[Met Performance] CID:170140
Carmen {531} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/30/1955.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 30, 1955


CARMEN {531}

Carmen..................Risë Stevens
Don José................Giuseppe Di Stefano
Micaela.................Lucine Amara
Escamillo...............Frank Guarrera
Frasquita...............Heidi Krall
Mercédès................Margaret Roggero
Remendado...............Paul Franke
Dancaïre................George Cehanovsky
Zuniga..................Norman Scott
Moralès.................Calvin Marsh
Dance...................Zebra Nevins
Dance...................Adriano Vitale

Conductor...............Max Rudolf

Review of Robert Sabin in Musical America

Giuseppe Di Stefano, absent from the Metropolitan Opera since the 1951-52 season, returned in the season's third performance of Bizet's "Carmen" to give his first Metropolitan performance of the rôle of Don José, which he had sung at La Scala and elsewhere.

It was good to hear his beautiful voice again, and to observe that he has improved in stage deportment and dramatic ability in the meantime. Although his voice sounded a bit dry and whittled down in the first act, it gained in volume and luster as the evening progressed, and at all times it had the caress, the plasticity, and the exciting quality that characterize all good Italian tenors. What a pity that Mr. Di Stefano became flustered at the close of the Flower Song, spoiling Bizet's most felicitous harmonic touch! Up to that point, he had sung it more beautifully than anyone I have heard in years. It was in the last act, however, that he was at his best. His Don José was a pitiable, broken victim, only slowly rising to a fury of murderous resentment and despair. Vocally and dramatically this was a notable achievement. Earlier, he had seemed stiff and uneasy, but he obviously has the makings of a good actor, and he is already a singer whom the Metropolitan should cherish.

Rise Stevens was in an ebullient mood, as Carmen, and was most convincing, artistically speaking, in the card scene. Lucine Amara, whose Micaela was one of her early major successes at the Metropolitan, sang delightfully: and Heidi Krall and Margaret Roggero almost stole the show, as Frasquita and Mercedes. It was a keen pleasure to hear these highly important rôles sung with such bravura. Frank Guarrera was admirable, as Escamillo; his Toreador Song actually evoked a bullfight, and in the third act, also, he made Escamillo a thoroughly believable and likable character.

Others in the cast were Norman Scott, a bluff and engaging Zuniga; Calvin Marsh, as Morales; George Cehanovsky as Dancaire; and Paul Franke, as Remendado. Zebra Nevins and Adriano Vitale danced a spirited, if hectic, pas de deux in Act IV.

Having heard Max Rudolf conduct a distinguished Philharmonic Symphony program only recently, I wish that I could praise his work on this occasion, but I regret to say that his tempos were hurried and his conception of the score superficial; the singers dominated over the conductor far too much.



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