[Met Performance] CID:164130
Il Trovatore {270} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/2/1953.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 2, 1953


IL TROVATORE {270}
Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Kurt Baum
Leonora.................Zinka Milanov
Count Di Luna...........Robert Merrill
Azucena.................Jean Madeira
Ferrando................Nicola Moscona
Ines....................Maria Leone
Ruiz....................Thomas Hayward
Messenger...............James McCracken
Gypsy...................Algerd Brazis

Conductor...............Fausto Cleva

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

Il Trovatore received eleven performances this season.

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

Verdi's "Il Trovatore" was heard for the first time this season at a special performance on Dec. 2, for the benefit of the Free Milk Fund For Babies. The performance was highly variable in quality, but it was by no means lacking in dramatic vitality. Fausto Cleva seemed to be in a nervous mood and his tempos were uneven, with sudden bursts of speed that kept the singers constantly on the alert.

The most intense characterization of the evening was that of Azucena by Jean Madeira. This young artist gave a very creditable performance. She has sung the role with a more shrewdly controlled scale of vocal dynamics and less emotional abandon; but this was a whole-hearted interpretation and her voice withstood the considerable strain she put upon it with reassuring freshness. Her costume and wig could be improved upon; and she would be more convincing if she were less consistently vehement, bringing out more strongly other sides of Azucena's personality, such as her affection for Manrico. But her performance had the passion and the vocal force so necessary for this superb blood-and-thunder role.

Zinka Milanov, as Leonora, sang magnificently after a tense first act. She was in especially good form in the coloratura passages of the role, in which she combined mobility with a full-bodied tone of lustrous quality. Kurt Baum was a dependable Manrico. He would have been wiser to omit the gratuitous high C at the end of "Di quella pira," for although it brought him an ovation it was achieved with perceptible effort and added nothing to the artistic stature of his performance. Robert Merrill's rich voice sounded well in the role of Count di Luna. His singing of "Il balen," however, was a bit erratic in rhythm and phrasing. Dramatically, he brought more fire to his interpretation of the part than he has on previous occasions.

Maria Leone was heard in the role of Inez for the first time at the Metropolitan. She sang it intelligently, but the quality of her voice in loud passages was somewhat gritty, as if she were forcing it for the sake of mere volume. James McCracken sang the minor role of a Messenger for the first time at the Metropolitan. Nicola Moscona was the Ferrando; Thomas Hayward, Ruiz; and Algerd Brazis, a Gypsy. The stage action, like the tempos and general musical ensemble, was helter-skelter and obviously in need of more careful rehearsal. The chorus sang well, especially in the pianissimo passages.>



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