[Met Performance] CID:147740
Il Trovatore {238} Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California: 04/16/1948.

(Review)


Los Angeles, California
April 16, 1948


IL TROVATORE {238}
Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Jussi Björling
Leonora.................Regina Resnik
Count Di Luna...........Leonard Warren
Azucena.................Cloe Elmo
Ferrando................Jerome Hines
Ines....................Inge Manski
Ruiz....................Leslie Chabay
Gypsy...................John Baker

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

Review of Albert Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times

MET'S "IL TROVATORE" EXCELLENTLY DONE

The Metropolitan Opera put on Verdi's venerable "Il Trovatore" in Shrine Auditorium last night and give it the works.

"Il Trovatore" for at least the last quarter of a century has become not only a repertoire piece but a routine item to be gotten through on a catch-as-catch-can basis. It was therefore all the more amazing for once to hear a performance that not only sounded as if it had been prepared with the utmost care, but that paid the most respectful tribute to the work's sturdy genius. The Met gave "Il Trovatore" last night as if every member of the company down to the last super was suddenly enthralled by a new revelation and had a message of blinding importance to deliver.

Fresh Costumes

That is a good way to present any opera, and it is a particularly useful method for "Il Trovatore." The costumes were fresh and attractive, the scenery conventional but still well above average for this piece, and Herbert Graf's intelligently planned action brought at least some sense to a plot that no-one has ever completely fathomed.

The huge success of the evening was Cloe Elmo as Azucena. One would hesitate to nominate Miss Elmo as the possessor of a great voice, but she certainly has a highly serviceable one, and for this role it is little short of ideal. She sings the lyrical portions instead of yowling them as most altos do, the ornamentation was remarkably clear in "Stride la vampa," and there was always strong continuity to the lyric line.

Vigorous Portrayal

But it is her declamatory powers that make her portrayal memorable. She commands a vigor of projection that is the very essence of Verdian style. It is melodramatic to a degree, but it is always fitting and it never oversteps the boundaries of good taste and although one would judge that the physical limitation, for she is short and squatty, would limit repertoire of roles, in this part she is an actress of great forcefulness. Cheers and vast applause became her reward at the end of every scene.

Miss Elmo was not, however, the whole show by any means. Jussi Bjoerling was the Manrico, and while his voice is a trifle slender for heroic parts it was vocalizing of a finish all too rarely heard in opera. His short aria at the beginning of the second scene was as polished in refinement of phrasing as if he were singing lieder, and he shortly followed this with a "Di qualle pira" of real operatic quality, replete with a ringing high C.

Regina Resnik accomplished a very good Leonora. Her voice has gained in focus and even in warmth, though it still lacks the spark that kindles excitement. Leonard Warren's baritone was a consistent pleasure as it always is, and the competition seemed to have stirred him to greater care than sometimes marks his singing for there were a good many passages of the most admirable finesse and control.

Sound Singing

Jerome Hines clicked as he invariably seems to do in opera and the secondary role of Ferrando was marked by an adept characterization and good sound singing. Inge Manski likewise did the little there was for her to do as Inez with style and distinction.

The animating force behind this rousing performance was undoubtedly the conducting of Emil Cooper, which missed nothing of the score's punch and actually discovered some previously unnoticed subtleties. And no small part of the success of the show was due to the Met's chorus, particularly the male contingent. Even if the soloists had been less worthy, the work of the chorus would have kept anyone from claiming they did not get their money's worth.



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