[Met Performance] CID:186250
Arabella {12} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/18/1960.

(Debut: Anneliese Rothenberger
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 18, 1960
In English


ARABELLA {12}
R. Strauss-Hofmannsthal

Arabella................Lisa Della Casa
Mandryka................George London
Zdenka..................Anneliese Rothenberger [Debut]
Matteo..................Barry Morell
Adelaide................Martha Lipton
Count Waldner...........Ralph Herbert
Fortuneteller...........Thelma Votipka
Count Elemer............Gabor Carelli
Count Dominik...........Roald Reitan
Count Lamoral...........Norman Scott
Fiakermilli.............Laurel Hurley
Welko...................Joseph Folmer
Djura...................Charles Kuestner
Jankel..................Erich Birlenbach
Waiter..................Rudolf Mayreder

Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf

Director................Herbert Graf
Staged by...............Hans Busch
Designer................Rolf Gérard

Translation by John Gutman

Arabella received five performances this season

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

'Arabella' Makes a Return to Stage of Metropolitan

Richard Strauss' "Arabella," which had been absent from the repertory for three seasons, returned to the Metropolitan Opera House last night in a performance which suggested that this work, with Hugo von Hofmannsthal's libretto about happily resolved misunderstandings in the Vienna of a century ago, improves upon acquaintance.

Lisa Della Casa has sung the title role here before this, and George London was the Mandryka when the Metropolitan first staged "Arabella" in 1955, but Zdenka was represented by Annaliese Rothenberger, a German soprano making her local debut, and Barry Morell sang his first Matteo. Messrs. Roitan and Scott, as Arabella's two other suitors, completed the list of newcomers to the cast.

Some of the merits of the score are more immediately evident than others; the drawbacks, such as they are, make themselves felt at a first hearing. We have Strauss's remarkable craftsmanship in interweaving vocal and orchestral strands of tone, his compelling mastery of instrumental color and his persuasiveness in musical depiction of emotion. But there are fewer melodic ideas that impress themselves readily in memory as compared with "Der Rosenkavalier" for instance. There are times when the action advances deliberately or certain situations seem talked over to excess.

But, reheard, "Arabella" is considerably more than a paler aftermath of "Rosenkavalier," which invites a possibly misleading comparison with its own Viennese locale. If fully rounded and cogent tunes are not plentiful, the later opera has its own type of often subtle lyric figures which are dovetailed in a continuous flow of music and which, in their contour and the hues provided them, give an air of finely realized, intimate and detailed expressiveness. This would be still more apparent if John Gutman's ably wrought English text had been fully understood, but the fully intelligible words were not in a majority. As a whole, "Arabella" has a definite atmosphere with considerable luminousness and its intimate measures are usually the most persuasive.

Miss Rothenberger, who has sung abroad in opera, television and films, made an auspicious start to her Metropolitan career as Arabella's sister, who wears male attire until the ultimate denouement. Light, but sufficient in volume, her voice displayed an engaging characteristic freshness of timbre along with musicianship in tone production, especially as it gained in firmness and prevailing clearness as the opera pursued its course. Dynamic shading was well controlled, and her singing of high-lying measures was often exceptionally delectable, while both her song and demeanor were expressively convincing.

Miss Della Casa's Arabella, extremely attractive to the eye, also carried conviction in the emotional hues of a voice marked by a liberal span of color employed with discernment. There was some variability in the lucidity and concentration of her tone at first, but her best vocal standards prevailed, for the most part, later on, and the first act duet with Miss Rothenberger was delectably sung by both participants. Mr. London's Mandryka, as before, was a positive, forceful impersonation which was also appropriate for the character in vocal color and delivery. Mr. Morell sang Matteo with fervor and shared with Mr. London the championship for enunciation.

Miss Lipton, Mr. Herbert and the other characters fared laudably in their roles. Miss Hurley's Fiakermilli was vivacious, fluent in voice with a slight touch of shrillness. In general the musical performance under Mr. Leinsdorf's direction was exceptional in its sensitiveness, its pacing and its just proportion which revealed the most delicate hues of Strauss' musical spectrum.



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