[Met Performance] CID:164850
Il Trovatore {275} The American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 02/9/1954.

(Debut: Gino Penno

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 9, 1954

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Gino Penno [Debut]
Leonora.................Zinka Milanov
Count Di Luna...........Robert Merrill
Azucena.................Fedora Barbieri
Ferrando................Nicola Moscona
Ines....................Maria Leone
Ruiz....................Thomas Hayward
Messenger...............James McCracken
Gypsy...................Algerd Brazis

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

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia)

The performance of "Trovatore' presented by the Metropolitan Opera Association at the Academy of Music last night should live long in the memory of those who heard it, for it was in every way an exciting and engrossing occasion.

Rarely does one hear a cast of singers in such prodigal mood, a quartet of artists who found themselves at the very peak of their communicative powers.

Nor was Fausto Cleva, in the orchestra pit, one inch behind the thrilling things that took place on the stage. He conducted Verdi's wonderfully vital old opera with an unswerving belief in the music and its power to kindle.

Seldom has an audience responded with such warmth. The large gathering frequently interrupted each scene to applaud an artist, an aria or a duet, and the acclaim had that spontaneous ring that cannot be counterfeited.

Familiar in Roles

Mme. Zinka Milanov and Leonard Warren were familiar here in the roles of Leonora and Count di Luna. Last night they outdid themselves. Mme. Milanov is a throwback to such singers as Destinn, Ponselle and Muzio-sopranos already enshrined in revered memory. She is the best example of a Verdi dramatic soprano before the public today, both vocally and stylistically. Her beautiful voice with its ravishing pianissimi was at its best in the final act.

Mr. Warren was in splendid voice and added to the laurels he has often gathered at the Academy of Music.

There was 'a new Manrico in Gino Penno, an Italian tenor who made his North American debut in this performance; the Azucena of Fedora Barbieri also carried an element of novelty.

Mr. Penno is a really notable addition to the Metropolitan's staff of tenors. He is not just another tenor, but an artistic and dramatic personality of particular color and potency.

Here is a true dramatic singer with a large and sonorous voice that can be extremely expressive, There are moments of constriction and hardness of tone, to be sure, but the way the tenor manages a voice that nature has not made too ductile or tractable cannot fail but arouse the respect and admiration of anybody who knows anything about operatic singing and its demands.

Commanding Presence

Unusually handsome, Mr. Penno has a commanding presence, is an admirable musician, an artist in the real sense of the word. He makes sense, which is rare for a "Trovatore" tenor, and he can thrill, as he did with his trumpet-like B's the "Di quella pira," or charm with a feeling of true tenderness, as in the "A! nostri monti" The Metropolitan has fallen upon a singer who is likely to
have a distinguished career within its ranks.

Miss Barbieri's Azucena was a wonderfully vibrant and vigorous impersonation; one of the best seen and heard in this city. She is a convincing actress and her fine voice is at the disposal of a strong and compelling temperament. There were no dull moments while she was on the stage.

Of course, there were occasional lapses and imperfections in the singing of the entire cast, but it seems definitely out of place to consider them when faced by such a thrilling evening. Old "Trovatore" has not flamed like this within my memory.

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