[Met Performance] CID:130550
Aida {443} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/16/1941.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 16, 1941

AIDA {443}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Stella Roman
Radamès.................Frederick Jagel
Amneris.................Kerstin Thorborg
Amonasro................Leonard Warren
Ramfis..................Ezio Pinza
King....................Norman Cordon
Messenger...............Lodovico Oliviero
Priestess...............Thelma Votipka
Dance...................Ruthanna Boris
Dance...................Grant Mouradoff

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

Review of Robert Lawrence in the Herald Tribune

Mme. Thorborg Is Amneris for First Time Here

Appears at Metropolitan in "Aida" Role, Costumes of Neo-Egyptian Design

Clad in costumes of neo-Egyptian design, Kerstin Thorborg made her first New York appearance as Amneris in last night's performance of "Aida" at the Metropolitan Opera House. The noted mezzo has obviously studied the customs of antiquity, and her painstaking approach is to be commended. But so exaggerated was her appearance in the opera's [first] scene that her impersonation had suffered before she uttered a note.

This Amneris was highly clothes-conscious. She folded her hands mysteriously above a pair of frosted breast plates as she came upon the stage. A heroic Egyptian headdress crowned her brow in the triumphal scene. She wore trousers surmounted by a diaphanous veil in the judgment episode. Almost all of these details might have had a chance in a modern, stylized mounting of Aida." Against the background of the Metropolitan's archaic production, their least desirable features came to light.

The first two acts were overdrawn, with excessive facial play and gesture. Mme. Thorborg fared better in the judgment scene, but even here her acting conveyed more litheness than grandeur. Vocally, she was in uneven form, singing the first act poorly and achieving not enough roundness of tone throughout the evening. There were moments, however, when the voice which one ordinarily admires made itself heard with ringing effectiveness. Such was the culmination of the second act duet between Amneris and Aida, and such was the climax of the judgment scene. But if last night's performance is to be accepted as conclusive, this is not the role for Mme. Thorborg. Comparisons are most often unnecessary, but sometimes artistry must be judged by a certain norm; and the splendor of Karin Branzell's Amneris, heard two weeks ago at the Metropolitan, lingers in the memory as an ideal standard for the part.

Of the other singers last night, Ezio Pinza was commanding as Ramfis. Frederick Jagel contributed an able Radames, grown in authority. Norman Cordon's King of Egypt displayed its familiar merits and Leonard Warren brought a full-bodied voice to the part of Amonasro. His acting will undoubtedly become more subtle with experience.

Stella Roman, who had made her debut on New Year's night as Aida, sang the role again last night. She is fond of the arena style, holding on to upper tones as long as possible and playing most of her drama down at the footlights. Much of her singing last night was inferior and some of it, during the Nile scene, vaguely expressive. But surely the Metropolitan can do better for an Aida.

One way of approaching this entire production of Verdi's masterpiece is to view it with tolerant cynicism. Another is to denounce in all their abomination the ignoble handling of the scenes, the long brown underwear worn by the "supers" in supposed simulation of brown skin, the thoroughly unprofessional ballet led by an inept dancer name Grant Mouradoff, the hideous costuming of the chorus in the 0409triumphal scene, the stage band with printed music visible on their instruments, and the flat, painted scenery which billows with every draft from Seventh Avenue. If ever an operatic production was in need of "refurbishing.' It is this Metropolitan "Aida." Last night Ettore Panizza conducted.

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