Susanne Fisher Makes Metropolitan Opera Debut

Braxton Democrat
January 2, 1936

New York Press Praises Miss Fisher in Metropolitan Opera Debut

Dreams nurtured from girlhood days found their fulfillment on the stage of the greatest opera house in the world last Thursday afternoon in New York City when Susan Fisher, daughter of Mrs. J. Luther Fisher, of Sutton, made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera Company in the title role of Puccini's "Madame Butterfly".

Midway of her first aria a ripple of applause signalized the arrival of a new "Butterfly" and this grew into an ovation at the end of the first act, with repeated curtain calls.

The delight of a tremendously appreciative audience grew with each act and when the curtain fell on the poignant finale the applause was thunderous.

An exceptionally good press marked Miss Fisher's debut from which the following excerpts are reprinted:

Olin Downes in the New York Times:

Miss Fisher showed what could be done by a young artist who has a fresh youthful voice, usually well employed, intelligence sincerity and ambition. Evidently she has worked hard and to good purpose. She appears to be not only a singer but a serious musician. All the detail of a part that asks an unusual degree of nuance and contrast was contrived thoughtfully and not in a merely imitative way. She did not try to do with the role what Geraldine Farrar or Rethberg or other famous singers had already done with it.

She was not so much in character, where traditional bearing and gesture were concerned, as other Cio-Cio-Sana. That is, she did not apparently feel it incumbent upon her to make it detective proof Japanese. If there was a certain loss of exoticism because of this there was a gain in simplicity and naturalness. The part was not overacted, and its pathos was felt by the observer. This, in fine, was a very credible achievement for a young and talented girl.

Francis D. Perkins in the New York Herald Tribune:

The young soprano's characterization of the title role offered much material for praise besides the consideration that it was very pleasing to the eye and gave an impression of youth which is desirable, but not always present in performances of this opera. Her singing told of a good vocal quality and a volume of tone well under control which, after a certain reserve in the first act, had been discarded, proved quite sufficient for the occasion. The quality sometimes became slightly hard, but as a rule her singing was well schooled, with strong, clear and well sustained high notes and some excellent work in the middle register, and knowledge of requirements of phrasing and vocal line. A sense of effort was a welcome absentee.

Miss Fisher also showed ability to employ tonal, and dynamic shading advantageously as a factor of dramatic expression, and her interpretation of Butterfly was unusually well thought out and intelligently realized both in the general dramatic conception and in the fine points of detail. It showed originality, but without exaggeration, and independence of convention without seeking the opposite extreme. It was the work of an artist who had gone much further in her study of the role than the memorizing of its music and text, and could set forth its emotions convincingly.

Pitts Sanborn in the New York World-Telegram:

The chief interest of the matinee lay in the debut with the company of Mme. Susanne Fisher, who has returned to New York fresh from successful operatic appearances in Berlin and Paris.

Richard Crooks, who was to have been the Pinkerton to her Cio-Cio-San, had suddenly succumbed to laryngitis, so Frederick Jagel replaced him at short notice in the sorry role of the American naval officer.

Mme. Fisher did not take long to prove herself a welcome addition to the Metropolitan troupe. For the pathetic little Japanese heroine she is of the right physical type and her acting was truly expert. Still, it was as a singer that she excelled.

Her voice is a fresh and youthful soprano, not of large caliber, but so well produced and pure in tone that it can tell against thunderous orchestral outbursts.

Sound musical instincts and admirable schooling were indicated not only in the tone production but in the singer's skillful phrasing, her uncommon command of nuance, her finish of detail and yet her ability to sustain a far-flung melodic line.

As she treated "Un bel di" it was not only a famous aria commendably sung, but the engrossing expression of the girl's longing and faith. Here in particular Mme. Fisher, despite her youth and the genuine feeling that vivified her singing, displayed the artistic pose and sure command of pattern of an accomplished operatic veteran.

Among persons well known in Sutton who went backstage to greet Miss Fisher following her magnificent performance were:

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Arnett (the latter Miss Fisher's sister), Miss Rachel Arnett, David and Sarah Arnett, Mr. and Mrs. Lon H. Kelly, Miss Virginia Kelly, Mrs. Dewey L. Fleming, Mr. and Mrs. Bradley (the latter Nora Haymond), Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Morgan (the latter Aldine Frame), Major J. E. Grose, Mr. and Mrs. William E. Grose, and Mr. Homer Dean.

A letter from Mrs. Luther Fisher, mother of Susan, who is ill at Hopemont, states that following the debut her daughter sent her a gorgeous bunch of flowers presented to her by Lucretia Bori, famous prima donna, and also one presented by Major John Edwin Grose, former Sutton boy and son of John A. Grose.

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