Monday, November 16, 2009

One moment in time...

In celebration of National Opera Week, here are a couple of moments in time for you:

On this day in 1908, Arturo Toscanini made his MET debut conducting Aida. It was opening night of that season with Louise Homer as Amneris and Enrico Caruso as Radamès. Also making her debut that night was Czech soprano Emmy Destinn as Aida. Born Ema Destinnová in Prague, Destinn [R.] went on to sing the US premiere of D'Albert's Tiefland a week after her debut. She would continue to sing at the MET regularly until her final performance with the company on December 27th 1920. The General Manager at that time was Giulio Gatti-Casazza.

Another US premiere happened on this day - this one in 1926. Puccini's last opera Turandot premiered with Maria Jeritza in the title role. The Calàf was Giacomo Lauri-Volpi with Martha Attwood making her debut as Liù.

The New York Times' review said in part:
The production invites more commendation than the music. The music has certain interesting features, but they are not those that inhere in a score of significantly creative or emotional quality. The progress of this-where any progress is shown-is technical or theatrical, but it is not the progress of inspiration or power, The opera, as always has been the case with the composer, owes much to its book. The development of the story is rapid, the episodes are short; the audience is assailed immediately the curtain rises, knocked breathless, as it were, by the scene and by the chorus-one of the best pages of the work-and before there is opportunity for consideration or criticism the scene is changed with another bewildering vista of color and Far East fantasy on the part of (Set Designer Joseph) Urban...

...The audience was exceptionally demonstrative. Applause repeatedly interrupted the progress of the opera. Curtain calls were more than will be numbered here. There was every feature of a triumph. The American premiere of
Turandot was in fact a triumph of the occasion and of the opera company which had so lavishly mounted a work of qualities various. It was a triumph which may repeat itself some five or six more times this season. But a second season, if it should occur with Turandot, would tell another story.
As a matter of fact, Turandot ran for 12 performances that season.

Link: Facts and photos provided by the MET Opera Database.

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