[Met Performance] CID:146400

Cavalleria Rusticana
Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, December 19, 1947

Debut : Giuseppe Valdengo

Cavalleria Rusticana received nine performances this season.
Pagliacci received nine performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


Wins Approval of Audience as "Pagliacci" is Offered at the Metropolitan

The return of "Pagliacci" last night to the repertory of the Metropolitan, with certain singers that the public was eager to hear, meant also the return of the good old double bill of "Cav" and "Pag," or "Ham and Eggs," as the pair of "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "I Pagliacci" are irreverently dubbed by fatigued coaches, assistant conductors and other workers back of the scenes, and also a line of ticket purchasers at the box-office window which stretched far around the corner before the curtain rose. This was one of the biggest audiences that the Metropolitan season, which has had big audiences, had as yet seen. And enormous applause and unexpected highlights and lowlights distinguished the occasion.

The highest light, the most piercing beams of public favor, fell upon Giuseppe Valdengo, then making his Metropolitan debut as Tonio, when he sang the Prologue. The beauty and resonance of the voice itself, in this place, coupled with the exceedingly dramatic delivery, brought shouts and salvos of approval, and definitely placed Mr. Valdengo, in this single moment, as an artist whose popularity with Metropolitan audiences is already established. His previous appearances at the City Center and with Mr. Toscanini at Radio City had indicated this. His Prologue more than fulfilled expectations.

The whole impersonation is effectively developed, the make-up, admirable. We could welcome a sharper edge and a more malignant dramatic profile in the scenes that follow. But this is finicky. If we had an opera company sprinkled with singers of the natural endowments and the high intelligence of this one, operatic production would not have to be as complicated a problem as most impresarios find it. Mr. Valdengo is an acquisition of high value to the Metropolitan.

By his side was the admirable Nedda of Licia Albanese. She sang to the birds, not only with brightness, but voluptuousness in the tone, as also in the scene with Silvio. The play within a play of the second act found her an admirable foil to the furious outbursts of Canio, in the harlequinade that so impressed the villagers by the earnestness of the actors, and the knifing that ended the comedy.

Raoul Jobin made much of Canio's role, Leslie Chabay of the minor part of Beppe, Hugh Thompson sang with authority and maturity, but he seemed ill at ease in the stage business of Silvio. Giuseppe Antonicelli conducted ably.

In the performance of "Cavalleria Rusticana," Frederick Jagel distinguished himself by his singing and acting as Turiddu, an effect achieved at a few hours notice, since it was only in the morning that Mr. Jagel had been notified that, on account of the illness of Mario Berini, a substitute was immediately required. The Metropolitan did not suffer by this substitution. The faithful, serious work and the experience of years had equipped Mr. Jagel to do what he did last night in "Cavalleria Rusticana."

As Santuzza, making her first appearance here in the role, Cloe Elmo was impressive on the dramatic side and again, despite a part which cannot lie well for such a genuinely deep voice, exceptionally capable of communicating emotion. Claramae Turner, admirably suited for the part, was the Lucia, Francesco Valentino, the Alfio, Martha Lipton, the Lola. The opera cannot be done ineffectively. The music is so passionate, fresh, explosive in the inimitably Sicilian style; music of genius, as Leoncavallo's music, at its poorest, is music irresistibly of the theatre. The return of the operatic twins to the Metropolitan repertory was very welcome - a welcome that does not wear with the seasons,

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