[Met Performance] CID:131400
Il Trovatore {211} Lyric Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland: 03/25/1941.


Baltimore, Maryland
March 25, 1941

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Arthur Carron
Leonora.................Zinka Milanov
Count Di Luna...........Frank Valentino
Azucena.................Bruna Castagna
Ferrando................Nicola Moscona
Ines....................Maxine Stellman
Ruiz....................Lodovico Oliviero
Gypsy...................Arthur Kent

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

Review of Weldon Wallace in The Baltimore Sun

"Il Trovatore"

A melodrama of love and death, of vengeance and devotion, was enacted on the stage of the Lyric last night, when the Metropolitan Opera Company presented Verdi's "Il Trovatore," the second production of Baltimore's opera season.

The performance had the propulsion and dramatic vocalism necessary to project the fierce tensions of this work. The audience, like that of last night, was large and enthusiastic.

The opera is a curious contrast to "The Marriage of Figaro," which opened the season. Both operas are Italian in their inspiration, but the Mozart score is the purest and most subtle art; a golden page in the history of music.

Its amorous mix-ups, it secret letters and rendezvous, it eavesdropping, place "Figaro" in the eighteenth [century], but the sparkle of the music, the radiance of the score and the insight of the characterization are qualities that bear no date, hence "Figaro" will never age.

Verdi's "Il Trovatore," on the other hand, belongs rather definitely to one period in the sense that its musical and dramatic devices are outmoded. Beside the art of Mozart, it seems almost peasant in its workmanship. Yet this opera has a singable richness of melody that could have come from no soil but the Italian, and its qualities of sheer theater keep it alive for present day audiences.

"Il Trovatore" moves; it moves with a cumulative power that carries the listener along by its momentum. It makes an effect.

In at least one of the characters, the Gypsy woman, Azucena, Verdi has created one of the most vivid tragic portraits in the world of opera. It is this Gypsy woman's opera, and last night's Azucena made the most of her opportunities.

Magnificent is the word for Bruna Castagna. Her voice, pure and round, responded with the full color play of the spectrum.

The singer gave compelling expression to the conflict of vengeance and maternal love. She imbued her voice with an intensity made pictorial by suggestion in the narration of her mother's death in the "Stride la vampa" and the succeeding scene with Manrico, in the second act.

Yet her tones became persuasively tender as she expressed her maternal love for Manrico and attained a poignant gentleness in the duet, "Ai nostri monti."

The Manrico of the evening. Arthur Carron, made his best impression in the second act scene with Miss Castagna. His voice does not always have velvet in its texture, but it is large and pinging and has dramatic vibrancy.

Zinka Milanov, the Leonora, revealed a voice of rich timbre and flexible expression. Her air, "Tacea la notte placida," in the first act did not find her singing in its full warmth (nor did the other singers fare very well in this act) but she projected with suavely phrased simply purity, the aria, "Deggio voigermi" in the convent scene and was effective latter in the more dramatic passages, though the highest tones were not altogether well-focused.
Substituting for Richard Bonelli, who was ill, Francesco Valentino, young American baytone, played the role of the Count di Luna. His voice proved one of noble depth and roundness. His famous solo, "Il Balen del suo sorriso" was a superb achievement and his singing was of consistent excellence.

His acting was the best of the evening. With an assured dignity, unmarred by mannerisms such as the other members of the cast displayed, he created a forceful picture of the darkly designing Count.

In smaller roles, Maxine Stellman was heard to advantage as Inez, while Nicola Moscona, though showing something of a tremolo, displayed a voice of rich quality as Ferrando.

The new settings and costumes for the revival of "Il Trovatore" are handsomely designed. The broad, medieval battlements lent a massive weight to the picture and added grim atmosphere. The second scene of the first act was particularly lovely, almost Giattoesque in its arrangement.

The performance was again under the baton of Ettore Panizza. The orchestra at times showed lack of tonal finesse but was spirited.

Baltimore's opera season will be concluded tonight with the sprightly Smetana opera, "The Bartered Bride" in which will appear Jarmila Novotna, Charles Kullman, and others and which Bruno Walter, world famous conductor, will direct.

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