[Met Performance] CID:146260
Aida {498} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/5/1947.

(Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 5, 1947


AIDA {498}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Daniza Ilitsch
Radamès.................Torsten Ralf
Amneris.................Margaret Harshaw
Amonasro................Leonard Warren
Ramfis..................Giacomo Vaghi
King....................Philip Kinsman
Messenger...............Anthony Marlowe
Priestess...............Thelma Votipka
Dance...................Marina Svetlova
Dance...................Lorraine Ammerman
Dance...................Elissa Minet
Dance...................Ilona Murai
Dance...................Leon Varkas

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

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Angelo Parravicini
Costume designer........Ethel Fox
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Aida received nine performances this season.

[Angelo Parravicini was not credited as set designer, though the scenery was his, repainted by Joseph Novak.]

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

A New Aida

Daniza Ilitsch in Title Role at Metropolitan

With two new principals in the cast, Verdi's "Aida" had its first 1947-48 performance at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. Neither Daniza Ilitsch, as Aida, nor Torsten Ralf, as Radames, had sung these roles before on the Metropolitan's home grounds, although the talented soprano had appeared as the hapless Ethiopian girl with the company on tour last spring.

Her singing had praiseworthy features, including expressive communicativeness. At first, it suggested occasional coping with limitations of volume, with tones that were pleasing when effort was not in evidence, and laudable phrasing and expressive shading in passages not calling for vocal amplitude, such as the close of "Ritorna vincitor." Later, as in "O patria mia," there was a considerable gain in volume and freedom, despite a top note, in that aria which went slightly awry. Her impersonation, on the whole, was more persuasive to the ear than to the eye, despite its occasional visual suggestions of dramatic intensity.

Mr. Ralf was usually in good voice, despite occasional vocal tautness in climactic notes, as in his entrance in the Nile Scene; the tones were mainly well focused and the volume satisfying, but there were moments when the tenor's phrasing gave a hardly definable sense of a slight rigidity. Visually, his Radames was dramatically creditable, if setting no new standards for Metropolitan interpretations of this role. As Amneris, Miss Harshaw's singing in the first three acts was mainly commendable, while with some variations of tonal merit.

Mr. Warren gave a laudably sung, forcefully presented impersonation of Amonasro; Philip Kinsman a convincing Egyptian king, also provided some of the consistently best singing of the evening. Mr. Vaghi's high priest was more routined. The general musical interpretation under Mr. Cooper was of a respectable, not exceptional merit; its climaxes were massive, but the performance seemed sometimes lacking in underlying momentum. "Aida," indeed is one of those operas in the Metropolitan repertoire which would profit by a new and completely restudied production.



Review of Irving Kolodin in the Sun

Daniza Ilitsch Sings Aida With Torsten Ralf as Radames.

An archeological horror which the Metropolitan Opera has been nurturing for a decade or so burst into full flower at last night's first performance for the season of "Aida." Implicated were a Swede (Torsten Ralf), a Yugoslav (Daniza Ilitsch), one Italian (Giacomo Vaghi), and various Americans, each of them providing a local version of the costume appropriate to the land of the Pharaohs. As for the ballet, it could not have been more absurd had the staging been done by Jerome Robbins in a frivolous mood.

So far as mere singing was concerned, the evening, was notable for an unexpected bit of authenticity from Ralf, who ended his "Celeste Aida" with a pianissimo B flat (as written by Verdi) instead of the full voiced tone favored by ninety-nine of a hundred tenors. The audience was so unaccustomed to the "innovation" that Ralf found himself with only a patter of applause for his troubles. There was a similar amount of care and intelligence in Ralf's singing otherwise, but little of the brightness or ring demanded by the style.

Ilitsch, one suspects, has a longer future as Aida. She drove her voice hard for the climaxes, and she is far from a statuesque Ethiopian; but intensity, fervor and dramatic flair are hers in abundance. Her "Numi pieta" was not only beautifully but convincingly sung, as was the "Nile Scene." Two resonant Americans, Margaret Harshaw (Amneris) and Leonard Warren (Amonasro) added to the volume of the occasion, if not its subtlety. Emil Cooper was an added starter, as conductor; a lover of the big drum, he left none of its power to the imagination.



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