[Met Performance] CID:176770
La Forza del Destino {92} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/13/1958.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 13, 1958


LA FORZA DEL DESTINO {92}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Leonora.................Zinka Milanov
Don Alvaro..............Kurt Baum
Don Carlo...............Mario Sereni
Padre Guardiano.........William Wilderman
Preziosilla.............BelÚn Amparan
Fra Melitone............Gerhard Pechner
Marquis de Calatrava....Louis Sgarro
Curra...................Madelaine Chambers
Trabuco.................Alessio De Paolis
Surgeon.................George Cehanovsky

Conductor...............Pietro Cimara, Act I
Conductor...............Walter Hagen, Act I
Conductor...............Kurt Adler, Act I
Conductor...............Fritz Stiedry, Acts II, III

[Cimara fell ill while conducting the Convent Scene and was replaced for the rest of Act I first by Walter Hagen, a violinist in the orchestra, and then by Kurt Adler. Act II and III were conducted by Fritz Stiedry.]

Review of Rafael Kammerer in the February 1958 issue of Musical America

A capacity audience of 3,600 persons attending this Monday evening subscription performance of "La Forza del Destino" were witnesses to more tragedy than they anticipated when Pietro Cimara, associate conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, who was conducting for the first time this season, suffered a stroke at the beginning of the second scene in Act I.

Walter Hagen, a violinist in the orchestra who had gone to the aid of Mr. Cimara, took over the conductorial duties and kept the scene going until Kurt Adler, chorus master, arrived to finish the act. During intermission, Rudolf Bing announced that Mr. Cimara, gravely ill, had been rushed to a hospital, and that Fritz Stiedry, summoned from his home, would conduct the remaining two acts of the opera.

That the opera went off without a hitch-not a beat was lost-speaks well not only for the alertness of Mr. Hagen, who had never conducted before, but for the Metropolitan's efficient organization to cope with emergencies. This was probably the first time in operatic history that four conductors led a single operatic performance. Right from the start, Mr. Cimara had set the pace for an inspired performance, and it remained just that throughout.

Kurt Baum, a last-minute replacement for the indisposed Flaviano Labo, was in top form, vocally and histrionically. Zinka Milanov, singing her familiar role of Leonora, outdid herself in the beauty, variety and brilliancy of her vocal accomplishments. William Wilderman, in the role of Padre Guardiano, brought a simple, kindly dignity to the character. A tall, spare figure with flowing white hair and pointed beard, he looked every inch the patriarchal friar. Although his singing was somewhat monochromatic, his voice had a fitting priestly gravity.

Gerhard Pechner, as Melitone, and Alessio De Paolis, as Trabucco, gave noteworthy performances of the buffo roles. Louis Sgarro was a princely Marquis of Calatrava, if less satisfying as a vocalist, while Mario Sereni was a more convincing Don Carlo in his singing than he was as an actor. Belen Amparan (Preziosilla), Madelaine Chambers (Curra), and George Cehanovsky (A Surgeon) were the well-cast members in other roles.



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