[Met Tour] CID:149230

Il Trovatore
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, December 21, 1948

Il Trovatore (243)
Giuseppe Verdi | Salvatore Cammarano
Jussi Björling

Stella Roman

Count Di Luna
Frank Valentino

Cloe Elmo

Jerome Hines

Inge Manski

Anthony Marlowe

Lawrence Davidson

Emil Cooper

Review 1:

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin
Cloe Elmo Scores in Met’s “Trovatore”

The Metropolitan’s performance of “Trovatore” at the Academy of Music last night, was an attention-riveting occasion.

In view of the great success of last evening, it seems hard to understand why the Metropolitan hesitated for so many years to launch a Philadelphia “Trovatore.”

As far as can be ascertained, the company last gave Verdi’s fine old battle-horse some 30 years ago here with Muzio, Crimi and Zanelli – all dead now – and Margaret Matzenauer, who still is active as a teacher in New York.

Settings by Harry Horner, which replaced the old ones by Maria Sala in 1940, were on view here; both these and Mary Percy Schenck’s attractive costumes added much to the revitalization of the opera.

Outstanding success was undoubtedly the local debut of Cloe Elmo, a singing actress of tremendous vitality and power, in the role of Azucena.

After a dullish [first] scene it was this new singer who brought the evening suddenly to life with her compelling delivery of the narrative, “Condotra ell ‘era in ceppi.”

Mme. Elmo is not afraid to make her Azucena a hideous, groping old hag. She is uncompromising in presenting the part with utter truth and sincerity.

Even though she was guilty of some off-key singing and forced climaxes, her powerful, penetrating tones and searing diction swept everything before them like a storm.

Much of Mme. Elmo’s singing was beautiful; all of it was communicative to a degree. Her success with the audience was not to be questioned.

Jussi Bjoerling was new here as Manrico, a role that needs a heavier voice and a far more dramatic temperament. The Swedish tenor did some lovely singing, nevertheless. His tones were fresh, firm and sweet. Warmth and dramatic accent are not his, but his respect for the vocal line was admirable.

Mr. Bjoerling is not an actor at all. He just stands pleasantly around and delivers himself of a concert in costume. The “Ah, si ben mio” was beautifully sung, but a pitched-down “Di quella pira” hardly compared with memories of Caruso, Martinelli and Lauri-Volpi in tumultuous moments.

Francesco Valentino made an outstanding Count Di Luna. The “Il balen” was sung with a wealth of style and beautiful tone, and the role suits the baritone better than any this reviewer has heard him in.

Stella Roman, the Leonora, gave a very strange performance. Every color of the rainbow seemed lodged in her larynx, and she essayed every kind of production during the traversal of Verdi’s taxing arias. A succession of hollow, disconnected sounds would be followed by some ravishing high pianissimo, only to confuse and baffle the listener. Mme. Roman is truly a vocal paradox.

Jerome Hines was a sonorous Ferrando of towering presence. The young California basso was making his Philadelphia debut last night. He made a fine impression.

Emil Cooper gave a wonderfully fine performance, keeping the various arias, choruses and ensembles moving, and achieving enviable balance and clarity.

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