[Met Performance] CID:152300

Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, December 23, 1949

Faust (469)
Charles Gounod | Jules Barbier/Michel Carré
Giuseppe Di Stefano

Dorothy Kirsten

Italo Tajo

Leonard Warren

Inge Manski

Claramae Turner

Denis Harbour

Wilfred Pelletier

Désiré Defrère

Joseph Urban

Set Designer
Richard Rychtarik [Act I only]

Boris Romanoff

Faust received fourteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Irving Kolodin in the Sun

Kirsten and Di Stefano in “Faust”


In deference, perhaps to the Goethe year – it was certainly no honor to Gounod – the Metropolitan  brought forth its production of “Faust” last night, gave it a new cast and called it a revival. Some of it has potentialities – especially Giuseppe di Stefano as Faust and Dorothy Kirsten as Marguerite – but the clownish Mephistopheles of  Italo Tajo rather ruined the evening. The rival claques in the standing space helped no little.


Tajo is, in the first place, without the low voice required by the writing; and the sounds he produced when loud were gruff and when relatively pleasant, of not much audibility. What began with a suitable amount of satanic dignity progressed to a mixture of Gianni Schicchi and Don Basilio in which the cosmic stature of Mephistopheles dwindled to that of a corner trickster. As for the gross laughter which accompanied the embrace of Faust and Marguerite, and the indecent gesture with which he mocked their kiss, it couldn’t have  been in worse dramatic taste. Tajo’s size and bearing were promising for the part, but so much cape swirling, knee bending and attitudinizing together with the ludicrous garden scene – left this performance one thing, that directed by Desire Defrere another. They should become acquainted.


Miss Kirsten is, as ever, an embellishment of her part, every blond curl a Marguerite. The voice seemed paler than customary on this occasion, the garden scene airs without much contrast or brilliance. Further appraisal can wait for another time. Di Stefano, however, did much beautiful singing, also a good deal that was forced and white; but he is well disposed for the role, excellent in appearance and should gain poise as his acquaintance with the French text improves. Certainly he is the most promising Faust the house has had recently. To mention Leonard Warren as Valentin is to point directly to the evening’s only real fine singing. Inge Manski’s Siebel was without much vocal color, a little wandering in pitch and fluttery in action. Perhaps the bug “virus sopanis” is beginning to make its rounds. Denis Harbour was the able Wagner, Claramae Turner a superior Marthe. Wilfred Pelletier was present, stick in hand.

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