[Met Performance] CID:188080
La Traviata {450} Municipal Auditorium, Birmingham, Alabama: 05/8/1961.

(Review)


Birmingham, Alabama
Municipal Auditorium
May 8, 1961


LA TRAVIATA {450}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Violetta................Anna Moffo
Alfredo.................Barry Morell
Germont.................Frank Guarrera
Flora...................Helen Vanni
Gastone.................Gabor Carelli
Baron Douphol...........Calvin Marsh
Marquis D'Obigny........George Cehanovsky
Dr. Grenvil.............Clifford Harvuot
Annina..................Mildred Allen
Giuseppe................Kurt Kessler
Gardener................John Trehy

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

Review of Hugh Thomas in the Birmingham Post-Herald

Met's 'La Traviata' Strong and Moving

The Alabama Opera Assn. had an illustrious beginning last evening when it sponsored the Metropolitan Opera in a moving presentation of Verdi's "La Traviata." The Municipal Auditorium was packed and the huge audience was understandably enthusiastic. Kurt Alder conducted and the principal roles were sung by Anna Moffo (Violetta), Barry Morell (Alfredo) and Frank Guarrera (Giorgio Germont).

One can certainly understand why Anna Moffo has, in so short a time, established herself in the forefront of opera stars. She developed the character of Violetta with more gradations and subtleties than this listener has ever heard before. Her approach was perhaps more fragile than one usually encounters in this role, but her varied pastels were in excellent taste and always consistent with her characterization. Also, she can act, and was visually convincing from the beginning to end.

The highlight of the opera was, to me, the second act when Miss Moffo and Frank Guarrera gave a deeply moving performance of their tragic scene. Certainly Mr. Guarrera was equal to her musical sensitivity, for he sang with a beautiful feeling for the music Verdi wrote. His sense of phrase was moving and he and Anna Moffo took the hackneyed, stylized atmosphere out of this scene completely. It was a joy to hear two such musical people perform in such a persuasive way. Barry Morell was especially effective in the third and fourth acts after he had seemingly overcome his earlier noticeable tendency to sharpen the pitch.

The first and third acts were staged in brilliant vivid color with much stage motion from principals, subordinates, chorus and ballet. All of this made for exciting staging but it also exacted its musical penalty where the ensemble was concerned. The chorus had considerable difficulty staying with Mr. Adler's clear beat. I suppose this was primarily due to the fact that some of them simply couldn't see him on such a "busy stage."

Other than these noticeable lags in ensemble the performance was handled in top-notch fashion by Kurt Adler. He was positive and, at the same time, sufficiently pliable to follow the musical refinements that came especially from Miss Moffo and Mr. Guarrera. The secondary rotes were well sung with special contributions being made by Calvin Marsh, George Cehanovsky, Clifford Harvout and Helen Vanni. The orchestral ensemble left little to be desired, generally speaking.

All in all it was a fine production with excellent pacing and reestablished the fact that when this opera is sung as it was sung last night it is sure-fire musical and dramatic writing by Giuseppe Verdi, one of the real masters of musical drama.



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