[Met Performance] CID:164020
La Forza del Destino {71} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/21/1953.

(Debut: Josef Metternich

Metropolitan Opera House
November 21, 1953 Matinee

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Leonora.................Zinka Milanov
Don Alvaro..............Richard Tucker
Don Carlo...............Josef Metternich [Debut]
Padre Guardiano.........Jerome Hines
Preziosilla.............Jean Madeira
Fra Melitone............Gerhard Pechner
Marquis de Calatrava....Luben Vichey
Curra...................Thelma Votipka
Trabuco.................Paul Franke
Surgeon.................George Cehanovsky

Conductor...............Fritz Stiedry

Director................Herbert Graf
Designer................Eugene Berman
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov

La Forza del Destino received ten performances this season.

Review of Ross Parmenter in The New York Times

Verdi's "La Forza del Destino," which was restored to the Metropolitan Opera repertory in a new production last year, was presented at the opera house yesterday. The report is that the production is still musically first class, though they are still tinkering with the arrangement of the musical numbers to make a satisfactory dramatic piece out of a somewhat rickety libretto.

The appearance of Zinka Milanov as Leonora and Richard Tucker as Alvaro was enough to insure top strength. In the cast, especially with such fine singers as Jerome Hines, Thelma Votipka and Gerhard Pechner in slightly lesser parts. And Josef Metternich, the new German baritone, maintained the high level by making an excellent Don Carlo in his auspicious Metropolitan debut.

With his thick black hair, his forceful stage presence and his convincing manner of acting, the new singer from Cologne was physically right for the part of the vengeful Spanish brother. When he began to sing it was apparent, too, that he was vocally right. He has a clear, strong, musical voice, which he uses with skill and authority and which is equal to the demands of Verdi's score

The audience gave him a big hand at the end of his long aria after his discovery that his friend of the battlefield was the man on whom he has sworn vengeance
For the death of his father. At the end of the scene, too, the applause obliged him to take three solo curtain calls, the last one being forced by the continuing plaudits, even though a change of lights indicated the management wanted to
get on with the opera.

The Overture of this opera is one of its most familiar numbers, so there were some in the audience who were puzzled when the big gold curtain looped up without it. The mystery was solved at the end of the first scene, for the Overture was given as an entre'acte while the scenery was being changed for the ensuing scene.

There was one advantage to this. Latecomers heard the whole Overture conducted with marvelous vigor by Fritz Stiedry, and those who were there from the start heard it without being distracted by those coming late, But the delay in the Overture's appearance did mean that the performance did not get off to the flying start that it would have had if he famous piece had been in its
accustomed place.

There were many changes in the Battlefield act. Here the numbers of revelry have always presented a problem in an otherwise somber opera. Last year they were given in a somewhat condensed form at the end of the act, ending with the somewhat musically cheap "rataplan" number.

This time the revelry numbers were inserted in the middle of the act. The "rataplan" was cut altogether and the scene of Trabuco, the peddler, was restored. Then the heavy drama was resumed when Don Carlo challenged Alvaro to a duel, followed by soldiers breaking it up and Alvaro leaving for a monastery.

The action was puzzling and rather hard to follow as a result, but considering the difficulties, perhaps this solution was as good as the earlier one. In the light of the musical and visual distinction of the production, it was not something one would quibble over.

All the singers received copious rounds of applause for their big numbers, and they were richly deserved. Mr. Tucker was consistently fine, so was Mme. Milanov, and the deep voice of Mr. Hines was a fine foil for the bright, sweet tones of Mme. Milanov in the scene in front of the church. Altogether, one would say they did "La Forza" almost as well as it is humanly possible to present it.

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