[Met Performance] CID:159060
Il Trovatore {264} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/23/1952.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 23, 1952


IL TROVATORE {264}
Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Kurt Baum
Leonora.................Zinka Milanov
Count Di Luna...........Paolo Silveri
Azucena.................Fedora Barbieri
Ferrando................Nicola Moscona
Ines....................Anne Bollinger
Ruiz....................Thomas Hayward
Messenger...............Alessio De Paolis
Gypsy...................Algerd Brazis

Conductor...............Alberto Erede
Director................Herbert Graf
Set designer............Harry Horner
Costume designer........Mary Percy Schenck

Il Trovatore received six performances this season.

Review of James Hinton Jr. in Musical America

A Saturday night audience filled the house and crowed the standing room as Verdi's "Il Trovatore" made its first appearance of the Metropolitan season. What they heard was a good, standard performance, but not one that will go down in history as a great one. There were merits - most notably in the theatrical excitement of Fedora Barbieri's Azucena and the fine schooling of Zinka Milanov's Leonora. There were also demerits, and the blackest of them stemmed from the conducting of Alberto Erede. At any given moment his musical integrity was beyond question, but unsteady tempos, passionless climaxes, and metrical rigidity with the singers robbed the score of a good deal of force.

If Miss Barbieri had been gifted with a voice one size larger and a temperament one degree more abandoned she might indeed be a great Azucena. Her performance strongly conceived along the excellent lines traditional for the role, made its points unfailingly. Her force and emotional validity carried the performance along more than any single factor. More than anything else "Il Trovatore" need a powerful Azucena. This time it had one.

Miss Milanov rounded into extremely good voice as the evening drew on. Both pianissimos and fortes were in good working order in the last act (surely one of the greatest acts in all opera), and her immense stylistic authority made for some magnificent singing. Elsewhere her delivery was tonally uneven but always lofty in conception.

Kurt Baum's Manrico has shown constant improvement in recent years, and his performance was in some ways more refined and artistically satisfying than ever before. But during long stretches, particularly at the onset, his tone was pinched, unlovely, and lacking in impact. He sang "Ah sė, ben mio" with some attention to line, but ended by forcing most unattractively at the climax. It remained for two ringing high Cs in "Di quella pira" to restore a favorable balance and he went on to a good last act. His acting was still wooden, although there was rather more of it than there used to be.

It was said that Paolo Silveri was singing his first Count di Luna here in spite of a cold, but he sounded better than he had before this season. Absent (or largely so) was his tendency to sing loud and rough, and it was pleasant to be reminded that when he wants to Mr. Silveri can sing a line and shape a phrase better than most. His acting was somewhat offhand and commonplace, but his "Il balen" was well sung and his over-all musical accomplishment undeniable.

Nicola Moscona was in splendid voice as Ferrando, and discharged his duties with unexceptionable intelligence and good presence. Anne Bollinger, appearing as Inez for the first time, was lovely in every way. Alessio de Paolis, as the Messenger, and Thomas Hayward, as Ruiz, were both more than competent. Algerd Brazis, as the Old Gypsy, sang his one line as if it were the rendingly emotional climax to an unheard aria, which it is not. There are some roles that nothing can be made of, and trying simply makes the singer seem foolish.



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