[Met Performance] CID:149170

La Bohème
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, December 16, 1948

La Bohème (418)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa
Bidú Sayão

Jussi Björling

Mimi Benzell

John Brownlee

Hugh Thompson

Nicola Moscona

Melchiorre Luise

Anthony Marlowe

Lawrence Davidson

Giuseppe Antonicelli

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Blaschke & Cie

La Bohème received 16 performances this season.
A new set was designed by Joseph Novak for Acts I and IV.

Review 1:

Review of Noel Strauss in The New York Times

Puccini's "La Bohème" received its first presentation of the season last night at the Metropolitan. Given with a familiar cast, headed by Bidu Sayao as Mimi and Jussi Bjoerling as Rodolfo, the lovable work was performed in a laudably smooth and effective manner.

It is a long while since this reviewer has heard as convincing and impressive an account of the crucial first act of this opera. For the entire scene between Mimi and Rodolfo was projected with an amount of poetry, tenderness and ardor that made it uncommonly touching. Rarely are both the soprano and the tenor parts so sympathetically sung, and every word of the text so consistently accorded its due significance, as on this occasion.

Mr. Björling, who was in his best vocal form, made the most of his opportunities in the "Narrative," which was capped by a sustained high C of notable purity, power and beauty. All of his singing could be commended for its tonal perfection, expressiveness and warmth in a most satisfying and finely detailed portrayal, which easily carried off the honors of the evening.

He was ably seconded by Miss Sayao, whose impersonation of Murger's heroine was charming in its simplicity and grace. She invested her work with marked refinement and deep pathos, being genuinely sincere and moving in her first-act solo and in all of the other music allotted her. She and Mr. Björling were equally eloquent and stirring in their imaginative delivery of the first-act duet, which brought that division of the opera to a close in most telling fashion.

This scene between the two protagonists would have been still more worthy of remark had Giuseppe Antonicelli been less generous with his orchestral support, which often drowned out Miss Sayao's light lower tones, and was often too weighty in many other passages of the performance.

John Brownlee as Marcello, Nicola Moscona as Colline and Hugh Thompson as Schaunard were thoroughly competent in their respective roles, and with Mr. Björling made the proceedings of the quartet of Bohemians in the initial scene as comic as need be without a suspicion of the exaggerations which customarily make this [beginning] episode lose plausibility and seem over lengthy.

Melchiorre Luise proved capable in the buffo roles of Benoit and Alcindoro. But Mimi Benzell, the Musetta, was more to be praised for the spirited humor with which she acted her chief bit in the second act than for her ineffectual vocalism, her thin, brittle tones, inaudible in their lower reaches, being ill - suited to the difficult music she had to sing in this part of the work, where she had her chief chance.

A new set, painted and designed by Joseph Novak, was used in the first act. It seemed to have been made under the influence of the scenery used in this opera at the City Center by the New York City Opera Company, but, though serviceable, was in no wise an artistic achievement of importance.

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