[Met Performance] CID:180360
Cavalleria Rusticana {395}
Pagliacci {434}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 12/2/1958.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
December 2, 1958


Santuzza................Zinka Milanov
Turiddu.................Primo Zambruno [Last performance]
Lola....................Rosalind Elias
Alfio...................Cesare Bardelli
Mamma Lucia.............Thelma Votipka

Conductor...............Dimitri Mitropoulos


Nedda...................Lucine Amara
Canio...................Mario Del Monaco
Tonio...................Robert Merrill
Silvio..................Mario Sereni
Beppe...................Charles Anthony
Villager................Joseph Folmer
Villager................William Starling

Conductor...............Dimitri Mitropoulos

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

'Cavalleria Rusticana' and 'Pagliacci' Superbly Sung by Metropolitan Opera at the Academy

Pietro Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" and Ruggiero Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci," sometimes called just "Cav" and "Pag" and at other times "ham and eggs," constituted the Metropolitan Opera Association's second offering of the 1958-59 season at the Academy of Music last night.

The twin bill was also brought here by the Metropolitan in February, 1951, but last night's productions were completely refurbished, restudied and recast. The Santuzza of eight years ago, Mme. Zinka Milanov was again present. Otherwise, all the major elements involved in the presentation of the two fiery little Southern Italian Operas were fresh and new.

Rudolf Bing engaged Jose Quintero, famed Broadway director, to stage the twin bill and thus give it an element of complete novelty. It is said that Mr. Quintero had never seen or heard either opera before he tackled the job.

Good, Solid Job

Surprisingly he came up with a good, solid job that stuck very close to convention and tradition. And yet this is not surprising, for it is far easier to break with tradition when one is long familiar with it than to flout conventions when one must begin from scratch

Mr. Quintero's direction was fluid but not entirely devoid of self-consciousness as when the Sicilian maidens, arrayed in their Sunday bests, sat down in the dust of the village square.

But Mr. Quintero scored some nice touches, particularly in the finale of "Pagliacci," and did not burden his singers with techniques that were alien to them or to the highly specialized climate of grand opera.

There were new sets by Rolf Gerard which were appropriately stark, simple and evocative of Sicily and the Abruzzi. His costumes would suggest that these Sicilian belles spent a good deal of time on their finery.

Mitropoulos Conducts

Dimiri Mitropoulos was also new as conductor of these operas and the melodramatic accent of Mascagni and Leoncavallo seemed to fit his dramatic temperament like a glove.

Mme. Milanov, the only leftover from eight years ago, was in excellent voice as Santuzza, and while her appearance now suggests maturity, her entire performance was a carryover from the grand tradition of the big line of opera's palmiest days.
A new young tenor, Primo Zambruno, after a throaty Siciliana, sang an admirable Turiddu and managed to create certain sympathy for the weak but hapless youth. Cesare Bardelli, an old friend to Philadelphia opera lovers, was a vengeful, sombre-voiced Alfio, and Rosalind Elias a dressy foil of rounded tones for the desperate Santuzza. Thelma Votipka was well in the picture as Mamma Lucia. A minor blemish was the disturbing fondness of the electronic organ during the famous Intermezzo.

Del Monaco Superb

"Pagliacci," which was really much the better of the two performances, was completely dominated by the thrilling and superb Canio of Mario Del Monaco.
Mr. Del Monaco has that consuming belief in his role, that electric magnetism which can suddenly make a performance become real. It is rather like snapping on a light that has not been lit before.

Except for one or two moments of faulty intonation, as in "A ventri-tre ore," the Italian tenor was in magnificent voice, using his potent instrument to shape the drama to its tragic close. "Vesti la giubba" suddenly brought one to grips with living drama and the dignity and stature he gave the betrayed husband was no ordinary operatic experience.

I have always felt that Robert Merrill often doesn't make the most of an outstanding voice. Much of the Prologue was sung with an organ-like tone at the disposal of few of today's baritones, but the high notes at the close should have been prolonged to attain the desired effect. Nevertheless, Mr. Merrill's Tonio is a fine one.

Lucine Amara sang prettily and acted prettily, but there was little of the earth about her Nedda who, after all, is a determined woman about to make a shattering decision. Miss Amara's Mardi Gras figurine should be set more in line with Mr. Del Monaco's Canio. Mario Sereni sang Silvio's music with fine lyric tones and Charles Anthony was a sprightly Beppe.

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