[Met Performance] CID:149410
Le Nozze di Figaro {106} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/8/1949., Broadcast


Metropolitan Opera House
January 8, 1949 Matinee Broadcast

Mozart-Da Ponte

Figaro..................Italo Tajo
Susanna.................Bidú Sayao
Count Almaviva..........John Brownlee
Countess Almaviva.......Eleanor Steber
Cherubino...............Jarmila Novotna
Dr. Bartolo.............Salvatore Baccaloni
Marcellina..............Claramae Turner
Don Basilio.............Alessio De Paolis
Antonio.................Lorenzo Alvary
Barbarina...............Anne Bollinger
Don Curzio..............Leslie Chabay
Peasant.................Thelma Altman
Peasant.................Lillian Raymondi
Dance...................Julia Barashkova
Dance...................Corinne Tarr
Dance...................Alfred Corvino
Dance...................Richard Goltra

Conductor...............Fritz Busch

Director................Herbert Graf
Set designer............Jonel Jorgulesco
Costume designer........Ladislas Czettel
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Le Nozze di Figaro received ten performances this season.

Review of Herbert D. Peyser in Musical America

The revival on Jan. 8, after a one-year lapse, of Mozart's comedy, was one of the Metropolitan's happier achievements of the current season. The performance turned out to be one of those paradoxical events defective in some of its details but, as a whole, alive, integrated and almost continually delightful. It was filled with a spirit of exuberance, and it encompassed the mood of high comedy. Herbert Graf's stage direction had certain capital features, purged to some degree of extravagances that have marred the representations in recent years. It had a good deal of, admirable teamwork, it had style and, in point of musical finish, it excelled most of the Metropolitan's other offerings this winter. In short, even the listener addicted to hair-splittings could, after a space, relax and enjoy himself.

One would like to dismiss the occasion at this point and forego the usual chronicle. But the afternoon had some news features that should not, perhaps, be so lightly dismissed. The first of these was the initial appearance as Figaro of Italo Tajo, the Metropolitan's precious new bass acquisition. Mr. Tajo is, more than anything else, a sovereign Mozart stylist -a rare commodity, and, in the present case. worth the artist's weight in gold. That is not to say that the newcomer's accomplishment could pass as one hundred per cent irreproachable. His Figaro turned out to be delightfully supple, animated, nimble, volatile, and rich in shades of expression. By the same token it had-particularly in the first half of the opera-certain defects of its qualities. It was overacted, here and there, and the singer's ordinarily well planned play of gesture showed a tendency to grow excessive. Such extravagances, however, can he curbed. As a whole, the impersonation revealed the intelligence, taste and imagination of the true artist and the profound student of Mozart.

Mr. Tajo's delivery of Mozartean recitative alone is an object lesson in this department of an operatic artist's schooling, and one could fill pages with technical particulars. Vocally, however, his work exhibited some problematic features not to be definitely solved without further observation. He has a curious habit, for example, of singing out of the side of his mouth. His tones, as such, struck the reviewer this time as rather drier and less resonant than they have seemed in his recordings or even in his recent appearance with the New Friends of Music. To what degree acoustics may be responsible for this, and whether the curtains and other hangings on the stage may have helped to muffle the voice may become clear in time. At any rate, the bass' singing appeared to grow clearer as the performance advanced. His delivery of "Aprite un po' quegl' occhi" ranked with Ezio Pinza's, without in the least imitating it; and praise can hardly go further than this. Moreover, Mr. Tajo sang everything faultlessly in tune.

This is more than could be said of some of the other artists of the day. Eleanor Steber, for example, delivered the Countess' " Porgi amor" both above and below pitch-though in justice it should be remarked that virtually no soprano (not even Emma Eames, in a remote day) seems ever to come through this exquisitely cruel test unscathed. Nor was Mme. Steber's Dove sono memorable for jointless legato. What she did sing in lovely fashion was her share of the Letter Duet with the Susanna of Bidu Sayao. Miss Sayao's embodiment was once more the sprightly, mercurial thing it has long been; and even if some phrases of the rose aria lay too low for her, Miss Sayao's light tones could be charming in their diminutive fashion.

Jarmila Novotna's Cherubino, which this reviewer has witnessed numerous times, never seemed to him as fascinating as on this occasion, and at no time has he heard her deliver the "Non so piú" with quite as much freshness and exuberance. The "Voi che sapete," however, was a rather less distinguished adventure.

Claramae Turner's Marcellina, if somewhat overdone, fitted well into the ensemble. Anne Bollinger sang Barberina's plaintive little song about the lost pin with warm and even tone. John Brownlee's Almaviva seemed to have felt the contagion of the lively afternoon, and his Count struck one as less wooden and unbending than it generally has. Both the Bartolo of Salvatore Baccaloni and the priceless intriguer, Basilio, of Alessio de Paolis proved, as often before, true adornments of the Metropolitan Figaro. Of Fritz Busch, on the other hand, it may be said that-in New York, at any rate-he has never conducted the work so brilliantly.

Review of Paul Affelder in the Brooklyn Eagle

"Marriage of Figaro" at Met Is Highlight of Weekend

The big musical event of this weekend was the Metropolitan's revival of Mozart's delightful opera, "The Marriage of Figaro" on Saturday afternoon. We have heard this work on a number of occasions at the Broadway house, but Saturday's was an ideal presentation in every respect. There was not a single weak spot in the cast, Fritz Busch's conducting infused everything with zest and spirit, and the staging of Herbert Graf had an unusual amount of humor and vitality.

Heading the cast was Italo Tajo, appearing in his first major role at the Metropolitan, that of the high-spirited Figaro, and Mr. Tajo's was a high-spirited performance. His voice has a great deal of flexibility with the result that he can sing a Mozart recitative even faster than Salvatore Baccaloni - who, by the way, was the admirably amusing Dr. Bartolo. Mr. Tajo's characterization reached its climax in the last act with his "L'aprite 'un po' Quegl'occhi," which literally stopped the show.

Another show-stopper was Bidu Sayao's tenderly lyrical interpretation of "Deh vieni non tardar." As Susana, she displayed the same freshness and coquetry that have so long made her the perfect interpreter of this part. Another high point was her third act duet with Eleanor Steber, the appropriately dignified countess. It was one of the most finely matched duets we have heard.

Jarmila Novotna as the adolescent Cherubino, and John Brownlee as Count Almaviva, have been associated with these roles for so long and with such success that it seems almost superfluous to comment upon their performances except to say they were finer than ever.

All the shorter parts were expertly sung, too. Anne Bollinger, making her first appearance as Barbarina, sang with a fullness and clarity that bodes well for her future at the Metropolitan.


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