[Met Performance] CID:186880
Rigoletto {400} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/19/1961.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 19, 1961

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Cornell MacNeil
Gilda...................Anna Moffo
Duke of Mantua..........Dino Formichini
Maddalena...............Mignon Dunn
Sparafucile.............William Wilderman
Monterone...............Bonaldo Giaiotti
Borsa...................Gabor Carelli
Marullo.................Clifford Harvuot
Count Ceprano...........George Cehanovsky
Countess Ceprano........Teresa Stratas
Giovanna................Thelma Votipka
Page....................Joan Wall
Guard...................Paul De Paola

Conductor...............Kurt Adler

Review of Winthrop Sargeant in the New Yorker of January 28, 1961

Boffo for Miss Moffo

In writing those comparatively rare columns that might be entitled "If I Were Bing" or "Bing for a Day" - columns in which I presume to tell Mr. Rudolf Bing how I think he should run his opera house - I assume the risk of belatedly discovering that Mr. Bing has been planning to do something or other than I have just loudly proclaimed he ought to do. This occurred last week when the public announcement that Wagner's "Ring" cycle is to be revived next season hit the newsstands at the precise moment my piece complaining about its neglect appeared in print. Needless to say, I am delighted to have been anticipated in this matter. The "Ring" will be very welcome after its four years of absence from the repertory, and I look forward to hearing it again.

Meanwhile, last week's events at the Metropolitan were brightened by at least two new ventures in casting: Victoria de los Angeles' appearance as Elisabeth in "Tannhäuser" (which, unfortunately, I missed) and the first appearance as Gilda in Thursday night's "Rigoletto," of the young Philadelphia soprano Anna Moffo, which I found more than gratifying. Miss Moffo, whose appearances last season, in "La Traviata," were sudden and brief - the press of other events kept me from attending them - is a beautiful figure on the stage and an actress of considerable natural endowments. Rumor had prepared me to expect these things, but I was not prepared for the elegant and nearly flawless quality of her singing the other night. Though she is officially listed as a lyric soprano, the coloratura hurdles of Gilda's role held no terrors for her whatever. She negotiated her trills and rapid scale passages with the utmost aplomb, singing every note beautifully in tune and with the most fastidious sense of emphasis imaginable. Unlike the general run of coloratura sopranos one hears in this role, she has a voice of great expressive character, capable of underlining the emotions of the part and giving it real dramatic eloquence. Her "Caro nome" was a demonstration of cultivated style that sent my mind back through memories of countless Gildas, beginning with Amelita Galli-Curci (whom I remember in her final years as a brilliant and evocative singer with an unfortunate tendency to get off pitch), and nowhere could I find a more charming version of this aria. Later on, in the third act duets - I found a few flaws. There was one rather squeezed high note (though even this was perfect in intonation), and Miss Moffo's voice is not quite large enough as yet to make a really stunning effect in the role's more robust bravura passages. But the flaws were slight, and they were concerned with mere physical volume, rather than artistry. Considering the fact that Miss Moffo is only twenty-six, it seems obvious to me that we have in her the makings of a great diva.

The other members of the cast ranged from adequate to very good indeed. Cornell MacNeil's Rigoletto, while it does not have quite the heart-rending lyricism of the late Leonard Warren's, is a worthy and at times a quite affecting interpretation. William Wildermann's Sparafucile is superbly sung. Dino Formichini, as the Duke, has a very pleasant voice when it is not forced, and a sense of musical style that seemed to me somewhat callow. His appoggiaturas in "E il sol dll'anima," for example, were not sung with the scrupulousness that one expects from a finished artist. Still, in a somewhat unsophisticated way, he managed to produce an agreeable impression, and the total production, with its fine scenery by Eugene Berman and some crisp conducing by Kurt Adler, was well worth attending.

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