[Met Performance] CID:138380
Aida {474} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/1/1945.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 1, 1945


AIDA {474}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Zinka Milanov
Radamès.................Kurt Baum
Amneris.................Bruna Castagna
Amonasro................Richard Bonelli
Ramfis..................Ezio Pinza
King....................Osie Hawkins
Messenger...............Richard Manning
Priestess...............Thelma Votipka
Dance...................Lorraine Ammerman
Dance...................Michael Arshansky
Dance...................Alexis Dolinoff
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Ilona Murai
Dance...................Peggy Smithers
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Leon Varkas

Conductor...............Emil Cooper


Review of Louis Biancolli in the World-Telegram

"Aida" opens New Year with Fine Met Cast

The Metropolitan began the New Year right last night with a performance of Verdi's "Aida" that sounded like a chorus of good resolutions.

Few operas would match "Aida" as luck year-openers. The work not only opened many Metropolitan seasons but a canal, too - the Suez Canal on the Khedive of Egypt's commission. So why not a new year?

Most of the good resolutions occurred on the vocal side, though the ballet and scenic units seemed to be making pledges, too. And conductor Emil Cooper was swapping one or two brisk vows with the orchestra.

On the dramatic side, the year got going with a bit less than the usual mobility. Some of Verdi's Egyptians seemed intent on becoming mummies before their time. Or was it the holiday feasting?

But voice was the thing last night. As Aida and Radames Zinka Milanov and Kurt Baum hit it off well along the higher altitudes. Tone came smoothly to both and phrasing tagged along nicely.

Bonelli as Amonasro

More good voice came from Bruna Castagna, returning to the Egyptian fold as Amneris. The word you usually hear about Miss Castagna's tones - opulent - applied again last night.

The big all-around performance was Richard Bonelli's as Aida's father, Amonasro. From the moment he warned the slave-princess "Non mi Tradir!" (Don't betray me!) He was an epic figure.

Tone and style combined to make the picture of the captive king a gripping one all through. Mr. Bonelli looked and acted like a man with a lost kingdom plotting a comeback.

Among other stalwarts ringing in the new year with mighty tone was Ezio Pinza as the high priest Ramfis. Mr. Pinza makes every role sound like his favorite one. Last night was Ramfis' turn.

Others filling the bill were Osie Hawkins as the king; Richard Manning as the messenger and Thelma Votipka as the priestess. The chorus also sang in holiday vein.

Dance Invention

Apart from Messrs. Bonelli and Pinza, acting technic last night alternated between signal-corps registration of rage and almost total immobility.

Possibly the ancient Egyptians found keeping their arms above their heads restful. Or else their arms got that was from piling stones into pyramids. At times it looked like a holdup on the Metropolitan stage.

The dancing was especially good last night, with winsome Marina Svetlova leading the troupe in a smartly paced and costumed Triumphal Dance.

The way of integrating the dance troupe into the mass action of the "triumphal" scene is one of the soundest innovations in recent Met choreography.

That scene at the Theban Gates, by the way, is staged with practically everything in the warehouse. A full inventory of props and people would run to several pages.
But grand opera wouldn't be the same without that museum curator's paradise. Besides, it brought a good part of the personnel together last night for the exchange of good wishes. Not a bad way to begin 1945, Mr. Johnson.



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