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THE SUN AND NEW YORKHERALD, SUNDAYEgRUARY 1, 1920.
?2d Floor 15 W. 34th St.
9k , mws
W M MM
ALDA AS CLEOPATRA
IN AMERICAN OPERA
Henry K. Hartley's Now Work
Hns Promicro nt the
(Between Fifth Avenue
Opposite Waldorf Hotel
A Sale of
"Cleopatra. ' NIlM" Metropolitan
Cleopatra........ .Mme. Frances Al'!
Melamoun Orvtllo IlarroM
Mnrillan,,.y Ml" Jtanno Clnrdon
Irai,.y Miss Marin Tiffany
Mark' Antony. . , .Vlncenzn Reschliillan
Tho Kunuch Mlllo I'lcco
Chief Officer Louis jl'Anftlo
Conductor (Jennaro Papl.
"Cleopatra's NlBht," optra In two nets,
tho llbretD by Allco Leal Pollock, tho
music ly Henry Kimball Hadlcy, was
performed at tho Metropolitan Opera
House yesterday afternoon for tho first
time on any qtage. It had tho honor of
officiating as the first number In a
"doublo bill," of which that veteran of
a hundred such encounters, "PaBllaccI,"
was the Bocoml.
The libretto of tho new American
opera, tho tenth to be released to tho
multitude by Olullo Gnttl-CAsazzn. Is
founded on the story, "Une Nult do Clco
patre," by Thocjihlle Gnutlcr. Tho book
follows the talo in tho general outline,
but In it'll Intimately afuociated with
Gautlor's work In the matters of detail
or In literary workmanship.
The legend might well woo and win
tho throbbing spirit of the contemporary
slonlst or vcrltUt, lio must here find mn
terlola rich In MiggesMnn. Cloopatras
bnlr. Is a place for nil those unblushlwr
enndors of the body which are now
mictlscd by the stnBC. There Is dlsrob
intr for tho bath. There nro sumptuous
displays ofrthe fleshly upholsteries of tho
female form. Thcro Is a banquet In
Vlitdi tho two seaes minule. In wildest
orgy. There-Ms some spilling of human
blood. Thero Is a rnvlft sacrificial datli
by tho draining of tho poisoned cup.
And around, nbovo ond over nil Is a
whelming outpour of ungoverned human
passion, which rude persons call lust.
There has been n considerably en
larged publication of tho physical gedir
raphy of prima 'donnas of late. Uy nomo
recondite connection IC recalls tho pert
answer of Alois Uurgstallcr to Holn
rich Conreld.when that actor-maiinger
tried to rhow the tenor How to poao his
limbs In "Parsifal." llo .mpntlcntly ex
claimed, "I do not sing with my legs."
nut perhaps that Is another story. Mr.
Hadley'n opera, nt any rnfe, will have
to stand on lt own legs and not on
rhoso of any singer.
Spectacle Flamlwr and finrlsh.
A description of this latest opera Is
by no means easily accomplished. Tho
spectaclo Is bo flaming, so garish, so be
wildering to the senses that ono retires
In eomo confusion before tho extraor
dinary production. Tho music cannot be
separated from the picture In nny In
telligible account or tho doings on tno
stagi. Ono beholds tho vast and lofty
Egyptian chnmbcr In which reposes the
crystalline water of Cleopatra's bath. It
mlsht bj the tltantlo valt of old
Cheops'n pyramid Itself,
Theatric preparation having been
made for the entrance ot tho prima
1-mn.i. tho historic barcc. manned hy
local Ethiopians, floats Into sight, with
Cleopatra Alda reposing In ladylike
pnnul on .1 well padded stem transom
Mr. Hndlcy's orchestra, always handled
dramatist or composer, llo he Impres- with the skill of a master of ln."t.rU'
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mentutlon, reoks with sensuous elglilnB"'
and lush harmonics.
Tho Qtleoi confesses that wo wna
her. 8ho would he loved, hut how shall
n Mimon know when she Is loved? Klio
cries, ''O Gods, glva-mo Proof thnt I am
overt uocauso l am my
MlrH l'ollocks language Is oil ot tm
fu, With this cry ot tho Queen iv
riiullcy abannons mere arioso ana
cssayb a lyric utterance which Is we.i
planned, appropriate ana meiouiuun.
Th.n cnmoK the nhootlnc of tho orrojv
bearlnff tho message. "I lovo yoii." Sco
what It Is to bo a Vleopatral Every do-
slro must bo gratified. Ana no mm
must bo another passionate lyric
'Splendid audacity, to plcrco my neart
with one swift dart." Bho linn to sing
oven such words as "nudnclty. No
grander sho fcls tho heat nnd presently
prepares for the bath.
Let no prudish soul wko iriKiu. .
Alda's preparations aro most dlBcreet.
Ono looks whero she walks nnd how,
nnd ono admires tho prospect. Uut
Cleopatra Is no 7.a:a, nnd her. disrob
ing Is of the world, but not of tho fleI
or tho devil. As sho Is about to step Into
the bath she shrieks, jfefawioun comes
up from tho water, us In Oautler a tale,
and tho affair begins. Mardlon, a slavo,
who la enamored of Welomoun, urges
him to slay himself whllo he Is yet pure,
and when ho expresses his readiness
to sell his soul for the Qutm em
brace kills herself. This lnes mUM
but cheering cplsodp ended 0MP
nnd Jlelamoun, throbbing with their
new passion, move from, tho scene as
Tho seconil act Is slmplo cnoug . In
a monstrous lull, decorated with hippo
dromlc grotesques. Jhe OMcrii'a K""1.1?
corEo themselves In nnclent manner till
pll,nged in the now obsolete ; s a e . of
drunkenress nicy revr
Thn women seduction Incarnate,
.1,7. m,. t.oniii::essly licentious," sajw
in her clowlne stngo dlrec-
tlons. Cleopatra entertains her lover
with a dance of Greek girls. This is i ons
.1.. i.nnni.of mnmonin of Mr. Iladlevs
"coVeT 'There is a glow of the true spirit
here and a well contrived contrast to tho
general character or tno musiu
Ilndle)' OrRj- ,M lisle.
A little later comes a ilnneo of desert
,..nmnn Air-iin Urn modest reviewer
hides behind Miss P&llock's stage dlrec
I Ions). "Ciui-sts row mon- iu.iuw--
ime llo entwined as they watch, others
snatch at the dancing girls, who, too cx
I 'i itisted to resist, aro seized ldlly ami
I carried screaming and laughing to UK -
d. n .spots of the garden." Header, It
1 .. ,ii.. t on hml when you see It,
ml Mr. Hadlcy's org-' music makes re
Cleopatra draws renewed passionate,
.rotestattons from Metmnoun. Ho must
repeat tho magic words. "I lovo you,
md ho slnga a lyric which has warm
melody, and yet protests rather Ieem.
The dawn begins to pale the stars.
Cfeojiafra would bid the Bun tarry, but
the bearer of the poisoned cup' enters on
u'hedulo time. Tho Ttoman trumpets,
oumllns much llko those of Wchard
Strauss, announce tho approach of
ntony. Jcfamoiia drains the beaker
and dies. , ,
Slaves lay him on a couch, and the
Queen weeps nnd kisses the dead face.
intony't officer thrusts the spienaui
strength of the Itoinan soldlcr'n garb
Into the lascivious nbodo nnd proclaims
the presence of his lord, who presently
Mils from without, Cleopatra Blhgs
her Inst solo lamentoso modcrato. Her
romarkablo heart may brcalc. but ono
can hear about It calmly. Tho Tady
hcllmbs tho stnlrs to meet Antony, and
ins unseen chorus prays for rn In per
haps to replenish thabath.
It Is n good theme for onera music.
and Mr. Uadley has dono generally well
with it. He has committed the dialogue
to a fluent arioso and evaded tho nrla
formula of recitative. All his Instru
mental and choral passages nro well
made. Tho acclamation of Cleopatra In
tho second act Is excellent opera writing,
H la. not unconventional, but what other
living composer, except perhaps Puccini
o- Strauss, would have handled tho situ
Tho feeling of tho solo utterances and
nil tho lyric proclamations of emotion,
for this musician seizes every opportun
ity to wrlto song, are always correct.
The music has tho necessary quality of
seiisitousncss. It Is suited to tho dis
closure of purely physlcnl excitements.
It Is always melodious, but possibly some
listeners will And It too finely moulded.
It there was anything worth singing In
this brutal love It might have been
sung In savage, large limbed phr.asos,
Mr. Hadley's themes nro elegant, grace
ful, winning, but not tumultuous In feel
ing. Doubtless much will be said about
Miss I'ollock's libretto, but It seems
l ardly worth while. The style Is stilted
ond unnatural throughout. It Is not
rhapsodic prose, blank verso nnr vers
llbro. It Is frequently not very Hltignbla.
Rut composers of to-day seem not to be
ovcroxactlng about tholr librettos.
Theatrical Glories Devised.
The production of the work is In
keeping with the present methods of
the Metropolitan. - Enoush has been said
to Indicate that theatrical glories of
Imposing character have been devised.
Both scenes havo tho radical defect of
placing a background mucii Cdo brilliant
behind the protagonists. But splendors
we must have at all hazards.
Of all elements In the performance
the most subtle and Intangible Is the
Cleopatra of Jlme, Alda. It teaches us
that too many hysterical stories have
been told nbojt the serpent of old Nile.
She waB yesterday no mere gypsy, no
ancient Carmen, no royal drab, but a
gentlewoman, a daughter of the I'tole
mlcs. tho adored of a Crcsar Julius
loved her before Antony nnd n woman
or prldo nnd queenly deportmont. Miss
Pollock makes her talk llko n wanton
disguising sheer desire undo tho cloak
of a Queen's i.atural wish to bo loved
Mmo. Alda mnkcfl her a Greek lady,
not too skittish nbout morals to bo sure,
greatly delighted with tho amplo pro
portions of Jfelamotm nnd able to enjoy
nii amour without entlro Iobs of dignity,
Hhe was beautiful to see and sho both
woro and took off some fine garments.
Also alio Bang ncr music very well,
though In places It Boomed not alto
gether kind to. her voice.
Orvlllo Harrold was a plump and
pleasing Jlelamoun. A passionate lover
might cffoctlvcly.lio of a slondcrcr build,
but physical qualities cannot bo put on
at will, He made lovo warmly and sang
admirably, Furthermore one rnu!"
understand pretty much all ho tald lit
this brings iis.iigaln to the vexed toj .
of opera In nsgllth, How much of Hi
text did the nudlcnco hear? Tlu wrlti
cannot answer, but he himself hear
less than 25 per cent, of It,
Miss Jeanne Oordon was li very unm'
looking .Vanlloii. The others had lltti
enough to do.
At the Ixlngton Thrntro ycsterrl.iv
afternoon Verdi's "tin Hallo In Mn.
hern" wns given. The principal singer
;ero Mmes, Macboth and Van Gordo1
and Mr, Iloncl, whose return to ilif
lical operatic stage was welcome J
heartily. Ills familiar skill In tho nit
of song wns lavishly displayed In th
rolo of IUccardo. and In tno laughing
long ho aroused a storm of enthuslnw
Miss Van Gordon was excellent -Ulrica.
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