[Met Performance] CID:130360
Aida {442} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/1/1941.

(Debut: Stella Roman
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 1, 1941


AIDA {442}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Stella Roman [Debut]
Radamès.................Giovanni Martinelli
Amneris.................Karin Branzell
Amonasro................Alexander Sved
Ramfis..................Ezio Pinza
King....................John Gurney
Messenger...............Lodovico Oliviero
Priestess...............Thelma Votipka
Dance...................Ruthanna Boris
Dance...................Grant Mouradoff

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

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Angelo Parravicini
Costume designer........Ethel Fox
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

[Angelo Parravicini was not credited as set designer, though the scenery was his, repainted by Joseph Novak.]

Aida received four performances this season.


Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

OPERA DEBUT MADE BY STELLA ROMAN

Rumanian is Heard in Title Rode of Verdi's 'Aida' at the Metropolitan

MARTINELLI AS RADAMES

Karin Branzell Sings the Part of Amneris - Sved Heard in Character of Amonasro

The debut of Stella Roman, the long awaited Rumanian soprano, in the title part, and the appearance of Karin Branzell as Amneris, after an interval of eight years, were the distinguishing features of the cast of Verdi's "Aida," performed last night by the Metropolitan Opera Association. Miss Roman was very well received. Her performance was interrupted by long and hearty applause after her aria of the third in the Nile scene, and there was a second burst of acclaim following the scene with Amonasro. It will easier to estimate her as an artist after further appearances. Nervousness may have been partly responsible for an interpretation always interesting and singularly uneven.

The voice has considerable color and dramatic power, but there are inconsistencies of technique and style. Miss Roman seemed to have her own way, and a variable one, of attacking, breathing and focusing tone. There were as many changes of tone quality and there were some uncertainties of pitch. The performance improved as the evening went on. After the curtain of the third act there was a further welcome for the newcomer.

Miss Branzell had been asked at little more than twenty-four-hours notice to substitute for Bruna Castagna, who had taken cold. This had necessitated an entire re-study of the role of Amneris, a task of which she discharged herself in a highly credible manner. The music does not invariably lie well for her voice, but in its most effective registers the tone had a fine opulence and emotional color and Miss Branzell had much of the grand manner and the big line that the character requires.

The effect of experience, tradition, unmistakable sincerity and fire showed impressively in Mr. Martinelli's singing. The voice of this veteran is no longer in its best estate, but as it warmed and he entered always more intensely into the spirit of the drama he became one of the most significant figures on the stage. To this accomplishment is to be added the admirable High Priest of Mr. Pinza and the intelligence of Mr. Gurney far more than a lay figure as the King. We have heard better Amonasros. Mr. Sved sang with sufficient passion and breadth, but he chopped his melodic line and his tone production was explosive.

In matters of musical ensemble the performance was routine and worse, The Metropolitan chorus, which seldom fails us, and which must know this music in its sleep, sang it that way, without brilliancy, ardor or rhythmical precision. Mr. Panizza, who conducted, did not improve this situation by hurrying the tempo in a way that, in any case, would have deprived the grand processional scene of much of its impressiveness.

The ballet of the second act-the African ballet-is always a puzzle as to what to do with it. When the ballet was not disturbingly officious, or distracting by sudden notions not in consonance with the mood, for example of the temple scene, it developed entertaining choreography. The scenery had been repainted. The costumes looked still fresher. They were rich and brilliant and added materially to the spectacle.


Photograph of Stella Roman as the title role in Aida.



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