[Met Performance] CID:188200
Aida {650} Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 05/19/1961.

(Review)


Minneapolis, Minnesota
University of Minnesota, Northrop Memorial Auditorium
May 19, 1961


AIDA {650}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Birgit Nilsson
Radamès.................Eugenio Fernandi
Amneris.................Mignon Dunn
Amonasro................Anselmo Colzani
Ramfis..................Norman Scott
King....................Ezio Flagello
Messenger...............Robert Nagy
Priestess...............Carlotta Ordassy
Dance...................Suzanne Ames
Dance...................Thomas Andrew
Dance...................Ingrid Blecker
Dance...................Hubert Farrington
Dance...................Ilona Hirschl
Dance...................Audrey Keane
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 of John K. Shermann in the Minneapolis Star

Nilsson and Dunn Shine as 'Aida' Replacements

Two indisposed singers - Leonie Rysanek and Irene Dalis - made last night's performance of Verdi's "Aida" a surprise package for clients of the Metropolitan Opera season. Regrets over not hearing these two were balanced by the thrill of hearing their two replacements in some of the finest female singing heard in Northrop auditorium.

Surely an extra dividend for operagoers was the opportunity of again hearing Birgit Nilsson, who sang the title role and, more than that, of hearing her in a warm and human role after her portrayal of the cold and merciless Princess Turandot of two evenings before. As for Mignon Dunn, who took over the Amneris part for the first time on the Met's stage, her performance was a triumph, no less. Her vocalism and acting were both on a consistently high level, and perfectly merged. So we were twice lucky in a substitution situation which too often is a letdown.

In fact, the evening was virtually theirs. Nilsson revealed what "Turandot" does not allow her to show - great versatility as a singing actress with nuances and depth of characterization and singing that strikes a full range of emotional chords. As before, her voice and technique seem to know no obstacles, the tone rings out straight and clear at all levels, with the high and loud notes approached by the most artful phrasing to make them not a screech, but a natural, unforced climax. We heard more of her beautiful lower range: the pathos of the role was well delineated without undue emotionalism. She and Miss Dunn made their tempestuous duet the first high point of the opera, and the latter crowned her performance by the fire, anguish and despair of her Act IV aria, eloquently conveyed by singing of dramatic conviction and tonal opulence, joined with a histrionic skill to match.

The Radames of Eugenio Fernandi was less convincing, suffering some from flatting on high notes and, for the first two acts, was lackluster. The role came to life in Act III in the duet with Aida and reached deeper identification here and in the tomb scene. The intensity and fervor of Anselmo Colzani as Amonasro galvanized the scenes in which he took part, and Norman Scott as Ramfis and Ezio Flagello as the King made the most of these dignified personages.

"Aida" is handsome and solemn pageantry, among other things, and this eye-filling element of the Rolf Gerard settings and costumes, and the movement and singing of the choruses produced the kind of impact you want and expect in the Verdi opera, and which we had last night in ample measure. The Margaret Webster production, together with spectacle that is grand rather than flashy and over-colored, made the opera more of story-to-music than the circus it has often been in the past. Certainly not the least of the performance's quality was Nino Verchi's urgent and sensitive guidance as conductor.



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