[Met Performance] CID:170110
Così Fan Tutte {36} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/26/1955.


Metropolitan Opera House
November 26, 1955
In English

Mozart-Da Ponte

Fiordiligi..............Eleanor Steber
Ferrando................Cesare Valletti
Dorabella...............Blanche Thebom
Guglielmo...............Frank Guarrera
Despina.................Patrice Munsel
Don Alfonso.............John Brownlee

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

Production..............Alfred Lunt
Designer................Rolf Gérard

Translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin

Così Fan Tutte received six performances this season.

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday Review


EVERY so often, when one is inclined to have doubts on the subject, the Metropolitan Opera brings back "Don Carlo" or "Cosi" or "Rigoletto" and the durable standards of stagecraft and musical execution which have characterized Rudolf Bing's work at its best become apparent again. Of late it has been "Cosi" ("Rigoletto" in the Berman production is also back this season, but its first presentation was marred by the substitution of Eugene Conley for Jan Peerce), with almost the same cast that has been singing it, off and on, since 1951, The visual frame is still Rolf Gerard's handsome one, the production still credited to Alfred Lunt, though somewhat encrusted with "improvements" provided by other hands.

Oddly enough, as the visual elements become a little dull and shopworn from usage and warehousing, the musical projection becomes tighter-knit, more certain and flavorsome. The basic performers-Eleanor Steber, Blanche Thebom, Frank Guarrera, John Brownlee, and Patrice Munsel - have now appeared together something like fifteen times in four different seasons, almost always under the direction of Fritz Stiedry, and they have had ample time for first, second, and third thoughts on their roles. As a result, they have attained an expertness in working together which is a delight to experience. They can also absorb such a new element as Cesare Valletti's Ferrando without disturbing their values, and deriving something fresh from his.

On this occasion Stiedry was more compelling and forward-moving in his direction than most times before, while spinning the melodic web as he well knows how to do. The orchestra seemed to relish the opportunity for Mozart's sonorities after the heavy-going of Verdi's "Ballo in Maschera" earlier in the day, all the performers were vocally able, and the flow of sound was close to unabated bliss. Steber has rarely managed "Come scoglio" and "Per pieta" (in their English equivalents of this Martin translation) so well, Miss Thebom was her associate in assurance, and Miss Munsel returns with an added breadth to her still-developing voice (she is, after all, only thirty), a grateful precision in florid singing, and a sparkling clarity in enunciation of the English text. This is, of course, Valletti's principal problem, which he surmounted rather well for a first time. He is otherwise polished in his management of Mozartian matter, with hardly the vocal abundance of a Tucker, but compensating with more flexibility. Brownlee's Don Alfonso was typically suave, also profiting from his presently favorable vocal condition, and Guarrera is now a pretty fine Guglielmo.
As to the "improvements," it is as well that Alfred Lunt is busy with his new Russell Crouse-Howard Lindsay play, for he might be in a dueling mood were he to visit the Met for its current "Cosi." All goes well and properly for a while, but there soon begin to creep in little asides,
broadenings of his highly calculated dramatic design, and what can only be called gosh-awful "improvisations" by one or another member of the cast. If Rudolf Bing still remembers where his whip is he should crack it over some of the miscalculated funny business, which not merely blemishes Lunt's valued reputation, but puts in belly-laughs where Mozart was aiming for a higher region of the anatomy. Worst of all, the ill-timed guffaws drown out measures of Mozart's lovable score which cannot be spared. To be blunt; let's have Lunt.

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