[Met Performance] CID:122210
Il Trovatore {200} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/17/1937.

(Debut: Zinka Milanov

Metropolitan Opera House
December 17, 1937

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Frederick Jagel
Leonora.................Zinka Milanov [Debut]
Count Di Luna...........Carlo Tagliabue
Azucena.................Bruna Castagna
Ferrando................Virgilio Lazzari
Ines....................Thelma Votipka
Ruiz....................Giordano Paltrinieri
Gypsy...................Arnold Gabor

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times:

The opera last night at the Metropolitan was "Il Trovatore." The cast introduced a new soprano, Miss Zinka Milanov in the part of Leonora. Miss Milanov is a Croatian in her late twenties and an imposing figure on the stage. She studied for five years at the Conservatory at Zagreb with Milka Ternina and she made her operatic debut in the Yugoslav city ten years ago in the role that presented her last night to America.

She has sung in opera in Vienna and other European cities and last summer took the soprano part in a performance of Verdi's Requiem under Toscanini at Salzburg. Miss Milanov also coached with Fernando Carpi, a former tenor of the Metropolitan. It should be mentioned that in the past she has sung Italian parts in German. Last night's performance was her first interpretation of Leonora's role in its original tongue. We are informed that her study of Italian required by the Metropolitan contract began the first of last September. It is well to remember this and also the fact of the tension of a Metropolitan debut in discussing Miss Milanov's performance of yesterday evening for they may explain some of its discrepancies.

She has a voice of uncommon range, flexibility and capacity for dramatic expression. The voice has plenty of power and it is probable that the C's and D flats of last night did not exhaust its gamut. Miss Milanov can also sing pianissimo which she proved to the satisfaction of the audience in the tower scene of the fourth act and which she followed a little later with some agile and rhythmically precise bravura which again drew prolonged applause from her hearers.

There were, however, in a number of places conspicuous defects as the frequent unsteadiness and spreading of the tones of the top register, intonation not always accurate, and shrillness in fortissimo passages. The treatment of recitative in the tower scene showed that Miss Milanov could sing carefully and with nuance, but it must be said that at other moments she showed a disposition toward recklessness of attack and style not so easy to explain from a singer who has studied under Ternina.

Unsigned review in The New York Sun:

Standees had their innings at the Metropolitan last night. The opera was "Il Trovatore" and the Leonora, a newcomer with a voice well calculated to excite the admiration of aria enthusiasts who congregate behind the rail. But they were by no means alone in the applause bestowed on the Jugoslav soprano, Zinka Milanov, who made her first appearance in New York in the role of her European debut. The demonstration which followed Miss Milanov's singing of "D'amor sull' ali rosee" was of a protracted character with plenty of hearty handclapping in the usually placid main body of the house.

Miss Milanov disclosed with the first phrases of "Tace la notte placida," a generous endowment of voice. As the opera progressed she also made clear the possession of dramatic abilities which enabled her to go beyond the long-familiar routine of the role. She was a personable figure, if no mere wisp of a woman. In her curtain bows, solo and ensemble with her associates of the cast, she exhibited a smile of charm. These considerations disposed of, there remain certain questions as to her use of an organ of power, flexibility and adequate compass.

At its best, Miss Milanov's singing was of a persuasive order, smoothly controlled, with a praiseworthy legato, a well-supported pianissimo, high notes of challenging fullness and intensity, and an expressive gamut of vocal color. But that best gave way frequently to tones that were either spread or harshly penetrating. The soprano is inclined to sing sharp above the staff, whether in full voice or with diminished power. Bravura measures were acceptable if not impeccably fashioned. The total impression was of a vocal equipment with possibilities beyond the uses to which it was put.

Photograph of Zinka Milanov as Leonora by Studio Kowalsky, Zagreb.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).