[Met Performance] CID:187820
Aida {646} Metropolitan Opera House: 04/14/1961.

(Debuts: Biserka Cvejic, Ingrid Blecker
Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
April 14, 1961


AIDA {646}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Birgit Nilsson
Radamès.................Kurt Baum
Amneris.................Biserka Cvejic [Debut]
Amonasro................Anselmo Colzani
Ramfis..................Norman Scott
King....................Ezio Flagello
Messenger...............Robert Nagy
Priestess...............Carlotta Ordassy
Dance...................Thomas Andrew
Dance...................Ingrid Blecker [Debut]
Dance...................Hubert Farrington
Dance...................Ilona Hirschl
Dance...................Lolita San Miguel
Dance...................Joan Wilder

Conductor...............Nino Verchi

Production..............Margaret Webster
Stage Director..........Hans Busch
Designer................Rolf Gérard
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov
Choreographer...........Mattlyn Gavers

[Zachary Solov received credit for choreography throughout the season,
sharing it with Mattlyn Gavers beginning April 14.]


Review: in New York Times

'FIRST 'MET' AIDA BY MISS NILSSON
Soprano Is in Top Form Biserka Cvejic, Yugoslav Mezzo, Makes Debut

Birgit Nilsson sang her first Metropolitan Aida last night in a performance of the Verdi opera that also featured the debut of a Yugsoslav mezzo-soprano, Biserka Cvejic. It was indubitably Miss Nilsson's night. Isolde turned into Aida and it was a perfectly credible transformation.
She had the whole expressive language of Italian opera at her command - the high, floated pianissimos, the dark ominous low tones, the arched phrases, the parlando effects, even some of the slightly extra-musical dramatic exclamation points. And, of course, the soprano had the stunning strength to soar over the ensembles.

The shape of Miss Nilsson's voice is not strictly Italian. But the sense of style was, and the dramatic and musical conception was always meaningful down to the smallest detail. When the messenger in the first act mentions her father's name, Aida's "mio padre" was a really involuntary gasp, not just a silly operatic thing to say. Her acting was fine; she was really graceful and dignified on stage and her sense of movement and gesture carried dramatic weight.

Miss Nilsson as well as everyone else was hampered by a performance that had all the bounce of a flat tire and about as much artistic appeal. The cast, which included Kurt Baum as Rhadames and Norman Scott as Ramfis - both for the first time this season - had a constant tendency to go off in several directions, mutually parting company with chorus, orchestra and conductor. That Miss Nilsson came through this confusion so well was her personal triumph.


Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

Although yesterday evening's performance of "Aida" was the last of the season at the Metropolitan Opera House, it brought two first appearances since Birgit Nilsson had not sung the title role here before this and Biserka Cvejic, the Yugoslav mezzo-soprano who sang Amneris, was making her debut on this side of the Atlantic. Miss Nilsson's was a memorable addition to her list of Metropolitan assignments and the newcomer's interpretation of Aida's rival, judging by what the reviewer had time to hear, left a wish to learn more about a distinguished talent.

Like her Isolde and her Turandot, Miss Nilsson's Aida showed her to be a singing actress of the first order, while it also gave a striking illustration of her vocal versatility, as well as of her already exceptional ability to express a wide range of emotions in song. Her voice had the incisive power which these other roles require, and displayed this with unusual and appropriate effectiveness when her singing soared over the mass of vocal and instrumental tone in the triumphal scene. But she employed such power only when it was needed; her singing was lyrically plaintive when she asked Amneris for pity in the second act. Other moods also illustrated her extensive range of vocal hues and her discerning use of them, while pianissimo passages were sung with exquisite delicacy. To the eye, her impersonation combined vividness and spontaneity with fine points of dramatic detail.

Mme. Cvejic, who had sung in several European capitals, was duly regal as well as attractive in appearance, and her voice gave an impression both of generous volume and appropriate warmth, while both in song and demeanor she realized the expressive resources and range of her role. Her voice, in her scene with Aida in the second act, did not seem fully warmed up and was not fully focused. A new Amneris, however, cannot be justly appraised without hearing her in the judgment scene which comes late in the opera. Fortunately, an authoritative colleague was on hand to report that her performance here was superb in voice and musicianship, so that this debut can be rated as unusually auspicious.

Kurt Baum, who had expected to spend the evening singing Mario in "Tosca" with the Brooklyn Opera Company was called back to the Metropolitan to replace Eugenio Fernandi as Radames, and gave this role a spirited, well-routined interpretation. Anselmo Colzani was vocally and dramatically persuasive as Amonasro; Ezio Flagello and Norman Scott fared well as the King and the High Priest, while the vitality and momentum of the general musical interpretation has its variations under Nino Verchi's conductorship.



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