[Met Performance] CID:188120
Aida {649} McCormick Center, Chicago, Illinois: 05/12/1961.

(Review)


Chicago, Illinois
McCormick Center
May 12, 1961


AIDA {649}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Leonie Rysanek
Radamès.................Eugenio Fernandi
Amneris.................Irene Dalis
Amonasro................Cornell MacNeil
Ramfis..................Jerome Hines
King....................Ezio Flagello
Messenger...............Robert Nagy
Priestess...............Carlotta Ordassy
Dance...................Thomas Andrew
Dance...................Ingrid Blecker
Dance...................Hubert Farrington
Dance...................Ilona Hirschl
Dance...................Edith Jerell
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 of Claudia Cassidy in The Chicago Tribune

On the Aisle

Metropolitan's 'Aida' Lacks Splendor and Style to Test New Theater

They really should have opened that theater with a bang. If it was to be "Aida" then an "Aida" with the most glorious voices in the world today, and with a reckless splash à la Verona's arena, where the settings sweep the huge stage, there are about 300 in the chorus, and at least 140 in the orchestra pit. For the stunning new theater so beautifully set in the wide lakefront sweep of McCormick Place cuts a wide swath and will not be content with the tepid and the skimpy,. To find out what it is really like we will need something big in a blaze of brilliance. Perhaps "Turandot" will turn the trick tonight.

For New York's Metropolitan, like all other major opera houses, has its magnificent performances. Unfortunately, what with one thing and another at the tag end of a back breaking season, it is seldom able to bring them on tour. Last night's "Aida," with its so-so cast, its dead as a doornail production, and its soiled and hideous folding settings for the tour - it was really too much to accept with equanimity. Much more fun to stand up and look around at the 5,000 seat theater in its clean sweep of grayed vermillion and gold and greenish gray. And to note that two strips of aisle carpeting got laid in time to give you the general idea of what is to come.

But sooner or later the lights dimmed, the stage was in focus, and those tiered rows of comfortable seats gave you an unobstructed view. Of narrow, shallow settings masked in to fit. Of lifeless, lusterless performers going through robot motions. Of a good orchestra riding up in its hydraulic pit, ready to play far better than asked by Nino Verchi, a colorless conductor, routined enough, but with no conception of Verdi's magnificence.

Leonie Rysanek sang about the same Aida she gave the Lyric - a nice, upset girl in love, rather than the flaming savage. She uses her beautiful voice so badly that you never know when a phrase is to be lost in a breathy fog and when it is going to soar. When it comes free it is altogether lovely, though never a true Aida voice in the sense of the darkly sumptuous dramatic soprano.

Jerome Hines' high priest had the weight and quality of tone the role demands, but no apparent interest in the proceedings. Irene Dalis, who will be Bayreuth's Kundry, was opulent and dull, because she has no feeling for the imperious brilliance of the part. Eugenio Fernandi, a husky young tenor, has a voice worth developing, but lacks presence and style. Cornell MacNeil's Amonasro was robust, but either tired or developing a wobble. Ezio Flagello was a constitutional monarch, without divine rights. Robert Nagy either was the loudest messenger in history, or he struck and uncommonly live spot from which to deliver his story.

The chorus just stood there. The ballet was unusual, to put it tactfully, when the triumph scene turned out to be less Egyptian than little Egypt. The scampering youngsters in the slave scene were more fun.

It was difficult to tell too much about acoustics, because it was a dead performance. When now and then it came to life, so did the sound. Meanwhile, it would be wise to arrange a system of not seating latecomers during crucial moments, and to divine some way of informing the audience that the music is about to begin. Many a scene starts quietly - and those far in the rear do not hear it in the scuffle of those returning to their seats.



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