[Met Performance] CID:140180
Don Giovanni {126} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/13/1945.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 13, 1945

Mozart-Da Ponte

Don Giovanni............Ezio Pinza
Donna Anna..............Zinka Milanov
Don Ottavio.............Charles Kullman
Donna Elvira............Jarmila Novotna
Leporello...............Salvatore Baccaloni
Zerlina.................Nadine Conner
Masetto.................Arthur Kent
Commendatore............Nicola Moscona

Conductor...............George Szell

Director................Herbert Graf
Designer................Joseph Urban

Don Giovanni received five performances this season.

Review of Virgil Thomson in the Herald Tribune

Beautiful and Coherent

Zinka Milanov has always had a beautiful voice; but her singing has rarely heretofore given complete pleasure, because of a persistent tremor which made her pitch unclear. In last night's performance of "Don Giovanni" at the Metropolitan Opera House she sang the role of Donna Anna with a reformed vocal mechanism. Since her natural organ is as fine as ever, and since her musicianship has improved steadily in the last five years, she is now singing with a beauty that is unmatched among the sopranos of this country. How she has cured her tremolo I do not know, but the transformation is nothing short of sensational. It is to be hoped that she will now start practicing her scales every day, which are still not quite perfect, and take some good lessons in gesture. Her present mastery merits these final perfections.

The opera was admirably sung by all and acted with liveliness and distinction. Mr. Pinza's Don Giovanni has never been more brilliant or more terrifying. Mr. Baccaloni's Leporello more soundly musical. Miss Conner's Zerlina, though merely standard soubrette acting, is vocally the most charming we have had in some years. And Miss Novotna's Donna Elvira is by now a rich and a touching characterization. Miss Novotna has also improved vocally; the buzz that has veiled her voice of late has disappeared.

Returning to the men, Mr. Kullman, who sang Don Ottavio, sang his two great arias with all suavity of tone and with a flowing legato style that was not at his command several years back. He needs a little work too, however, on his scales. Mr. Moscona's Commendatore was nobly orotund. Only Mr. Kent, who sang Masetto, was disappointing. He overacted constantly and barely sang at all.

There has been little change in the casting of this work for three or four seasons, and the advantages of that stability are beginning to show. The artists play to one another and sing in harmony with one another in a way that is only possible when they have been performing together for some time. The final fillip to the co-operation has been George Szell's speed-up in the pacing of the whole and his accentuation of the score's dramatic expression. Mr. Szell rarely makes the orchestra sound beautiful; but his work has relief, variety and emphasis. And in this opera it has a welcome rhythmic drive.

And so, what with expedited timing, with skilled vocal execution, with a more or less permanent cast that has finally learned to play and sing together instead of having to improvise, with the best set of scenery the house owns (it is by Joseph Urban) and with Miss Milanov's truly wondrous vocal beauty to embellish the whole, Mozart's masterpiece became dramatic excitement and a human communication of unusual power.

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