[Met Performance] CID:158110
Aida {534} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/26/1951.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 26, 1951


AIDA {534}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Zinka Milanov
Radamès.................Mario Del Monaco
Amneris.................Elena Nikolaidi
Amonasro................George London
Ramfis..................Jerome Hines
King....................Luben Vichey
Messenger...............Thomas Hayward
Priestess...............Lucine Amara
Dance...................Janet Collins

Conductor...............Fausto Cleva

Review of Robert Sabin in Musical America

The Metropolitan gave its new production of "Aida" for the fourth time on Nov. 26 with the same cast and conductor as on [the first] night. It was not a happy evening. One of the bright spots was Elena Nikolaidi's judgment scene. With the sole exception of the outburst, "Ah pieta! egli è innocente, Numi, pietà," in which she did not give enough breadth to the [starting] phrase and to the wonderful descending seconds, her singing was sumptuous in tone. Her acting was highly effective. She had been nearly inaudible in the ensembles in Act II, and it was a pleasure to hear her voice ring out in this scene.

In Act I, several particles which resembled snow drifted down on the scene. After observing Margaret Webster's staging of the whole work, I would not have been at all surprised if she had introduced a full-scale snowstorm. Unbecomingly costumed and unnaturally placed, the artists were fighting against a handicap all evening. Zinka Milanov, a great Aida on past occasions, was nervous and not fully in control of her beautiful voice. Mario del Monaco clung to high, fortissimo tones with the lingering affection that Giacomo Lauri-Volpi used to show for them, without disclosing Lauri-Volpi's command of legato. What saved Mr. Del Monaco's Radames. was his innate sense of passion and intensity in the big moments of the opera.

George London's splendid diction and surety of interpretation as Amonasro were a joy, but his pseudo-Greek costume and Miss Webster's direction did not enable him to project the savage power of the role. Miss Webster seems to have conceived the character as someone rather like Elijah, and Rolf Gerard has added to the ponderous dignity of this conception by swathing the Ethiopian king in robes that impede his movement and remove almost every trace of wildness and freedom.

Lubomir Vichegonov was again heard as the King; Jerome Hines as Ramfis; Thomas Hayward as the Messenger; and Lucine Amara as the Priestess. Mr. Cleva seemed uneasy in the first two acts, but he kept the last two moving while encompassing much striking detail. The dances looked like an episode from Earl Carroll's Vanities transported to ancient Thebes. Janet Collins distorted and disported herself skillfully in some extremely ugly and tasteless movement. But then, this "Aida" is far closer to Broadway than to the Nile.



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