[Met Performance] CID:170130
Rigoletto {357} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/29/1955.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 29, 1955


RIGOLETTO {357}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Robert Merrill
Gilda...................Roberta Peters
Duke of Mantua..........Eugene Conley
Maddalena...............Rosalind Elias
Sparafucile.............Nicola Moscona
Monterone...............Norman Scott
Borsa...................Gabor Carelli
Marullo.................Clifford Harvuot
Count Ceprano...........Calvin Marsh
Countess Ceprano........Heidi Krall
Giovanna................Thelma Votipka
Page....................Vilma Georgiou
Guard...................Louis Sgarro

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

Review signed F. M in Musical America

Singing his first Rigoletto of the season, Robert Merrill disclosed the vocal richness one has come to expect from him in this meaty role. The baritone's acting has gained assurance. Although he still cannot resist bringing down the house at the end of an aria, his stage deportment in general showed a restraint, an over-all cohesiveness of interpretation and an inner resourcefulness that added stature to his readings of Verdi's warped hero; the changes of mood in Act III particularly, were enough to send shiver's down one's spine. It is in an aria such as "Cortigiani, vil razza dannata" that Mr. Merrill continues to sound most at home, musically speaking. He rose superbly to dramatic accents, to shadings of one passion or another, whereas more purely lyrical moments--the second-act duet with Gilda is a case in point-- seemed to receive rather short shrift and to uncover a certain hollowness of tone or coarseness of production. The part of Rigoletto, however, hardly calls for sustained bel canto. Mr. Merrill's characterization was a highly effective one.

What it means to sing Verdi with flawless technique, but a paucity of fire, was demonstrated by Eugene Conley, again substituting as the Duke of Mantua for an indisposed Jan Peerce. Mr. Conley's singing was easily the most beautiful of the evening: in "Manon" it would have been entirely successful. While one must continue to admire this tenor's great gifts and increasing physical aplomb, one had to admit that this was not the ideal Duke. Roberta Peters, on the other hand, acted an admirable Gilda and sang very well - although lately her treatment of her top octave has given one an uneasy feeling that she may be toying with the idea of becoming a dramatic soprano.

Rosalind Elias repeated her sumptuous Maddalena, Nicola Moscona his sinister Sparafucile; the others were the same. Fausto Cleva conducted with accustomed spirit, and the Berman sets and costumes still look magnificent.



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