[Met Performance] CID:146010
Un Ballo in Maschera {46} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/10/1947.

(Opening Night {63}
Edward Johnson, General Manager

Debuts: Karl Klauser, Giuseppe Antonicelli
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 10, 1947
Opening Night {63}

Edward Johnson, General Manager


UN BALLO IN MASCHERA {46}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Somma

Amelia..................Daniza Ilitsch
Riccardo................Jan Peerce
Renato..................Leonard Warren
Ulrica..................Margaret Harshaw
Oscar...................Pierrette Alarie
Samuel..................Giacomo Vaghi
Tom.....................Lorenzo Alvary
Silvano.................John Baker
Judge...................Leslie Chabay
Servant.................Lodovico Oliviero
Dance...................Nina Boneck
Dance...................Elissa Minet
Dance...................Tilda Morse
Dance...................Peggy Smithers
Dance...................Robert Armstrong
Dance...................Josef Carmassi
Dance...................Karl Klauser [Debut]
Dance...................William Sarazen

Conductor...............Giuseppe Antonicelli [Debut]

Director................Herbert Graf
Set designer............Mstislav Dobujinsky
Costume designer........Ladislas Czettel
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Un Ballo in Maschera received eight performances this season.


Review in the New York Herald Tribune (unsigned)


Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera," a work admired by musicians but rarely successful on the stage, was offered last night at the Metropolitan Opera House as the season's first subscription performance. That it was somewhat less of a disappointment than usual was largely due to animated pacing and precise care for expressive detail on the part of the conductor, Giuseppe Antonicelli.

Mr. Antonicelli comes to the Metropolitan from Trieste, by way of La Scala, Milan (or possibly vice versa). If his work of last night is typical of his powers, he is what we have been needing for a long time, an Italian conductor of the first quality. Certainly "Un Ballo in Maschera" needs conducting of the first quality. It needs everything, in fact, to keep it alive, including an all-star cast. But the essential is that it be taken in hand by a master musician and made to speak. So treated, it is not lacking in dramatic interest, in spite of its silly and dragged-out plot. Mr. Antonicelli treated it so; and it did speak, especially in the third and fourth scenes, when Daniza Ilitsch was helping him from the stage.

The singing cast of this o so Italian opera contained not one Italian in a major role to back up the conductor. Everybody sang nicely but without dramatic projection, save for Miss Ilitsch, as Amelia. Even Leonard Warren who stopped the show with a beautifully intoned "Eri tu," and Jan Peerce and Margaret Harshaw, who did nothing ugly, and Pierrette Alarie, who warbled Oscar's airs in a pretty enough way - all of them treated the opera as if it were a concert in costume.

Miss Ilitsch sang less well than the others, but she treated the work as a stage play. She used her voice in character and expressed something. Her voice is a very beautiful one, too, especially in the middle, where it is rich, powerful and varied in timbre. The bottom of it is not without appeal either; but the top seemed last night to be absent. Everything above an A flat came out as a squeal. Perhaps she is really a mezzo. But she is, in any case, a dramatic artist with high sense of theater. She can animate a dramatic action, give expression to a lyric line, project character and emotion. Whenever she was on stage the opera came to life.

Returning to Mr. Antonicelli, he not only got discipline and good sounds of out of the Metropolitan orchestra, which has been done before; he also got both out of the chorus, which has not been done in my memory. They sang loud and full; and they all sang all the time, not just from the third or fourth measure of each phrase. Indeed, the whole performance was musically good. If anybody on the stage beside Miss Ilitsch had shown the slightest awareness that a play, poor though it be, was going on and they were all in it, the whole evening might well have taken on incandescence, as it did in moments in the hands of the Italian conductor and the Jugoslavian soprano. I dread to imagine what it might have been without them, for all its musical correctness.



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