[Met Performance] CID:188190
Rigoletto {409} Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 05/18/1961.

(Review)


Minneapolis, Minnesota
University of Minnesota, Northrop Memorial Auditorium
May 18, 1961


RIGOLETTO {409}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Cornell MacNeil
Gilda...................Laurel Hurley
Duke of Mantua..........Barry Morell
Maddalena...............Rosalind Elias
Sparafucile.............William Wilderman
Monterone...............Bonaldo Giaiotti
Borsa...................Gabor Carelli
Marullo.................Clifford Harvuot
Count Ceprano...........George Cehanovsky
Countess Ceprano........Teresa Stratas
Giovanna................Carlotta Ordassy
Page....................Joan Wall
Guard...................Paul De Paola

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

Review of Edwin L. Bolton in the Minneapolis Star

'Rigoletto' Hits Height of Quality Performance

A "Rigoletto" superbly shaped to dramatic lines and distinguished by a sense of appropriateness was the second offering Thursday night in the Metropolitan Opera's stay at Northrop auditorium. It was a "Rigoletto" which, despite two late-hour cast substitutions, proved to be so secure vocally that the capacity audience soon was caught up in the uncommon amount of good acting that went on. There has been greater individual brilliance in some instances in prior showings of the dark-passioned Verdi masterpiece, but this hit a height of quality performance top to bottom that will not soon be forgotten.

Some listeners may have missed the customary quota of vocal histrionics - indeed, the exhibitionist opportunities were muted - but it is the opinion here that far more of the listeners were stirred by honest displays which fell within context and served as integral parts of mood and story. Here, the Laurel was Hurley's - that is, Laurel Hurley's. The attractive soprano sang Gilda beautifully and movingly, taking us a far way from the hackneyed display of technique which so often results from such arias as "Caro nome." She was a fully believable Gilda, no small achievement.

"Rigoletto," of course, remains the special property of the baritone title role, that of the misshapen court jester in old Italy who runs afoul of a curse that eventually takes the life of his daughter, Gilda. Minneapolis' Cornell MacNeil provided an outstanding characterization that bore watching every moment and proved that, in capable hands, tragedy has its own rewards. MacNeil's twisted, lumpy body and lopsided gait seemed to be a normal part of him, and they were a frame for a stirring portrayal of a tortured soul crying out against evil tricks of man and fate.

His role, too, was a demanding one vocally, and he triumphed. Full, excellently managed and well projected, his voice compelled attention and communicated every twist of expression. If there was a weak spot in his performance, it was in the final scene, where, he seemed slightly remote from Gilda's dying moments, his concern shifting too soon from her to his own grief.

One of the cast changes brought in tenor Barry Morell to sing the Duke in the place of Jan Peerce, who was ill. He sang abundantly, gave the part the desirable callousness and looked perfectly capable of carrying out a wanton philosophy. His voice did not sound overly large but it had enough ring to go along with pleasing quality.

Rosalind Elias was called on the substitute for Mignon Dunn as Maddalena, seductive sister of the assassin, Sparafucile, in turn played by William Wildermann. She and Wildermann participated in stage freedom so noticeable, and made their full contributions to the famous quartet. And there was apt pacing from conductor Nino Verchi, plus sets that had spaciousness and an authentic look.

All in all, first rate singing, solid interpretation, a cast which was visually appealing and good judgment musically gave new life to an old standby. "Rigoletto" still has punch in such hands.



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