[Met Performance] CID:189500
La Forza del Destino {100} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/12/1961.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 12, 1961

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Leonora.................Eileen Farrell
Don Alvaro..............Richard Tucker
Don Carlo...............Robert Merrill
Padre Guardiano.........Jerome Hines
Preziosilla.............Helen Vanni
Fra Melitone............Fernando Corena
Marquis de Calatrava....Louis Sgarro
Curra...................Carlotta Ordassy
Trabuco.................Alessio De Paolis
Surgeon.................George Cehanovsky

Conductor...............George Schick

Director................Herbert Graf
Stage Director..........Michael Manuel
Designer................Eugene Berman
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov

La Forza del Destino received sixteen performances this season.

Review of Ronald Eyer in the Herald Tribune

Semi - sensational was the word for it.

Why shouldn't it be? It had two of the greatest singers in the world-Eileen Farrell and Richard Tucker and a virtually all-star supporting cast: Robert Merrill, singing his first Don Carlo at the Met; Jerome Hines as Padre Guardiano, and Fernando Corena as Fra Melitone.

I say semi - sensational only because it was the old, familiar production by Herbert Graf with sets and costumes by Eugene Berman, and obviously had undergone little restudy. But the Graf production was, in its literal, conventional way, a very good one. Graf was no innovator, but he knew what grand opera was supposed to look like (don't be misled by my speaking of Mr. Graf in the past tense; he is still very much alive and busy as director of the Zurich opera in Switzerland) and somehow he managed to suggest the sweep and power inherent in the original tragedy of the Duke of Rivas.

Even the burlesque battle episode in the second act with its rheumatic infantry tottering off to the field of valor and artillery sounding off like popguns didn't come off too badly (actual battles of the period may have been much more like this than we, who are accustomed to nothing less than block-busters, may realize today).

Eileen Farrell, as Leonora, brought down the house. She may not be much of an actress, and her figure in those funny boy's pants in the Church scene did nothing to add to the illusion-but how she can sing! Her "Me pellegrina" in the first act, and her second act prayer were more in sheer vocal grandeur, I am sure, than even Verdi ever bargained for. And her "Pace, pace, mio Dio," in the last act was like a brand new revelation of an old song.

The voice, one must admit has become a bit wiry when pushed to full power. But it still seems to have no limitations of expression and still glows with the glory of the rising sun when the challenge of sheer beauty demands.

It was a toss-up between Robert Merrill s and Richard Tucker as to who took the honors in the second-act duet, "Solenne in quest' ora." Though one is a baritone and the other a tenor, these artists have much in common. Neither is particularly subtle dramatically but they know, nevertheless, how to make a theatrical point-the right sob in the voice at the right point will do it, provided it is not too artificial-and both are among the best singers extant in their categories.

Last night each was near the top of his form, vocally, and the combination was overwhelming. Mr. Tucker earlier in the opera already was pouring out golden tone, whether at full voice or in a whisper. What dramatic tenor today is more opulently endowed? True, the Italianate catch in the voice was there; but what better way to put emotion into music of this vintage?

Helen Vanni was pert and pretty and vocally bright in her first Met appearance as Preziosilla, and George Schick, conducting "Forza" for the first time here, kept a tight rein on the proceedings and provided a highly respectable orchestral background for his galaxy of singers. Jerome Hines and Fernando Corena were
exemplary, as ever, in their ecclesiastical roles.

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