[Met Performance] CID:161130
Don Giovanni {158} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/26/1952.

(Debuts: Hilde Zadek, Erich Kunz
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 26, 1952


DON GIOVANNI {158}
Mozart-Da Ponte

Don Giovanni............Cesare Siepi
Donna Anna..............Hilde Zadek [Debut]
Don Ottavio.............Giacinto Prandelli
Donna Elvira............Delia Rigal
Leporello...............Erich Kunz [Debut]
Zerlina.................Nadine Conner
Masetto.................Lorenzo Alvary
Commendatore............Dezs÷ Ernster

Conductor...............Fritz Reiner

Director................Herbert Graf
Designer................Joseph Urban

Don Giovanni received ten performances this season.

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

DEBUTS STAND OUT IN 'DON GIOVANNI'

"Met' Performance Features Hilde Zadek, Erich Kunz, Cesare Siepi in Main Roles

The performance of "Don Giovanni" last night by the Metropolitan Opera Association was one of many distinctions, including the most interesting cast of the season thus far.

This cast introduced two singers who simultaneously made their Metropolitan debuts and their first American appearances on this occasion. They were Hilde Zadek, the Donna Anna, and Erich Kunz, the Leporello. Cesare Siepi, whose admirable vocal art is well known to us in other roles, also made his first appearance on any stage in the role of Don Giovanni.

All the singers were capable, or better. There were various degrees of dramatic accomplishment. One wondered whether Mr. Siepi could lighten his deep, dark voice and summon sufficient flexibility and variety of color for the Don's part. He sang both the music and the text beautifully and skillfully throughout.

Less satisfactory was the unimpressive picture he gave us of the imperious, dissolute nobleman. He made the Don youthful to the point of adolescence-a sort of younger brother of the Don, with blond hair. But this Don would have caused no lady to tremble or seriously affected the tempo of her heartbeat. The virtue of the performance was the masterly singing.

Voice Fills the Role

In Miss Zadek we had a Donna Anna with the kind of voice needed for the part-a big, dramatic soprano with a properly broad and compelling style. A degree of nervousness, more than pardonable under the circumstances, at first affected the singer. But more and more Miss Zadek gained in dramatic power and in the brilliancy of her tones. It will be interesting to hear her in other parts and find out the range of her interpretative powers.

An exceptional figure in the picture was the grand Spanish lady of Donna Elvira, which Delia Rigal sang with unusual richness of tone and variety and with pathos and expression. Her singing, which was some of the best she had done here, nevertheless was guarded and not free, so that now and again something came between the singer and the audience. But this was the most appealing Elvira of our experience, a piteous figure, always noble, always a passionate character and lady of the great world.

Miss Conner sang with refinement and appropriateness the music of Zerlina.

If it was no disappointment to listen to the quality of his voice and its easy production, it was disappointing, indeed, to watch the smart-alecking of Mr. Kunz, the new Leporello, through the first two acts. He can do whatever he likes with his voice, which palliates many things in opera land. But here it is not enough.

The Leporello in Don Giovanni is more than a clown, or an officious comedian, who struts and prances about the stage, cheapening everything and making himself familiar and, indeed, insufferable in his posturing and caricaturing of his master. Leporello, servile, crafty, cowardly and conniving, never would have dared to behave toward the Don and his guests as he did ostentatiously most of the evening. He is a more mature character.

Lorenzo Alvary seemed to us rather splendidly attired for Masetto. While singing sonorously, he interpreted the part with his own stage business and his long authority in it.

Mr. Prandelli is a first-class musician and a singer who controls his voice in the most intelligent and artistic way-a singer, an artist and a stylist, too. Dezso Ernster has demonstrated the deep voice and the breadth of manner required by the Commendatore's brief, but portentous, role.

It is a pleasure to conclude by saying that Fritz Reiner conducted the orchestra and molded the ensemble with a mastery spirit, a rhythmic life and transparency of tone that made him the greatest Mozart interpreter of the evening.

Photograph of Hilde Zadek as Donna Anna by Sedge LeBlang.
Photograph of Erich Kunz as Leporello.



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