[Met Performance] CID:188150
La Traviata {451} McCormick Center, Chicago, Illinois: 05/14/1961.


Chicago, Illinois
McCormick Center
May 14, 1961

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Violetta................Anna Moffo
Alfredo.................Jan Peerce
Germont.................Robert Merrill
Flora...................Helen Vanni
Gastone.................Gabor Carelli
Baron Douphol...........Calvin Marsh
Marquis D'Obigny........George Cehanovsky
Dr. Grenvil.............Clifford Harvuot
Annina..................Teresa Stratas
Giuseppe................Kurt Kessler
Gardener................John Trehy

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

Review of Claudia Cassidy in The Chicago Tribune

On the Aisle

Veterans and a Beautiful Neophyte in Farewell 'La Traviata'

Nothing challenged " Turandot " as the high point of the Metropolitan's four opera week-end in McCormick Place. It was genuinely exciting, with beauty, splendor, and style, and although the farewell ""La Traviata" was at least second best, there was a gulf between them. "La Traviata" had the smooth and, in all truth, humdrum routine of competent repertory performance in which veterans headed by Jan Peerce and Robert Merrill gave the beautiful Anna Moffo her first chance at Violetta in the city which saw her American debut with the Lyric three years ago.

Miss Moffo is possibly too gifted for her own good. She is so beautiful in that willowy, white skinned, jet haired, dazzling way that no one really expects her to sing. But she can sing. She can sing most beautifully and in a wide range of roles. This so enchants impresarios that she is constantly being pitched headlong into a role she is not quite ready to sing. And in that "quite," small as it looks in print, lies the difference between realization and disappointment. If you look back on the great Violettas within your reach - mine include Muzio, Bori and the indelible Callas, and I shall always mourn that they do not include Farrar and Ponselle - you realize the sumptuous depth, the feverish brilliance of the role.

Miss Moffo has a great deal to offer it, even now. Her beauty has a classic quality, plus piquancy, and it carries. Her voice is warm and lustrous with a promise of depth. She took the first act arias carefully and won without being dazzling. Her second act had the hint of poignancy that time and experience will develop. But the gambling scene - the least resting of the lot in Tyrone Guthrie's scrambled direction - left her at a loss, and she threw the last act right, out the window. The trouble began when you could not hear her reading of the letter; one of Violetta's great moments, and nothing was rescued by an "Addio del passato" that was pure ingénue. True, she brought down the house, but I doubt it she was fooled. She knows the way she wants to go, and that way is up, right to the top.

Mr. Peerce does not change - he knows how to sing and he sings. Mr. Merrill is an unimaginative Germont, but he can stand there and pour out "Di Provenza" to delight the multitudes. There were numerous good performances among Violetta's admirers, from Calvin Marsh's jealous baron to Clifford Harvuot's aquiline doctor, and there was a particularly fresh and charming Annina in Teresa Stratas, who will have a maid of her own some day.

Oliver Smith's settings are airy and fresh, even if Rolf Gerard's costumes often clash like fury with their whole intent. And not a little of the evening's humdrum air came from the oompah conducting of Kurt Adler, which was doubly a pity because Verdi's is a powerful, heart-breaking score, and the shirt-sleeved orchestra was so willing to play.

As for the luck of the new theater, it had both kinds. Bad because the air conditioning system was not ready and the weather turned scalding hot. Good because when a fuse blew and the lights went out, it waited until the cast of this closing opera was taking final bows.

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