[Met Performance] CID:122030
Aida {416} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/2/1937.

(Debut: Carlo Tagliabue

Metropolitan Opera House
December 2, 1937

AIDA {416}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Gina Cigna
Radamès.................Giovanni Martinelli
Amneris.................Bruna Castagna
Amonasro................Carlo Tagliabue [Debut]
Ramfis..................Ezio Pinza
King....................Norman Cordon
Messenger...............Giordano Paltrinieri
Priestess...............Thelma Votipka
Dance...................Daphne Vane

Conductor...............Ettore Panizza

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Angelo Parravicini
Costume designer........Ethel Fox
Choreographer...........Marius Petipa

Choreography realized by Balanchine

Aida received nine performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in the Sun

"Aida" and a New Baritone

Carlo Tagliabue Has Debut in Cast Headed by Cigna, Martinelli and Castagna

Italian opera and a new baritone from its habitat arrived together at the Metropolitan last night, Verdi's "Aida" setting the stage on the third night of the season for the American debut of Carlo Tagliabue, erstwhile of La Scala. His
companions in the aria-studded romance of ancient Egypt included Gina Cigna, Bruna Castagna, Giovanni Martinelli and Ezio Pinza, all appearing for the first time in the new span of lyric drama.

The newcomer was cordially, if not tumultuously welcomed by a large audience that was not hesitant about interrupting the action to applaud. He made an agreeable impression, if scarcely one to cause any shouting from the housetops. Those who have been lamenting the dearth of new artists of eminence from the land that has been regarded through centuries as the cradle of great singers probably will speak of Mr. Tagliabue as "serviceable" and reserve further judgment until they have heard him in other roles.

As disclosed last night, the baritone's voice was one of ample range and volume and of good, if not notable, quality. It had the fullness at the top and the weakness in the lowest tones, characteristic of most Italian baritone voices of the operatic persuasion. The production was smooth and even, but the tone was not of any very challenging vitality. Short of stature - possibly of about the height and build of Giuseppe de Luca, one of his more immediate predecessors among singers of this type - Mr. Tagliabue went steadily and surely about the business of being a captive king, his acting conforming to long-familiar routine and suggesting little more.

Vocal honors of the evening fell properly to Mme. Castagna, whose Amneris has had merits from the first and latterly has been refined until there is now an artistry of singing to match the beauty and amplitude of the voice. Irregularities of production and deviations from pitch aside, Mme. Cigna's Aida was again one well designed and effectively delineated. The weakness and lack of quality in her middle voice has become more evident with repeated appearances. Her dramatic and rather penetrating high notes remain her stock in trade. If the close of "Ritorna vincitor" was badly off key, "O Patria mia" evoked the customary enthusiasm and was more fairly representative.

The soprano, to be sure, was not alone in infidelities to the pitch. But Mr. Martinelli shook himself free of his in the [first] scene and thereafter was the dependable Radames he has been through many years. If his upper notes have diminished in volume, happily he drives them less strenuously than was formerly the case. Now in his twenty-fifth season at the Metropolitan (he made his New York debut here as Rodolfo on November 20, 1913), he is one of the remaining representative of that notable group of Italian singers who, in the regime of Giulio Gatti-Casazza, gave to the house its now legendary preeminence in Italian opera.

Also representative of the best standards of Italian singing of this later era, Mr. Pinza was a sonorous Ramfis in spite of a cold that played him a trick in the temple scene. Norman Cordon was again the most elevated of Pharaohs and Thelma Votipka sang the music of the unseen Priestess smoothly. In the toss-up as to whether the Messenger should be Angelo Bada or Giordano Paltrinieri, Bada lost; that is, Paltrinieri sang.

Newly elaborate divertissements by the American ballet represented some improvement over those of last year, particularly that of the temple. Daphne Vane danced a solo prettily in the triumph scene. Little Nubians succeeded the dusky athletes of Amneris's outdoor boudoir and this, too, was a change for the better. Ettore Panizza, the conductor, Fausto Cleva, the chorus master, and Desire Defrere, stage director, may be apportioned whatever further credit is due for a performance of about average interest with the general level higher than details of the singing.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).