[Met Performance] CID:184290
New Production
Simon Boccanegra {28} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/1/1960.

(Debut: Athena Vicos

Metropolitan Opera House
March 1, 1960
Benefit sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild
for the production funds
New Production

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave/Arrigo Boito

Simon Boccanegra........Leonard Warren
Amelia..................Mary Curtis-Verna
Gabriele Adorno.........Richard Tucker
Jacopo Fiesco...........Giorgio Tozzi
Paolo Albiani...........Ezio Flagello
Pietro..................Norman Scott
Maid....................Athena Vicos [Debut]
Captain.................Robert Nagy

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

Director................Margaret Webster
Set designer............Frederick Fox
Costume designer........Motley

Production a gift of The Metropolitan Opera Guild

Simon Boccanegra received thirteen performances this season.

Review of Louis Biancolli in the World Telegram and Sun
Thanks largely to Dimitri Mitropoulos and a strong all-American cast, Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra"-absent for a decade from the Metropolitan stage-began a new lease on life last night.

Sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the sprawling saga of politic intrigue in 14th century Genoa was brilliantly staged by Margaret Webster. The production is a credit to Rudolf Bing's wide-ranging tastes.

Mr. Mitropoulos combined dynamic power and supreme refinement in conducting this intermediary opera of Verdi's that ranges in style from the lyric freshness of "Il Trovatore" to the raging holocaust of "Otello."

A fiasco when first heard in 1857, "Simon Boccanegra" was given drastic overhauling a quarter of a century later, the result being a score that at its best is one short step from Verdi's Shakespearean masterpiece.

It was that miracle man of librettists, Arrigo Boito, who patched up Piave's impossible book and inspired Verdi to revise and compose music that rescued "Simon Boccanegra" from complete disaster.

Not that the opera is an open book as it now stands. The mistaken identities, aliases, time lapses, unexplained appearances and disappearances make "La Gioconda" seem like a nursery rhyme in comparison.

Special citation would have been in order last night for those fortunate few who could without arduous previous study, explain just who was saying what at any given moment and why.

The beauty of it is that it didn't very much matter. Time and again, a scene took fire, a character burst into compelling utterance, and the orchestra seethed with that living commotion that is Verdi's.

There is one stately scene that not even Moussorgsky in "Boris Godounoff" surpassed, and that is the confrontation of Boccanegra and his malign secret foe Paolo in the council chamber of the Genovese ruler.

That was one of the great moments of the Metropolitan season last night-the swirling agitation of the mob, the clashing factions, the cringing schemer and majestic wrath of Leonard Warren as Boccanegra.

Mr. Warren was obviously saving his voice for his magnificent scene. He rose to it nobly, and for the rest of the evening the portrayal evolved as one of his most accomplished.

This was true, too, of Ezio Flagello's Paolo-an interpretation of sinister and unctuous power. Lingering traces of a recent illness prevented Giorgio Tozzi's performance as Fiesco from being even more gripping than it was.

For lyrical beauty and ardent delivery nobody excelled Richard Tucker last night. As Gabriele Adorno the tenor was in complete command of his golden voice, and one would have sworn he was to the Italian manner born.

Assuming a gruelling assignment... Mary Curtis-Verna sang the part of Amelia with care and intelligence, and Norman Scott was typically adroit in the role of Pietro.

Miss Webster rates high priase for her distinguished staging; so does Kurt Adler for his training of the chorus. But the hero of the occasion was that fervid and dedicated genius Dimitri Mitropoulos. And of course, Giuseppe Verdi.

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