[Met Performance] CID:164090
Rigoletto {343} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 11/28/1953.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 28, 1953 Matinee


RIGOLETTO {343}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Robert Merrill
Gilda...................Hilde Güden
Duke of Mantua..........Eugene Conley
Maddalena...............Jean Madeira
Sparafucile.............Luben Vichey
Monterone...............Norman Scott
Borsa...................Paul Franke
Marullo.................Clifford Harvuot
Count Ceprano...........George Cehanovsky
Countess Ceprano........Maria Leone
Giovanna................Thelma Votipka
Page....................Sandra Warfield
Guard...................Algerd Brazis

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

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

Rigoletto received twelve performances this season.

Review of Robert Sabin in the December 15, 1953 issue of Musical America

Robert Merrill sang the title role in the season's first performance of Verdi's "Rigoletto," at a special non-subscription performance. That he is in the process of deepening his conception of the part was evident in many passages, especially in the second and third acts, where he achieved striking intensity. Rigoletto's despair at his daughter's abduction and the alterations of rage, fear and pitiful entreaty in the scene with the courtiers in the following act were vividly conveyed. Most of the afternoon, Mr. Merrill was in excellent vocal form, although there were a few places where he had trouble with pitch. As his dramatic understanding of the role grows, his singing of it is taking on richer colors and a wider expressive range.

Hilde Güden was a visually and vocally lovely Gilda. The purity and vitality of her singing were a constant joy. She by no means exhausted the tragic possibilities of the part, but everything she did was effective and in good taste. Especially to be commended was her sensitive singing in the ensembles, where she exercised a consideration for her fellow artists that they did not invariably return.

Eugene Conley, as the Duke, began a bit tensely, but in the later acts his singing gained in ease, freshness of tone and elasticity of phrasing. He can develop still greater finish of style and a more imposing dramatic format in this role. Mr. Conley had the dash, the dramatic verve and the youthfulness for the part, but he should not have leaned so heavily upon those qualities in his performance.

Lubomir Vichegonov was in splendid form as Sparafucile; his exit in Act II was vocally and dramatically one of the high points of the performance. Jean Madeira exhibited enough temperament and voluptuous warmth for half a dozen Maddalenas. Her performance was vivid, but it would have been even better if she had exercised more dramatic restraint and vocal discretion in her use of chest tones. She was a comely figure and her voice had the proper richness and dark timbre for the role, but almost everything was overdone.

Maria Leone and Sandra Warfield, who had made their debuts with the company as two Peasant Girls in Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" the previous week, again proved to be dependable artists in the minor roles of Countess Ceprano and the Page, which they took for the first time at the Metropolitan. The others in the cast were Thelma Votipka as Giovanna, Norman Scott as Monterone, Clifford Harvuot as Marullo, Paul Franke as Borsa, George Cehanovsky as Count Ceprano, and Algerd Brazis as the Chief Guard.

Alberto Erede conducted with great musical sensitivity and imagination, but in a rhythmically erratic and technically none too secure fashion. He gave his singers too much rope in some passages and not enough in others, which resulted in some minor discrepancies between the orchestra and the stage, notably in climactic phrases and endings of the arias.

The Metropolitan's production of "Rigoletto" is sturdy and satisfying. Eugene Berman's decor and costumes are solid and elegant and Herbert Graf's direction (though the performance varies somewhat with varying casts) still makes excellent dramatic sense.



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