[Met Performance] CID:158130
Rigoletto {308} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/28/1951.


Metropolitan Opera House
November 28, 1951

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Leonard Warren
Gilda...................Roberta Peters
Duke of Mantua..........Richard Tucker
Maddalena...............Nell Rankin
Sparafucile.............Nicola Moscona
Monterone...............Norman Scott
Borsa...................Paul Franke
Marullo.................George Cehanovsky
Count Ceprano...........Lawrence Davidson
Countess Ceprano........Anne Bollinger
Giovanna................Thelma Votipka
Page....................Margaret Roggero
Guard...................Algerd Brazis

Conductor...............Alberto Erede

Review of James Hinton Jr. in Musical America

The fourth presentation of the Metropolitan's new production of Verdi's "Rigoletto" once again confirmed the initial admiration for Herbert Graf's staging and Eugene Berman's settings and costumes for the first three acts. There were four changes of cast, but all the singers concerned fitted well into the framework of the action. Roberta Peters sang the first Gilda of her Metropolitan career and Nell Rankin her first Maddalena; Nicola Moscona made his first appearance as Sparafucile in the new surroundings and George Cehanovsky his first as Marullo.

Miss Peters, who sang Gilda for the first time last summer with the Cincinnati Summer Opera, replaced Genevieve Warner, who had been announced to sing the role for the first time. Miss Warner, still suffering from the upset of having been choked and robbed in Edinburgh in August decided to defer her appearance, and Miss Peters stepped in on short notice.

Miss Peters" Gilda was at once the most promising and the least complete impersonation of her Metropolitan career, which began so auspiciously last season with a pinch-hit Zerlina. She was charming then, and she has been charming in everything she has done since. But there is all the difference in the world between being a delightful Barbarina and undertaking a full-length, dramatic role.

It is eternally to the credit of Miss Peters that she did not choose to skitter across the surface of the part on showy coloratura technique. Gilda is not a coloratura role - in fact Verdi once threatened to withdraw if it continued to be cast as one. But it has coloratura in it, and many singers have had great success singing it in a way the composer never intended. Miss Peters, whose experience has been largely in florid and soprano leggiero parts, did a thoroughly honest job of making the dramatic accents. The blemishes were mainly technical ones. She sang out with a full-scale lyric soprano placement most of the time, reverting to a flute-like head voice when the tessitura (or habit) required it. Not infrequently the transition would be poorly gauged, and unplaced tones would miss the pitch. She tried a very tentative "messa di voce" at the end of "Caro nome." And so on. But she sang so ardently, with such a really live sense of dramatic values that I, for one, am perfectly willing to wait for her to settle the role in her voice and learn the stylistic nuances that are needed to make her Gilda as complete in realization as it is right in conception. She looked perfectly lovely, even in a blonde wig, acted very well indeed, and generally gave the impression of being a really big talent instead of merely an attractive one.

Miss Rankin looked well as Maddalena and was quite in the picture dramatically and musically, but her lack of really solid low notes kept her efforts from taking very well in the quartet or storm trio. Mr. Moscona, in new makeup, was a wonderfully villainous looking Sparafucile, and he sang with solid command of the dramatic needs of the part.

Mr. Cehanovsky was his familiar, adequate self as Marullo, although he participated in one discouraging bit of business with Leonard Warren, extending his hand to him and half raising him from the floor during the "Cortigiani!" This bit, not really bad in itself, is a hangover from the old production; it was eliminated by Mr. Graf in his restaging. Mr. Warren also returned (at least in the absence of Mr. Graf, who is just now at La Scala in Milan) to his habit of making a wide detour by way of the Duke's portrait as he exits after "Si! Vendetta." When a production has been as carefully worked out as this one, it is not very heartening to find that in only the fourth performance details are already being sabotaged by self-centered or obtuse individual singers.

Mr. Warren's Rigoletto was again supremely well sung, and Richard Tucker, in lighter and more malleable voice than at the first performance, sang elegantly a good part of the time as the Duke. Thelma Votipka, Norman Scott, Paul Franke, Lawrence Davidson, Anne Bollinger, Margaret Roggero, and Algerd Brazis discharged their duties as before. Aside from some uncertain tempos, Alberto Erede conducted well.

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