[Met Tour] CID:156960

Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sun, May 6, 1951 Matinee

Review 1:

Review of John H. Harvey in the St. Paul Pioneer Press
Met’s “Faust” Not Up To Past Standards
The Metropolitan Opera Co. ended its Twin Cities visit Sunday afternoon in Northrop Memorial auditorium with a performance of Gounod’s “Faust.”
It was too bad that the leave-taking couldn’t have been more memorable, but this is an imperfect world, and this “Faust,” while not up to the standard of the other three productions the “Met” presented here, had considerable virtues, all musical.
However, to get the unpleasant duties out of the way first – the staging, by Desire Defrere, was generally inept and silly. Group movement was animated but cluttered, arbitrary and unnatural in the extreme, and the third act curtain tableau was pure calendar art. At the end of the Garden Scene (the Big Seduction), it appeared that Marguerite would have to come out of the window. Certainly there was no suggestion that Faust would get in.
It might have helped, of course, if either of the principals in this languid, aseptic wooing, Victoria de los Angeles and Giuseppe di Stefano, had some dramatic aptitude.
The Walpurgis Night scene with its ballet, which the Metropolitan Opera Co. restored to its production this year, provides a good, psychologically sound change of pace before the final prison scene. But Anthony Tudor’s choreography was a standard, undistinguished article, and the corps de ballet’s performance of it was, for the most part, clumsy, exception being made for Suzanne Ames and Zebra Nevins.
Miss de los Angeles sang the role of Marguerite with childish sweetness and simplicity. Hers is a beautiful voice, and her singing had exquisite shadings and colorations but little dramatic projection, except in the final, “Anges pura, anges radieux.” Certainly she is an artist of high caliber, but a young one, and perhaps dramatic gifts will develop later.
Mr. Di Stefano’s Faust was vocally fine and expressive and reasonably good in style. His production was beautifully clean and clear, and he brought down the house in “Salut demeure” with an amazing diminuendo on the high “C” from full voice to whisper.
From a dramatico-musical point of view, Cesare Siepi was head and shoulders above the others. He was physically, too. His Mephistopheles was commanding, menacing and strong throughout. His rich, clear bass voice, of even resonance throughout his range, was used with style and distinction. I would have liked an occasional lighter touch, but he may have been keying his performance to those of the tenor and soprano.
Frank Guarrera was excellent as Valentin. This young baritone with the fine voice and the vast enthusiasm for his work is constantly improving. The smaller parts were well done – Anne Bollinger as Siebel, Thelma Votipka as Marthe and Lawrence Davidson as Wagner.
Fausto Cleva’s conducting was one of the big bright spots of the afternoon. It was a joy to hear the bris tempi in the [first] act, then to hear the smooth transition into the relaxed atmosphere of the Garden Scene. The orchestra sounded its best Sunday afternoon, which is saying a lot because the musicians did beautifully all weekend.

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