[Met Performance] CID:152660

Gianni Schicchi
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, January 26, 1950

Debut : Paul Schöffler

Gianni Schicchi received three performances this season.
R. Strauss-O. Wilde/Lachmann
Gianni Schicchi received three performances this season.
Paul Schöffler's last name was sometimes spelled Schoeffler.

Review 1:

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times


Schoeffler Makes Bow With Company in Leading Role - 'Gianni Schicchi' Heard

There were two important new figures in the cast when "Salome" was given for the first time this season last night at the Metropolitan, One was Astrid Varnay's Salome, the part taken by her for the first time on this stage, The other was the debut as Jokanaan of Paul Schoeffler, a magnificent accomplishment.

The appearance of Miss Varnay, who had Elektra-fied the town-if we may be excused-by her wonderful performance in that opera given in concert form on a recent date, was eagerly awaited. She made a fine impression for the range and opulence of the voice, the color she gave her lines, the originality and thoughtfulness of her dramatic conception. But we doubt if her Salome would nearly measure to her Elektra if she could be in that part, also, on the stage.

Elektra is the grander, the more monumental role of the two, and the best suited to her style. Her representation of Salome moves too heavily, and needs more swiftness and mobility. Nor is it fortunately costumed, nor is the dance all that can be desired of this difficult moment in a very taxing impersonation.

Remarkable in Early Scenes

We found Miss Varnay most remarkable in the earlier scenes which she built up admirably in the interchanges with Jokanaan, now sensuous and pleading, now mocking, sinister, sardonic; including the moment of the prophet's descent into the cistern, and frenzy of her pantomime around the cistern, while the orchestra erupts like a volcano.

The eloquence of the later scenes was in the voice rather than action. The final apostrophe was sung superbly, with possibly more realism than was necessary in the mise en scène.

Mr. Schoeffler's Jokanaan was the best representation of this part that we have seen, For once the figure of the prophet, with the wild eyes and the few simple and grand gestures, was something else than an Indian figure in front of a cigar store or an athlete standing up for inspection and showing his muscles. This was fanaticism, nobility too. Mr. Schoeffler sang the music with a compelling sonority and significance, which is a particular compliment, since Jokanaan's lines are more pontifical than emotional.

The playing of the orchestra under Mr. Reiner was better than ever, If it sometimes overpowered Miss Varnay it is understandable, indeed almost unavoidable if the full meaning of the orchestra's commentary is to reach the listener. The opera is over-balanced in its orchestral part. It is a symphonic music-drama.

"Salome" was preceded by one of the best ensembles and most lively and finished interpretations, in the comedic spirit, that the Metropolitan gives. Baccaloni's Schicchi was the soul of the plot, droll in every look and gesture, sung with booming resonance, enunciated as clearly as it was pantomimed for the understanding of the audience. Mr. Baccaloni's short .....

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