor of high rank, symphonic and operatic. Boston had heard him only when he made guest appearances with the Boston Symphony in 1928. He has definite ideas about "Carmen," one of them choice if relatively slow tempi. He kept the orchestral volume down most of the afternoon and let us hear the full body and color of Bizet's music. One could easily make "Carmen" more exciting than Sir Thomas did merely by hastening the pace and keeping up dramatic tension. Without agreeing that the Beecham way is ideal, one must respect the consistency and the architectural build-up of his performance. The most dramatic spots were the conclusions of the third and fourth acts.

Licia Albanese is the best Micaela one has ever heard. Not only did she sing her long aria of the third act most beautifully, but here was a certain girlish lightness and humor in the way she sang and acted during the first scene.

Mr. Jobin's Don Jose, quite acceptable vocally, gained dramatic vitality from one act to the next. By the time he reached the end of Act 2 he was giving a vivid account of the tortured lover, and he maintained the tension through the final scene. Starting off quiet stiffly, Mr. Warren sang the Toreador's Song with poor sonority and phrasing, but subsequently did much better. The minor roles were fitted into the production very well, even if the Smuggler's Quintet was not quite lively enough. A good word is due to the ballet.

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