[Met Performance] CID:137660
Aida {470} Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois: 04/27/1944.

(Review)


Chicago, Illinois
April 27, 1944


AIDA {470}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Zinka Milanov
Radamès.................Kurt Baum
Amneris.................Margaret Harshaw
Amonasro................Leonard Warren
Ramfis..................Virgilio Lazzari
King....................Lorenzo Alvary
Messenger...............John Dudley
Priestess...............Thelma Votipka
Dance...................Robert Armstrong
Dance...................Michael Arshansky
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Natasha Tzvetcova
Dance...................Leon Varkas
Dance...................Nina Youskevitch

Conductor...............Wilfred Pelletier

Review of Felix Borowski in the Chicago Sun

Met Opera Fails to Make Most of 'Aida's' Qualities

Verdi's "Aida," presented by the Metropolitan Opera Co. at the Civic Opera House last evening, was not one of the organization's most brilliant achievements. It should have been otherwise, for the work gives its interpreters ample opportunity for the display of voice, action, scenery, costuming and what other ingredients go to make grand opera grand. Moreover, there was present a vast audience which should have made things comfortable for the singers by the very generosity of its applause.

A dramatic performance does not easily rise above the unpromising [first] act, although last night's "Aida" did, indeed, become cumulatively more convincing by the time the great scene before the Gate of Thebes had been reached. In the [first] act Kurt Baum, who was the Radames of the cast, appeared to be a rather dispirited hero. It is possible, of course, that the prospect of singing" Celeste Aida" (one of the most taxing arias in the operatic repertory) almost immediately after the curtain goes up made him feel none too confident.

Intonation Teeters

Mr. Baum gave the impression, at least, that he was not completely sure of his own capabilities. His intonation, too, teetered perilously on the edge of uncertainty, and the high B flat at the end of the aria was taken in a fashion that suggested the singer's relief that at least "Celeste Aida" was now out of the way. The tenor has sung Verdi's opera in Chicago in other seasons and has been more impressive in it.

Even Zinka Milanov's singing in the same act was less brilliant that it had been in Verdi's "Ballo in Maschera" last Saturday, in which, indeed, it could scarcely have been excelled. The "Ritorna Vincitor" which closes the scene might have been a worthy effort for a less distinguished artist, but it was not scaled to the height of Miss Milanov's possibilities, nor did the voice have its full measure of radiant luster. In the scene with Amneris, which followed, the singer was more forcible, more comprehending of the dramatic exigencies, more alert to the significance of fine artistry.

Harshaw's Voice Rich

Margaret Harshaw was given the role of the haughty Amneris. She disclosed a rich voice, sonorous and in the main well used. What would have been likely to have given a larger sense of color - or, at least, variety - would have been a more frequent use of mezza voce and a more certain focus of tone. For the rest Miss Harshaw comported herself with the dignity to be expected from the daughter of an Egyptian king.

In the music of Amonasro Leonard Warren solidified the favorable impression made by his previous appearances here. In him the Metropolitan Co. possesses a baritone of more than ordinary worth. In "Aida," as in "La Traviata," he made manifest a voice of beautiful quality, a voice of power, which was used to serve as a medium, less for the exploitation of a personal success than for the projection of a message of dramatic urgency. There can be no doubt that Mr. Warren will travel far down the path of art.


Lazzari Excellent as Usual

Virgilio Lazzari has sung the music of the high priest Ramfis so often and so well in performance of "Aida" given by the Chicago Opera Co. that it is hardly necessary to do more than record here that his efforts at this latest representation were on the same high plane of excellence.

Willfred Pelletier, who conducted, was in favor of tempi which were too fast to give the singers even a modicum of freedom. The orchestra played well, however, and probably was glad to feel that the last curtain would be likely to fall earlier than usual. The chorus sang with great zest and as if it welcomed an opportunity to show its mettle. The ballet, too, danced with much vivacity.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).