1909 Opera New York 20-02-1909

Fidelio February 20. 1909 43280

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun

“Manon” was sung at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday afternoon. Miss Farrar made her reappearance in the title rôle and continued to show evidences of the illness which she hoped to leave behind her in Lakewood. The youthful American soprano has not been in good condition all the season and has consequently not been able to do herself justice. Carl Jörn sang the Chevalier des Grieux and demonstrated pretty clearly that the part is well within his capacity, but a better estimate of his vocal treatment of it will be obtained when he has not been singing three times in three days.

Last night at the Broadway operatic institution Beethoven’s “Fidelio” was given. The excellence of last season’s production had not been forgotten and there was a good sized audience which applauded heartily. Of all operas still before this public “Fidelio,” which is 104 years of age, impresses most upon the casual hearer the antiquity of its musical manner. Yet, despite the archaic cut of its numbers, the profound sincerity of its music and the marvelous eloquence of its expression never fail to grip the heart of the unprejudiced hearer.

Beethoven, of all composers who ever wrote a music drama, was the least operatic. But this is by no means the same thing as saying that he was not dramatic. Every measure of “Fidelio” is dramatic, but it is not an easy work to sing. Familiarity with typical operatic styles serves the singers of this opera but little. Here they have to master new idioms and to teach their audiences without opportunity to resort to a single one of the devices which they have been accustomed to have at hand.

It is all the more fortunate, since this is the case, that Beethoven’s opera can be performed in a moving manner even when the vocal treatment is not technically perfect. Because of this last night’s interpretation did not fail to touch the audience, although Mme. Morena was not in her best voice and therefore did not sing her music as well as she can. But nevertheless her Leonora was a beautiful and heroic figure.

Mr. Burrian as Florestan, Mr. Goritz as Dom Pizzaro, Mr. Blass as Rocco, Mr. Reiss as Jacquino and Miss Fornia as Marceline were the other principals, and all earned commendation. The chorus of men in the first act sang admirably and also showed appreciation of the picture. The scenic attire of the opera was that seen last season. Mr. Mahler conducted the performance with the knowledge and affection which infused into last winter’s production so much of the true spirit of the wonderful score. The “Fidelio” overture was played before the opera, and the “Leonore” No. 3, before the third act.

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