[Met Performance] CID:189740
Rigoletto {412} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/4/1962.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 4, 1962


RIGOLETTO {412}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Robert Merrill
Gilda...................Gianna D'Angelo
Duke of Mantua..........Barry Morell
Maddalena...............Rosalind Elias
Sparafucile.............Ezio Flagello
Monterone...............Bonaldo Giaiotti
Borsa...................Gabor Carelli
Marullo.................Clifford Harvuot
Count Ceprano...........Calvin Marsh
Countess Ceprano........Joan Wall
Giovanna................Thelma Votipka
Page....................Lynn Blair
Guard...................Paul De Paola

Conductor...............Fausto Cleva

Director................Herbert Graf
Staged by...............James Lucas
Designer................Eugene Berman
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov

Rigoletto received three performances this season.

Review of Ronald Eyer in the New York Herald Tribune

'Rigoletto'

Verdi's forlorn jester, Rigoletto, made a late seasonal entrance last night with Robert Merrill in the title role, which has become virtually his property and his alone. When one thinks of "Rigoletto" these days, one automatically thinks of Robert Merrill and vice-versa. It was a curious performance. There were many golden moments, but there were also some very pedestrian ones, and there was little evidence of that magic current of shared excitement that surges back and forth across the footlights when a good performance undergoes transformation into a great one.

Mr. Merrill, as usual, sparked the evening. His conception of the buffoon is surcharged with drama, but it is not overplayed for pathos, and sobs in the voice are kept to a respectable minimum. The soliloquy in the first and the pleas to the nobles in the third were delivered with the utmost artfulness, the second combining with real mastery the cunning, the scorn, the bitterness and the fury that are compounded in this misshapen creature.

Outstanding too, was Gianna D'Angelo's Gilda. Miss D'Angelo made her Metropolitan debut in this role last season and she is, in more than one respect, perfect for it. She is beautiful, she is obviously young, she has a talent for simple, unaffected acting, and her natural warmth communicates itself easily to the audience. In addition, she has exactly the right voice for the music. Gilda, to be sure, is a coloratura, and she usually is a lyric coloratura. But you realize how much better she comes off when she is like Miss D'Angelo, for what the Italians call "spinto," which means a voice which lies between lyric and dramatic in power and expressiveness. Gilda is, after all, a robust part, theatrically, and calls for much more than a high voice that tranquilly emits roulades and trills and gets through "Caro nome" prettily.

Miss D'Angelo's version is thoroughly acted, the voice gains strength as it climbs the scale, and all of the athletic exercises that can be as nerve-wracking for the listener as for the singer, if the latter is not a mistress of her craft, were accomplished with ease and with impeccable musicianship in matters of phrasing and intonation. The third act duet between Miss D'Angelo and Mr. Merrill unfortunately was marred in its final measures by a major lapse from the pitch, but it was just one of those things that can happen to the best.

As the Duke, Barry Morell was debonair and dramatically convincing. For one thing, he just didn't stand and sing with his feet in the footlights all night which, in itself, is something of an achievement for tenor in this role. At first, his voice sounded a bit light for Verdi's heavy demands, but with the second act it seemed to fill out and deepen and assume the required commanding quality.

Other good performances were given by Ezio Flagello, as Sparafucile, and Rosalind Elias was Maddalena. The score was kept clear and precise under Fausto Cleva's baton. But the unseen maestro, whoever he is, who takes all the choice elements listed here and fuses them into incandescence, evidently was busy elsewhere.



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