[Met Performance] CID:149020
L'Amore dei Tre Re {63} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/1/1948.

(Debut: Paul Franke
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 1, 1948


L'AMORE DEI TRE RE {63}
Montemezzi-S. Benelli

Fiora...................Dorothy Kirsten
Avito...................Charles Kullman
Manfredo................Robert Weede
Archibaldo..............Virgilio Lazzari
Flaminio................Leslie Chabay
Maid....................Thelma Altman
Young Woman.............Paula Lenchner
Old Woman...............Claramae Turner
Youth...................Paul Franke [Debut]

Conductor...............Giuseppe Antonicelli

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Mario Sala
Set designer............Joseph Novak [Act II only]

L'Amore dei Tre Re received four performances this season.

[Kirsten's costumes were designed by Valentina.]


Review of Louis Biancolli in the New York World-Telegram

After an evening of gay spoofing with Donizetti, the Metropolitan settled into its favorite groove last night by staging one of the grimmest tragedies in the repertory-Italo Montemezzi's "L'Amore Dei Tre Re." The count at the final curtain was three corpses-one strangling and two poisonings.

With Giuseppe Antonicelli conducting, the Montemezzi thriller was run off in a heightened vein of melodrama. Aided and abetted by one of the spookiest scores on record, the action moved eerily through a realm of sinister fantasy. At the end the "love of three kings" brought on the death of two kings and one queen.

Following Beneili's harsh drama of ancient Italy, Montemezzi created an opera that has held the stage for almost four decades now, thanks to its tautly maintained suspense and a score that wavers grippingly between macabre fatalism and high-pitched passion. The blind king, Archibaldo, haunted by his daughter-in-law's fatal beauty, gives the opera an added note of gruesomeness.

No Letdown in Fury.

So many celebrities have been associated with Montemezzi's opera that any citation of names of earlier performances would read like a Who's Who of opera of the last 35 years. One thinks offhand of Toscanini, Caruso, Garden, Martinelli, Ponselle...

Yet last, night's participants must be judged on their merit, not by the dimming memory of past pages of glory in local operatic annals. To begin with, Mr. Antonicelli read the score with the passionate stress it called for. At no point was there any letdown in the surging fury of tone.

The opera came through in a rich fabric of sound from stage and orchestra; voices and instruments blended beautifully in the heaving mass of melody and harmony. While the orchestra was never allowed to overweight the vocal line, it was never reduced to shy servility.

Stirring Scenes.

In dramatic impact some of last night's scenes were among the most stirring ever witnessed on Metropolitan stage. I'll go further. I would match the last 10 minutes of the second act-built around the death grapple between the blind king and Fiora -- with any other 10 minutes on the current Broadway stage.

In those closing minutes of the act all four principals were at their best---Dorothy Kirsten as the tragic Flora; Charles Kullman as Fiora's lover, Avito; Robert Weede as the betrayed Manfredo, and Virgilio Lazzari as the blind Archibaldo turned into a homicidal maniac by the girl's betrayal.

Miss Kirsten combined suave voice and confident style in portraying Fiora. Her tones came through in swirling currents of harmony in clear sequence, and she gave Fiora's taunting defiance of the old king a highly realistic ring.

Artistic high point of the evening was reached by Mr. Lazzari, a distinguished veteran of the Montemezzi opera. If Mr. Lazzari was a great Archibaldo in the past, he was, despite only half the voice he once had, a still greater one last night. The groping pathos and mounting ferocity of the man were overwhelming.

Robert Weede and Charles Kullman added sound performances - both in voice and dramatic pacing - as Manfredo and Avito. Of the men in the cast, Mr. Weede must be credited with the greatest number of fresh and expressive tones.

Among the more attentive listeners was a spry and dapper Italian of 73, just arrived from his native land - Italo Montemezzi - who may be said to have had something to do with last night's performance.


Photograph of Virgilio Lazzari and Dorothy Kirsten in L'Amore dei Tre Re.



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