[Met Performance] CID:181600
La Forza del Destino: Convent Scene
Verdi Requiem Mass {32}
Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 03/27/1959.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 27, 1959 Matinee


Leonora.................Heidi Krall
Padre Guardiano.........Giorgio Tozzi

Conductor...............Bruno Walter

Verdi: REQUIEM MASS {32}

Soloist.................Heidi Krall
Soloist.................Rosalind Elias
Soloist.................Carlo Bergonzi
Soloist.................Giorgio Tozzi

Conductor...............Bruno Walter

The Verdi Requiem Mass received two performances this season.

Review of Ronald Eyer in the April 1959 issue of Musical America

Verdi's Requiem Mass in honor of the Italian Poet, Alessandro Manzoni, took the place of Wagner's "Parsifal" this year as the Metropolitan's Good Friday observance for the first time since 1951 On both occasions the conductor was Bruno Walter. The Mass was preceded by the Convent Scene from "La Forza del Destino," presented in concert form.

The soprano role was taken on short notice by Heidi Krall, replacing Zinka Milanov who had been taken ill. The other soloists were Rosalind Elias, mezzo-soprano; Carlo Bergonzi, tenor; and Giorgio Tozzi, bass.

The performance was, on the whole, a stirring one, thanks largely to the inspiring presence of Bruno Walter, the 82-year-old conductor, whose activities unhappily are much curtailed these days, is a man of deep religiosity who can probe to the core of a vast and exhaustive devotional work such as the Manzoni Requiem with a spiritual conviction that passes mere "interpretation." Verdi was not a notably religious man, and this Requiem often appears more theatrical than pious. Nevertheless, it is an act of pure reverence for a great national figure before whom the composer stood in awe and wonder.

The forces most completely in rapport with Mr. Walter's grand design of the performance were the Metropolitan orchestra and chorus. All of the powerful contrasts of color and dynamics were given full sway, but within a framework of just balance and artistic proportions. In the double fugue of the "Sanctus", the driving climax of the "Libera Me", and elsewhere when power was combined with precision of ensemble, the chorus was at its impressive best. Its pianissimos sometimes were wanting in that floating, ethereal quality in which less professional choruses often excel.

Miss Krall, obviously and understandably nervous in the beginning, gained confidence as she went along and managed the relentlessly high tessitura of the soprano role, including the sustained E of the "Offertorium", with laudable dexterity. The rich mezzo tones of Miss Elias gave a luminous character to "et lux perpetua." Messrs. Bergonzi and Tozzi both summoned spiritual fervor in such solemn moments as the "Hostias," "Ingemisco," and "Confutatis maledictis."

Only in the soloists' ensembles were there unsatisfactory moments. Due, perhaps, to the disconcerting change in cast, there was an occasional lack of cohesion and even some disagreement on the pitch. The quartet in the "Dies Irae" was the best of the concerted numbers. The scene from "Forza," though splendidly sung by Miss Krall, Mr. Tozzi, and the men's chorus, seemed awkward and unnecessary as a curtain-raiser for the Mass.

Mr. Walter was greeted with a standing ovation when he entered the orchestra pit, and the capacity audience, despite the solemnity of the occasion, expressed its satisfaction with all the participants with thunderous applause at the conclusion.

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