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17 July, 2006

Turandot in Sydney. Third time lucky (and unlucky!)

Sydney Opera House

Friday July 14 2006

TurandotJennifer Wilson
LiuHye Seoung Kwon
CalafDongwon Shin
PingJohn Pringle
PangHenry Choo
PongKanen Breen
ConductorPatrick Summers
ProductionGraeme Murphy
DesignerKristian Fredrikson

Dear Colleagues,

After two less-than-satisfactory starts to the winter season (Lakmé and Clemenza di Tito) this Turandot was a night to remember for many reasons. It was a rainy, miserable night but all the finery was out for this show. Opera boss Adrian Collette announced the difficulties of replacing Dennis O'Neill at 3 days notice with Mr Shin flown in from America only the day before and singing without a rehearsal (and without a central stage prompter!). One wonders what would have happened if there was 3 hours notice of illness which occasionally occurs in the theatre.

This performance warmed up with each act improving on the last and a final triumph of voice, melody, movement, colour and drama of which I believe the composer would have been delighted.

Ms Wilson sang creditably. She had all the notes and was dramatic and exciting. Her 'In questa reggia' was a tour-de-force.

alt="Old poster of a long ago performance of Turandot" />

Mr Shin sang well but seemed under-powered initially, especially in the lower range. He rose to the occasion for 'Nessun dorma', ending on a magnificent high cadence which seemed to go on forever, loudly applauded, but without a musical break. His acting was slightly stiff but one must make allowances as he had never rehearsed this production. He sang the role at Santa Fe, along with many other major roles in minor houses in the US.

Ms Kwon made an excellent Liu, receiving a huge ovation at the end. The Korean ambassador had travelled from Canberra for the occasion with two of his citizens in the operatic lime light.

Mr Murphy's production is a masterpiece of colour and movement. He uses waving ribbons on sticks, extended hands, crowd 'rolls', shadows and many other 'tricks' to move the action along. His genius makes Ping Pang and Pong's scenes bearable and now, subtitles inform us that their 'chatter' could make a good episode of 'Yes Minister'. The opera chorus performed many synchronised stage feats in addition to their fine ensemble singing, as did the children's chorus.

Patrick Summers' conducting was animated, bringing tension, beauty and volume from members of the Opera and Ballet Orchestra. He got straight into the opera without delay or ceremony, receiving huge and appreciative applause at appropriate times. Summers was let down on a couple of minor occasions in the first and last acts with some brass glitches but with an excellent overall effect.

Jud Arthur was well cast this time as Timur, a role well within his substantial abilities. Henry Choo, Kanen Breen and John Pringle played 3 fine public servants while Shane Lowrencev opened the piece as an adequate town crier.

One hopes that the season will settle down, Mr O'Neill will regain his health and that as many Sydney-siders as possible will be able to witness this marvellous spectacle over the next month or so.

Comments by Andrew Byrne ..

The Melba - JC Williamson Tour of 1928

alt="Front page Sydney Morning Herald 1928" />
Sydney Morning Herald

Dear Colleagues,

When renovating my doctor's office I came upon some old Sydney newspapers.

Imagine my surprise in finding a series of opera reviews from 1928! This was a visit from an Italian company in collaboration with the Melba - JC Williamson Company. Some were printed the day after the performance, something which rarely happens these days. Also, reviews were anonymous then, yet these are opinionated, reflecting some interesting mores of the day. This was not a travelling company of 'unknowns'!

I am grateful for some details kindly provided by Bob Rideout of the USA:

I read with a great deal of interest Andrew Byrne's posting on the 1928 tour. I'll fill in some of the gaps for those who may be interested.

The roster included Giannina Arangi Lombardi, Tot Dal Monte, Hina Spani, Lina Scavizzi, Xenia Belmas, Giuseppina Zinetti, Angelo Minghetti, Francesco Merli, Enzo di Muro Lomanto, Apollo Granforte, Luigi Rossi Morelli, Fernando Autori, and the father of Loretta Corelli, Umberto Di Lelio. There were others but those were the names that you might easily know.

Nellie Melba sang with the company several times and made her final "final" operatic farewell on 2 October 1928 when she appeared at Adelaide in the last three acts of "La Boheme" with Mighetti, and closed the book with the "Salce" and "Ave Maria" from "Otello".

Xenia Belmas, a singer whose name will be known to some of you, was scheduled for a good number of performances, but somewhere along the way, Arangi Lombardi replaced her as Santuzza, and Belmas ended up singing a few concerts, divorced from the main company during the major portion of its stay. It was termed an "Italian Conspiracy" and caused a great deal of fuss, as did the replacement of John Brownlee, who had sung a few performances at the beginning of the season, with Apollo Granforte in "Pagliacci" and "Aida".

It was a very successful tour, but there was a lot of bad press about those and other intrigues. Dal Monte saw to it that fairly early on both Minghetti and Granforte were booted from her performances of "Rigoletto" and it was only near the end of the tour at Perth and Adelaide that they resumed their original assignments. Midway in the tour, Dal Monte and De Muro Lomanto were married at St, Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, and Arangi Lombardi, who was Dal Monte's maid of honour, sang an Ave Maria by Mercadante, 'exquisitely', said the press. At the service's conclusion, the wedding party gave the Fascist salute on the cathedral steps. Photographers had a "field day" and the story made headlines throughout the continent, and beyond.

I would imagine that the most important event on the tour was the Australian premiere of "Turandot" with Arangi and Merli. They received rave notices througout the season though the opera was treated somewhat less kindly.

In any case, the tour remains one of the most famous events in the history of opera "Down Under", or, "Opera for the Antipodes" as a wonderful reference work by Alison Gyger would have it.

Dates of Melba-Williamson season:

  • Turnadot

  • Fille was the second night of season (Mon 9th July) and review appeared in next day's paper.

  • next night was Thais.

  • Saturday 21st July night was Butterfly and review Mon 23 SMH.

  • Wednesday matinee? Trovatore Sat Aug 25th, review on 27th SMH.

  • Mon 27th was Hoffmann.

  • Tues 28th was Turandot.

  • Wed 29th August matinee Hoffmann; night: Manon Lescaut;

  • Thursday 30th 1928 Il Trovatore;

  • Friday 31st Rigoletto;

  • Sat 1 September matinee: Hoffmann; evening: L'Amore Dei Tre Re.

Monday 27th August

The cast of to-night's performance of "Tales of Hoffmann" at Her Majesty's Theatre includes Toti Dal Monte, Enzo de Muro Lomanto, Apollo Granforte, Aurora Rettore, Giuseppi Satariarno, and Luisa Banetti.

Coming performances

To-morrow night: "Turandot" will be presented. The management announced this as the last evening performance of the opera. On Wednesday afternoon, the opera is "Tales of Hoffmann;" on Wednesday night, "Manon. Lescaut;" on Thursday night, "Il Trovatore;" on Friday, "Rigoletto:" and on Saturday afternoon, "Tales of Hoffmann." Next Saturday night, Montemezzi's romantic opera, "L'Amore Dei Tre Re" will be presented for the first time in Sydney.

Newtown Majestic

"THE ROBBERS" The enterprise of Mr. Alfred Gordon Kalmikoff in producing for the first time in Sydney Schiller's great drama "The Robbers" at the Majestic Theatre, Newtown, was rewarded on Saturday by large audiences at both the matinee and evening performances. 'The Robbers' is a play so full of conflicting emotions that if cannot fail to have a strong appeal.

The plot, which centres around the family of the aged Count Maimilian, portrays the most different in character between the count's two sons, Charles and Francis. The latter wishing to get his elder brother disinherited, intercepts a letter which Charles has written to his father pleading for forgiveness, and reads a forged letter to the Count, making it appear that it was sent by an old friend giving instances of Charles' misdeeds. The count, broken-hearted, asks Francis to send a firm letter to Charles, but not to drive him to despair. Francis, on the contrary, writes that his father had cursed him, and does not want to see him any more: Charles, broken hearted, becomes the chief of a band of robbers.

The part of Francis was taken by Mr Kalmikoff, who in that difficult role found plenty of scope to show his versatility. His interpretation was perfect, and be invested the character with an impressive realism that *pleased* the audience. He achieved a <snip>

'Sepia' reviews of
Fille du Regiment and
Butterfly were transcribed manually by Andrew Byrne. Note there were also several items under the heading: "Story of Tonight's Opera", including Thais, Tales of Hoffmann and others.

I am grateful for some details kindly provided by Bob Rideout of the USA.

13 July, 2006

Grand Opera - Il Trovatore - Old review from roaring 20's in Sydney town

"Il Trovatore" at Her Majesty's Theatre

Saturday 25th August 1928

"Il Trovatore" is the most tuneful of all Verdi's scores - some say the most tuneful in all Italian opera - but it is also the most thinly orchestrated. To modern ears, accustomed to the rich harmonic backgrounds and counter-melodies of Puccini and Wagner, or even to the later Verdi, exemplified in "Aida," the perfunctory vampings on the harp and broken chords on the violins pianissimo that accompany some of the stormy arias in "Il Trovatore" must perforce seem hopelessly insipid. In this opera Verdi has thrown almost all the responsibility for emotional effect upon the voices. The vocal line, pure and unadorned, must portray the feeling that lies behind the dialogue. That it usually does this very vividly is a sign of the inherent genius in the composer which was to find fuller expression later in "Otello" and "Falstaff." But this fact makes it important that the opera should be beautifully sung. In more complex works, even if the singers be indifferent, the orchestration will often of itself keep interest at a high pitch; but in "Il Trovatore" indifferent singing means disaster.

It is needless to say, considering the standard of the present Melba - J. C. Williamson company as shown in earlier productions of the season, that Saturday night's singing at Her Majesty's Theatre was far from indifferent. Indeed, it was superb. The old, well-worn arias like "Stride la vampa" and "Tacea la notte" took on new beauties, so that one listened to them as to things possessing all the warm freshness of youth. The singers had to respond again and again to surging applause, not only at the end of each act, but during the progress of the opera as well. In later examples of opera it is often disconcerting when the conductor has to stand with poised baton while the vocalist bows to the audience: but on Saturday night Signora Arangi Lombardi in the role of Leonora, walked across to the footlights from the porch on the right (whither Leonora had retreated after the last notes of "Tacea la notte"), bowed again and again, and went back to the porch in order that she might descry the Count di Luna in the shadows, without the audience feeling that there was anything at all amiss. The plot of "II Trovatore," with all its blood and thunder, never gives the slightest illusion if reality; and, after all, it is only the braking of an illusion that makes objectionable an actor's response to his audience's acclaim. The opera amounts to little more than a series of arias threaded together like beads on a string.

The role of Leonora showed Lombardi to her admirers in a new light. Hitherto, they have heard her in heavier dramatic roles. It was a wonderful tribute to her art that the voice which rang out so triumphantly in "Aida" and in "Turandot" could adapt itself on Saturday night to the style of the earlier Verdi which, while it has its dramatic moments is predominantly florid and fluid. She reached her highest peak of achievement in the first scene of the last act, in the aria "D'amor sull ali rosee." Radiant and pure, her voice soared up to some of the most exquisite pianissimos imaginable on the high notes. Once again the sympathetic warmth of her tone in all parts of the range, and the repose with which she produces were there constantly to delight the audience. It was no wonder that applause burst forth with a tremendous crash when she had finished. The clapping was much more vigorous here than after the 'Miserere' immediately following which calls forth its need of enthusiasm because of the very familiarity of the music. But if "D'amor sul ali rosee" proved Lombardi's artistic triumph, it was not so surprising from a technical point of view as the later solo, "Mira d'acerbe lagrime" wherein she adapted her voice admirably to the demands of the swift ascending and descending phrases, which call for a coloratura rather than a dramatic soprano.

The tenor role of Manrico was sung by Francesco Merli. He invested it with a robustness of voice and of bearing that could not fail to be appealing. In the duet with Leonora, near the end of the third act, and in Manrico's exhortation of his soldiers which brings that act to so spirited a close his quality was particularly fine. The highest notes rang forth with a clear overtone, powerful yet unforced. Apollo Granforte, also, as the Count di Luna interpreted with authority. His solo "Il Balen," in the cloister scene, alternated between a full, commanding, and resonantly warm tone and tender phrases in pianissimo that won admiration from the audience for their exquisite emotional value and for the control over production which they betokened. The beautifully judged proportion in this reading commended itself to the audience, so that applause was loud and long.

Guiseppina Zinetti, as the turbulent gipsy Azucena, sang with a great deal of fire, especially in "Stride la vampa," and the following declamation. The acting, also, was strongly dramatic too. The rolling of the eyes, as of a wild animal at bay', when Azucena was captured and questioned by di Luna, gave the scene of the encampment a touch of tragedy that surpassed any supplied by the music. Fernando Autori sang freely and impressively the long narrative allotted to Ferrando in the opening scene; Ida Mannarini made a satisfactory Ines, and Lulgi Parodi sang the two small parts of a messenger and soldier.

As the opera season goes on it becomes superfluous to call attention to the excellent work of the chorus. Even such a hurdygurdy-like melody as that which opens the third act of "Il Trovatore" became lively and interesting as these choristers sang it on Saturday night. In the cloister scene there was an exquisite contrast between the martial tones of the male chorus on the stage (albeit this chorus sang very softly) and the ethereal floating chant of female voices that drifted on from behind the scenes.

Signor Antonio Fugazzola conducted the orchestra. He did all that could he done with Verdi's tenuous score. The climaxes were always crisp and vigorous; the conventional accompaniments always suave and flowing.

As far as the settings were concerned: one of them deserves special praise, as the most tenderly beautiful of any that have been seen during the present season. It was that for the Miserere scene. Across the battlements there for the Miserere scene there appeared on the right a long wing of the palace, and on the left an entrancing view of a river winding its way into the distance in gleaming silvery curves, beneath the light of the moon. It was the lighting of this scene that rendered it so effective. The part played by electricians in the staging of an opera is not often enough recognised.

The Attendance

More than half the eight scenes of "Il Trovatore" are enacted in the deep purple shadows of the convent cloister, the ante-room of the palace, and the prison cell, so that the onlooker's eye had to become accustomed to the dim half-light, in which Signora Lombardi's diamonds and the beading on her robes, catching an occasional ray of light, flashed back and provided the only gleam. There was vivid contrast between these scenes and those of gypsy camp and of the camp of the Count di Luna. The scarlet handkerchiefs, skirts and gaudy trinkets of the gipsy girls and the shining helmets of the soldiers seemed all the brighter after the gloomy preceding scenes. Arangi Lombardi, whose husband, Signor Arangi, watched her performance from the dress circle, wore several gorgeous gowns made in the long-trained fashion of the fifteenth century. The most beautiful of them was her wedding gown in the third act. Of white satin richly stamped in a golden coral pattern, it was almost covered with a long white veil, caught in her head with a quaint coronet with upstanding wings of gold. The dull red of Merli's wedding garments, and the vivid scarlet of the brocaded curtains at the back of the stage, made a perfect setting for her white an gold gown. Granforte as the Count di Luna was even more gorgeously arrayed, and Zanetti wore for her gypsy dress some beautiful hand woven clothes patterned in striking colours, which she had brought with her from Italy.

Lina Scavizzi was among the audience in the dress circle. Judge and Mrs Heydon occupied one box, and Dr and Mrs Donald Finlay and Mr and Mrs Mervyn Finlay were in the other. Others in the audience were the Misses Sheldon (2), Sir Hugh and Lady Denison, Mr and Mrs Sep Levy, Mr and Mrs R. E. Denison, Mr and Mrs Spenser Brunton, Miss Jessie Tait, Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Davy, Mrs S Hordern, Mrs. Woolf (Perth), Mr Henry Braddon, Judge and Mrs. James, Mr and Mrs Dennis Allen, Mrs Leo Quick, Dr and Mrs Harry Harris, Miss Nell Cobcroft, Dr and Mrs Herbert Marks, Mrs Spencer Watts, Mrs. R. M. Sly, Mrs. W. F. Foster, Mrs. W. A. Dettman, Miss N. Garvan, Mr and Mrs. Norman Pope, Mrs C. Kingston (Melbourne), Dr and Mrs Crawford Robertson, Mr and Mrs A. Nathan, Dr and Mrs. H. Clayton, Mrs Hugh Ward, Mr and Mrs. Kelso King, Mrs. W. Malden, the consul for Italy and Donna Grossardt, Mrs T. Hogan, Mrs Hartley D'argent, Dr and Mrs Godsall.

Review found in The Sydney Morning Herald Monday August 27 1928

This is one of three reviews of the Melba - Williamson Tour of 1928 discovered under Dr.Byrnes surgery floor during renovations.

10 July, 2006

Grand Opera - Madame Butterfly - Emotional Acting and Singing

"Madame Butterfly" at Her Majesty's Theatre

Saturday 21st July 1928

Puccini's rich vein of melody in "Madame Butterfly" charmed a great house at Her Majesty's Theatre on Saturday night. The music of this opera, of extremely emotional and yet so graceful, with voices and orchestra blended in eloquent harmonies, is among the most popular as well as the most attractive written by the composer, and Saturday night's fine cast gave admirable expression to its moods, particularly in the famous love duet of Butterfly and Pinkerton at the close of the first act, and the last tragic scene of all, in which the Japanese girl's realisation of her base desertion by Pinkerton leads to her death. Signor Pugazzola, who conducted, showed pronounced temperament, for though in parts of the first act and on occasions in the second his tempos were rather studied, and the orchestra was now and then too loud for the singers, he gave an admirably animated and sincere reading of the principal events of the second act, and of the poignant final scenes of the opera.

Senorita Hina Spani sounded the true note of tragedy in these last scenes. While the artist was mature in the role of Butterfly, one completely forgot this fact in the power and beauty of her acting and singing. Surely the closing moments of the hapless Butterfly's life have never been portrayed with greater pathos or conviction. It was a singular and moving interpretation, and distinguished at the same time for perfect artistic restraint. All concerned in the events immediately leading up to this climax furnished worthy support to the heroine, and Signor Angelo Minghetti's cry of bitter remorse as Pinkerton rushed in upon the tragedy as the curtain fell, was very real. Many recalls here and after the previous acts marked a high note of enthusiasm on the part of the audience.

Signor Minghetti's Pinkerton was marked for the most part by the well-judged fervour which has distinguished the artist's studies of character this season. He was rather too serious in the first part of the opera, however, and his reading of "Dovunque al mondo" missed the care-free spirit of this solo, so curiously interrupted by the naval officer's invitation to his friend Sharpless to have a drink. Pinkerton at this point, regarding the whole business of the Japanese marriage as a mere adventure, is toasting the day on which he shall wed an American wife. Signor Minghetti, on the other hand, appeared rather concerned, and even worried, his demeanour implying that Pinkerton was already ashamed of the cowardly plan upon which he had embarked, in which "the frail wings of Butterfly" were to be broken. Except for this, be gave an excellent study of the role, and his acting in the last scene was brilliant.

The celebrated love duet which forms the climax to the first act, following the marriage celebration, was magnificently sung by Senorita Spani and Signor Minghetti. Beginning with the tenor's impassioned "Bimba dagli occhi," the duet went on, supported by glowing themes for the orchestra, sustained in a wonderfully constructed web of tone in one of the most fervent scenes written by Puccini. The spirit of the situation was faithfully conveyed by the singers and orchestra, the curtain failing with the enthusiasm of the people breaking in upon the rich ensemble. Senorita Spani, coming on at the head of her group of attendant maidens at her first entrance across the bridge-a picturesque setting overlooking the harbour of Nagasaki, with great groups of cherry blossom giving added colour to the spectacle - depicted artistically the timidity of Butterfly, and her terror at her denunciations by the Bonze. Butterfly's first solo was given with great charm - indeed, all her music was notable by its expression and warmth of colour.

There is no overture to "Madame Butterfly," its place being taken by the bright, vivacious introduction, in which the theme is gaily announced, first by the leading strings, and caught up in turn by the second violins, violas, and ‘cellos. This introduction leads at once to the first conversation in which Pinkerton discusses his new house with Goro - the marriage broker, a character skilfully and animatedly impersonated by Signor Luigi Cilla. The orchestra developed piquantly for the most part all the captivating themes of this scene, and of the marriage celebration, enunciating also the sombre phases of the story, first hinted at in Butterfly's Song of the Mission. The work of the chorus was also highly effective.

Signorina Ida Mannarini was an excellent Suzuki, giving this role an importance histrionically which it has not always attained. Her share of the jubilant duet of the second act, in which Butterfly and her maid, excited at the prospect of Pinkerton's return, scattered the cherry blossom about the room - one of the most charming melodies of the score - furnished worthy support to the soprano. Signor Emilio Ghiardini was a capital Sharpless, appropriately easy in manner, and singing his music resonantly and with remarkably clear diction. One of the features of the night was the delivery of the trio in the last act - for Suzuki, Pinkerton, and Sharpless. Miss Dora Warby appeared in this scene as the American wife of Pinkerton, an attractive figure in her modern gown. Little Nellie Melba Tornari was the child Trouble, who is carried in by Butterfly to confront the dejected Sharpless, while the orchestra plunges into an ensemble of triumph.

The Attendance

The performance was witnessed by a large audience, which included the Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven, Lady de Chair, and members of their party, among whom were Lady Street, Miss Chamberlain, and Mrs Watson Holdship.

Lady deChair wore a gown of midnight blue under her evening cloak of Parma violet georgette, which was patterned with a deeper shade of violet, and had a velvet collar of the deeper shade also. Lady Street covered her gown with a coat of oriental lame trimmed with fur. Mrs Watson Holdship and Miss Chamberlain were both frocked in black. Tote dal Monte and her fiancé, Signor de Muro Lomanto, were present in the manager's box. They arrived after the performance had begun, and as soon as the lights went up after the conclusion of the act the crowd quickly recognised them. It was the signal for great applause, which Toti acknowledged with many bows, hand waves, and throwing of kisses. Lomanto also came to the edge of the box and acknowledged the congratulatory demonstration.

Toti dal Monte wore a frock of gold lame, trimmed with flowers on the corsage, Scavizzi in a frock of black, heavily embroidered in silver and rhinestones. Vere de Cristoff, Mr. John Brownlee, and his sister, Miss Brownlee were others in this party.

Among the audience were Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Hay, Mrs. Spencer Watts. Mrs. S. Hordern, Mrs. W. Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Pope, Mr. and Mrs. Bert McDonald, Mr. and Mrs. T. Mutch, and Mr. and Mrs. Kelso King. Mrs E. W. Knox, Miss Barbara Knox, Miss Mary Adams, Mr. and Mrs. Denis Allen, Sir Hugh and Lady Denison, Mr. and Mrs. R. Denison, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Brunton, Mrs. F de V. Lamb, Miss Consett Stephen, Sir Alexander and Lady MacCormick, Miss Morna MacCormick, Mrs. Gordon Wesche, Mr. and Mrs. Rabett, Mrs. Paterson, Miss Nan Garvan, Dr and Mrs. Crawford Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Sep Levy, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Eedy; Mrs. D. Maughan, Mrs. Hartley Sargent, Mrs.W. Holman, Mrs. Willie Anderson, and Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Marks.

Review found in The Sydney Morning Herald Monday July 23 1928

This is one of three reviews of the Melba - Williamson Tour of 1928 discovered under Dr.Byrnes surgery floor during renovations.

07 July, 2006

Grand Opera - Toti dal Monte's Success

"The Daughter of the Regiment" at Her Majesty's

Monday 9th July 1928

Signorina Toti dal Monte, the gay, lighthearted vivandiere to the life in her vivacity and charm, was the central figure in last night's opera "The daughter of the Regiment," at Her Majesty's. Naturally, there was a great welcome for her. Having captured the affections of the Sydney public when she first came here four years ago, she has strengthened her popularity at each of her appearances since that time. Last night her winsome graces and merry sense of comedy gave new life and interest to the role of Donizetti's heroine, Marie, the protege of the Swiss regiment of grenadiers, and her vocal brilliancy brought fresh distinction to this old opera, which had manifestly been chosen for the occasion, the second night of the season, because it furnishes a role for an artist who is at once an accomplished coloratura singer and a spirited comedy actress.

It needed the coquettish humour and polished vocal style of a Dal Monte to revive interest in a work of such slender harmonic values. Music has advanced since the days when Marie was a favourite role with Jenny Lind and Patti. Donizetti's lightly-scored pages are decidedly thin to ears accustomed to the robust polyphony of the Wagnerian school and the later Verdi. Yet they contain plenty of agreeable melody; and Commendatore Bavagnoli, who conducted last night's performance, imparted subtle charm to these melodic qualities by his fresh, spontaneous reading of the score. Toti dal Monte, on her part, sang the title-role in just the right spirit, and brightly carried the piece to a success which led to many recalls after each of the two acts.

One reason why Donizetti's harmonic design appeared so tenuous was that the opera was preceded by Beethoven's great "Leonora" Overture No. 3. This overture, distinguished by its imposing proportions and the marvellous breadth of its orchestration, was composed long before "The Daughter of the Regiment," yet it remains as vigorous and compelling to-day as if it belonged to the modern school. Commendatore Bavagnoli led a fine performance of this overture, his interpretation being notable for due restraint, judicious balance, and exceeding beauty of tone. He aimed at a perfectly-proportioned tonepicture, and thus secured a well-judged development of the working-out of the themes, and accordingly brought the powerful coda into proper relief. Wagner declared that this work, instead of being merely an overture to a music-drama, partook rather of the character of the music-drama itself, so dramatic is its design. Beethoven wrote four overtures for his "Fidelio." "Leonora" No. 2 was the one played at the first performance of the opera in Vienna. The opera was then revised, and at its further production on March 29, 1806, "Leonora" No. 3, a remodelled form of No. 2, was performed. In its new design it proved of much greater emotional value than the one which preceded it. Last night's interpretation developed this phase with stirring effect. The bold introduction, an adagio in C, was admirably enunciated; Florestan's aria was given due importance, and in the development of the melodious principal and second subjects the conductor led his forces in magnificent climaxes with the distant trumpet calls artistically delivered. The performance showed the high qualities of the orchestra as a concert organisation, and stimulated a desire to hear it in a full orchestral programme at some future date, before the season ends.

Signorina Toti dal Monte, coming on early in the first scene of the opera, captured the house by the beauty and finish of her singing in her first aria, "Apparvi alla luce," a coloratura theme in which the cadenza at the end was brilliantly vocalised. She entered into the spirit of the role with great vivacity, brightly acting in the exercise drill duet at this point with Signor Umberto de Lelio, who was admirable as Sergeant Sulpice, the gruff old veteran of the Grenadiers.

In the opening scene, a beautiful picture of a Tyrolean rustic scene, with the high peaks of the Alps in the distance beneath a blue sky, a company of peasants, as the curtain rose, was discovered deeply concerned in the fortunes of a battle proceeding not far away. Here there was a notable example ot the excellent training of the chorus, in the mezza voce "Silenzio" of the rustics grouped on the high pass in the middle distance, the defiant song of the stalwarts against the enemy, and the gentle prayers of the women, fearful of the approaching danger. News having been brought that the foe had been routed, all joined in an ensemble of rejoicing, given with fine spirit. When Marie, hailed by the old Sergeant as "the jewel and the glory of the famous Twentieth Regiment," tripped on by the high pass as the villagers dispersed, all attention was centred upon the brightness and animation of Toti dal Monte with Umberto de Lelio as her comrade in a sprightly interpretation of the "Rataplan" duet, as they paced up and down in their mock-ceremonial drill.

Tonio, hustled in at this stage by the soldiers, was impersonated by Signor de Muro Lomanto. The new tenor, youthful and of good presence, has a light voice of agreeable quality, and sang his music expressively, while proving himself a talented actor. Interest in this scene was enhanced by the tuneful "Song of the Regiment," delivered with rhythmical charm by Signorina dal Monte, who managed the mezza voce flights of vocalisation with the utmost grace, and at the end descended the scale from high A with perfectly even tone in a captivating climax. The charm of the artist's singing consisted in the fact that all this ornamental music was endowed, with such sympathetic quality aid warmth of colour. The melodious duet for the lovers, "A voi cosi ardente," was delightfully sung by Signorina dal Monte and Signor Lomanto.

The lyrical beauty of "Convien partir," so familiar on the concert platform, was another feature of the soprano's music. She sang this aria with exceeding conviction to a well- played obbligato of 'cello and flute, and the choral ensemble of the soldiers echoing her "addios" was excellent. Marie is obliged to leave her beloved Grenadiers to assume her proper position in society at the home of the Marchioness of Berkenfield, but her new surroundings prove irksome, and in the amusing singing lesson scene of the second act Signorina dal Monte fully proved her delightful gifts in comedy by the affected airs with which she imitated the severe Marchioness directing the rehearsal of her new song, exclaimed petulantly against her task, and suddenly broke in upon the melody of the lesson by taking up the strains of the "Song of the Regiment" and the "Rataplan" theme with Signor do Lelio, to the amazement and despair of the Marchioness, a role well played by Signorina Ida Mannarini. Signor Oreste Carozzi sang well as Ortensio, steward to the Marchioness, and Signor Satariano attracted attention by his admirable sense of comedy as the corporal of the Grenadiers. The orchestral introduction to the second act, a minuet theme was played delightfully.

The Attendance

The second night of the opera did not provide anything arresting in the way of dressing. The large audience seemed to regard the music as the only thing that mattered, and the interest of everyone was concentrated on it. In the upper circle there was the sound of leaves surreptitiously turned over as interested students followed the score. Hurried comments, muttered sotto voce, punctuated long spells of silence. In the dress circle, and stalls too, it seemed as if the music enthralled, for there was little conversation and not the exchange of greetings that usually occurs during the intervals. Lady de Chair was present with Miss de Chair, Mrs Busby, and Mrs. W. Mackay. Lady de Chair wore a black gown covered with a black and gold cloak. Mrs Busby and Miss de Chair were also in black, and Mrs W. Mackay wore a frock of petunia red georgette.

Francesco Merli, whose interpretation of "Radames" in Aida, gave such pleasure on Saturday night, occupied a box with his wife and son. Sir Joynton Smith and party had the opposite box.

Among the large audience were Dr. Nigel Smith, Mrs. Lane Mullens, Mr. and Mrs. Watts, Dr. and Mrs. Moran, Lady Rickard, the Misses Rirkard, Mrs Chas Danvors, Dr. and Mrs. Kater, Sir Mark and Lady Sheldon, Miss Owen, Miss Calahan, Mrs. W. A. Dettmou, Sir James and Lady Fairfax.

Mrs. H. Clayton, Mr. and Mrs. George Flannery, Mrs. H. E. Ross, Miss Marie Sussmilch, Mr D Sussmilch, Mr. and Mrs R. W. Chambers, Mrs. Eva Wunderlich, Mr. Bryan Judge and Mrs. Sly. Dr. Mary Booth, Miss Booth, Mrs. J. J. Rouse. Miss S. Russell, Mrs. Arthur Allen, Miss Marcia Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Lancley, Mrs. W. Foster, Mrs. Hartley Sargent, Miss A. Levy, Mr. and Mrs. N. Pope, Mrs. Florence Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bourke, Mr. and Mrs. F. Davy.

Dr. and Mrs. Sinclair Gillies, Dr. C. Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Justly Rawlings, Dr. Barrington., Sir John and Lady Vicars, Mr. and Mrs. Sep Levy, Mr. Justice and Mrs. James, Miss E. K. Wise, Dr. S. H. Harris, Mrs. Samuel Hordern, Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Gordon, Miss Margaret Gordon, Miss Beth Gordon, and Miss Annis Parsons.

Review found in The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday July 10 1928

This is one of three reviews of the Melba - Williamson Tour of 1928 discovered under Dr.Byrnes surgery floor during renovations.