[Met Performance] CID:137570
La Traviata {267} Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 04/18/1944.

(Review)


Chicago, Illinois
April 18, 1944


LA TRAVIATA {267}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Violetta................Licia Albanese
Alfredo.................Armand Tokatyan
Germont.................Leonard Warren
Flora...................Thelma Votipka
Gastone.................Alessio De Paolis
Baron Douphol...........George Cehanovsky
Marquis D'Obigny........John Baker
Dr. Grenvil.............Lorenzo Alvary
Annina..................Mona Paulee
Dance...................Michael Arshansky
Dance...................Leon Varkas
Dance...................Nina Youskevitch

Conductor...............Pietro Cimara

Review of Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune

Met's Singing of 'La Traviata' Has Its Flaws

Perhaps people should pack memories in mothballs when they go to the opera. They keep better that way and do less harm. For, if you went to the Metropolitan's "La Traviata" at the Civic Opera House last night, and took along fond recollections of brilliant nights when sparkling elegance jeweled Verdi's version of the tragic lady of the camellias, you had your disappointments.

True, Leonard Warren did the best singing of his Chicago career as papa Germont, focusing that big bellowing baritone in a line as serene and soft as down, looking a happy country squire with Falstaffian face in the process. Also true, Licia Albanese did some exquisite singing once she was past the hazards of a first act which inexplicably trapped her into forcing a voice far too beautiful for such reckless treatment. And there was Armand Tokatyan's Alfredo, not ideally cast for voice, but as an imaginative tenor who prefers scattering rose petals to playing operatic peekaboo when he slips up quietly behind his musing lady.

There were these things, and some experts in minor roles - artists like Thelma Votipka, George Cehanovsky, and Alessio de Paolis, who made bits into people and like little Mona Paulee, who actually sang Annina, who is customarily squawked. But the staging, in our own settings, was undistinguished, and in the orchestra pit Mr. Cimara seemed to have no idea of the imperishable loveliness of the score, or much interest in fitting that score to the supple style of Veridan song. He took a slow, and often a dreary, pace.

But the major disappointment was that first act of Albanese's, which only last season was taking on the glow of stardom. The score is difficult and dangerous for lyric soprano - Gatti-Casazza used to say Bori was too valuable to risk herself in it too often. But when the Met came here last spring one of its joys was the dexterity, the clarity and the glitter with which Albanese tossed off the bravura of "Ah, fors' lui" and "Sempre libera." Perhaps she was just in poor voice last night at the beginning, perhaps like many a young singer she just tried too hard. But I hope she was not satisfied with that first act, for all the warm applause she won. She has it in her to be a superb Violetta, once she can get her voice completely in hand and learns about costumes - if possible from the exquisitely elegant Bori. It will be worth the effort.



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