[Met Performance] CID:167720

La Bohème
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, January 20, 1955

Debut : Giuseppe Campora

La Bohème (508)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa
Dorothy Kirsten

Giuseppe Campora [Debut]

Jean Fenn

Ettore Bastianini

Clifford Harvuot

Nicola Moscona

Lawrence Davidson

Alessio De Paolis

James McCracken

Calvin Marsh

Fausto Cleva

Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Rolf Gérard

Stage Director
Dino Yannopoulos

La Bohème received ten performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Jay S. Harrison in the Herald Tribune

Campora is Rodolfo at Met in Season's first 'Boheme'

The season's first performance of Puccini's "La Boheme" Thursday at the Metropolitan Opera brought with it the New York debut of tenor Giuseppe Campora in the role of Rodolfo. For the occasion, he was surrounded by a familiar - though by no means jaded - cast that included Dorothy Kirsten as Mimi, Jean Fenn as Musetta, Ettore Bastianini as Marcello and Clifford Harvuot, Nicola Moscona, Lawrence Davidson and Alessio De Paolis. Fausto Cleva conducted the orchestra, and was in addition, thoroughly in charge of the events on stage.

To judge by a single hearing, Campora must be labeled a "reliable" artist, for all the good and bad that term connotes. He is discreet, moves easily, never resorts to histrionic sham. His voice, moreover, is pure, comfortably placed and its color is golden. Not for so much as a phrase did he struggle or strain or make ugly sounds. His entire rendition, in fact, told of sturdy schooling, considerable poise and that elusive and and definable quality dubbed theatrical charm.

No-Red-Hot Spark

What Mr. Campora lacks, however, is brilliance and the brand of red-hot spark that takes fire and illumines, thereby, all of the characters on stage. Nor, is his voice large and thrusting, an unfortunate circumstance that is in some measure softened by the innate poetry that cottons to his tones throughout their range. None the less, Mr. Campora is no model Bohemian. His portrayal wanted grandness of scope, amplitude of conception, and those elements of incandescence that make the hero's aria and ensembles a vital, memorable experience were not readily discovered. It is, of course, quite possible that this, his initial appearance at the Met, found the tenor not yet alerted to the acoustical hazards of the house. But the fact remains that his lines did not ring and soar as any proper Rodolfo's should.

The production as a whole bounced along with marked agility and spirit, Since she was last observed as Mimi, Miss Kirsten has grown immeasurably, and both her characterization and vocal disposition fit snugly into the composer's craftily calculated musical design. For her part, Miss Fenn did precisely what all distinguished Musettas must - stole the show in the second act through the beauty of her soprano and the fetching coquetry implied by every gesture and deed. The remaining participants were equally assured, equally joyous in pursuing Puccini's operatic whims, and their interpretations resulted in a whacking good rendition. Thus heard, "La Boheme" is as fresh as morning dew.

Review 2:

Review of Raymond Ericson in Musical America

Rarely, in a good many days and nights spent in the company of Puccini's bohemians, have I encountered a Rodolfo so implicitly believable as Giuseppe Campora's or a Mimì so deserving of compassion as Dorothy Kirsten's as these familiar roles were portrayed in the Metropolitan's first "La Bohème" of the season, on Jan. 20. Mr. Campora, a good-looking, unexpectedly tall young Italian, was making his first appearance in this country (his voice is already well known here on recordings and in the motion picture version of "Aida"), and he could scarcely have made a better first impression.

Mr. Campora is a musician and an artist to his fingertips. He revealed an uncommon knowledge of the art of song as it relates to opera, and he knew what he was singing about all of the time, so that it was possible for him to shape his phrases, place his accentuations, mezza voces, accelerandos, and diminuendos in perfect agreement with the poetic and dramatic demands of the moment. And he has a bodily grace and plastique that enable him to suit action to word with complete assurance and without the breathless hopping about and vociferous gesturing that usually passes for acting in this role. The quiet dignity of his demeanor apparently was infectious, and the result was a first act peopled by young men who might seriously be taken for aspiring craftsmen of the arts, rather than the mentally retarded adolescents they so frequently suggest. The voice is not remarkable in size but it has a lovely silvery quality, particularly at the top. It is produced with consummate ease throughout the range and unfailingly does its owner's bidding. Mr. Campora is an artist of the first rank, and it is a joy to welcome him to our shores.

Miss Kirsten has grown immeasurably in her portrayal of the Parisian gamine. Singing as beautifully and effortlessly as ever, she has now achieved a greater depth of feeling for the character as such, a more demure and more poignant sense of Mimì's shabby fate. Jean Fenn, looking rather more like a healthy American girl in Paris than a genuine "cocotte," nevertheless received, and earned, a storm of applause for her waltz song in the second act. Her voice seems to grow in brilliance and volume and in promise of things to come. Essaying Marcello for the first time here, Ettore Bastianini was a vocally opulent, ever-convincing Marcello. He too brought a kind of dignity to his part that gave it more than the usual dramatic veracity.

The skilled and demanding hand or Fausto Cleva was evident throughout this exhilarating performance. He conducted everything, and everyone, with fastidious care, but with a resilience that took into account the necessary elasticity of the set pieces. The lesser roles were filled with distinction by Nicola Moscona, Clifford Harvuot, Lawrence Davidson, James McCracken, Alessio De Paolis and Calvin Marsh.

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