[Met Performance] CID:181650
Don Carlo {50} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 03/31/1959.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 31, 1959
In Italian

Giuseppe Verdi--François Joseph Méry/Camille du Locle

Don Carlo...............Eugenio Fernandi
Elizabeth of Valois.....Leonie Rysanek
Rodrigo.................Frank Guarrera
Princess Eboli..........Blanche Thebom
Philip II...............Jerome Hines
Grand Inquisitor........Hermann Uhde
Celestial Voice.........Martina Arroyo
Friar...................Louis Sgarro
Tebaldo.................Madelaine Chambers
Count of Lerma..........Robert Nagy
Countess of Aremberg....Audrey Keane
Herald..................William Olvis

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

Review of Max de Schauensee in the Evening Bulletin

Performance of Verdi's 'Don Carlo' Ends Met Opera Company Season Here

The Metropolitan Opera Association ended its 1958-59 season of seven operas at The Academy of Music last night with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "Don Carlo," not heard here since November 28 1950. Rudolf Bing's choice was a replacement for the originally scheduled "Wozzeck," by Alban Berg which has been the hit of the current season in New York.

"Don Carlo," the superbly gloomy, shadow-haunted opera of Verdi's middle period, can be a very impressive experience. Last night it somehow missed. There seemed to be lassitude in the house as well as on the stage: maybe it was "fin-de-saison" fatigue. Many of the people who composed the large audience left before the last scene, for the performance was of four hours' duration.

There were many changes from the 1950 offering, and these were for the most part not for the better. Margaret Webster's illuminating stage direction seems to have gone up in smoke. Probably it is too much to expect that her precepts should be remembered after more than eight years. Fausto Cleva worked hard in the pit ("Don Carlo" is new for him at the Met this year), but he didn't seem to enkindle much responsive fire.

Difficult to Present

"Don Carlo," with its complicated story of suppression, revolt and superstition, of unloved monarchs and unruly sons, is a difficult opera to put on with real conviction and style. It requires an effort on the part of the audience as well as those on stage. To come with no preparation and knowledge of what is taking place during this four-hour stint would be utterly fatal for any spectator. From what one heard in the aisles last night, "Don Carlo" was shrouded in veils of mystery as thick as the fog that hung over the city yesterday.

And yet there were several good things last night. Best of all was Jerome Hines' magnificent Philip II, regal in bearing and mellowed to the point of an ardently convincing portrait. Hines sang his great scene "Ella giammai m'amo," perhaps better than any bass could today. Also good was Frank Guarrera's account of Posa's final death scene with some expressive singing.

Presentations Vary

Leone Rysanek, so impressive as Lady Macbeth, was less so as Elisabetta di Valois. One suspects that this music does not show the Austrian soprano at her best. There are too many phrases in the lower voice during the early acts and Miss Rysanek has to wait three and a half hours before she can show her best wares in "Tu che la Vanita."

Eugenio Fernandi has no distinction whatsoever as the son of the King of Spain, and he forces his basically beautiful voice until it falls short of pitch. Blanche Thebom, filling the indisposed Nell Rankin, gave a vigorous account Eboli and sang with variable tone. Hermann Uhde was the best Grand Inquisitor since Hans Hotter's unforgettable and utterly terrifying portrait of the 90 year old prelate and his catapulted dicturns. Louis Sgarro sounded well as the shade of the Emperor Charles V.

While grateful for the opportunity to witness this wonderful opera, we cannot feel that this was one of the Metropolitan's truly enthusiastic performances.

Photograph of Leonie Rysanek as Elizabeth of Valois and Blanche Thebom as Princess Eboli in Don Carlo by Mark Hagmann.

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