[Met Performance] CID:189810
Le Nozze di Figaro {196} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/11/1962.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 11, 1962

Mozart-Da Ponte

Figaro..................Giorgio Tozzi
Susanna.................Anneliese Rothenberger
Count Almaviva..........Kim Borg
Countess Almaviva.......Lisa Della Casa
Cherubino...............Mildred Miller
Dr. Bartolo.............Ezio Flagello
Marcellina..............Mignon Dunn
Don Basilio.............Andrea Velis
Antonio.................Lawrence Davidson
Barbarina...............Mildred Allen
Don Curzio..............Gabor Carelli
Peasant.................Loretta Di Franco
Peasant.................Dorothy Shawn

Conductor...............Erich Leinsdorf

Production..............Cyril Ritchard
Stage Director..........Ralph Herbert
Designer................Oliver Messel
Choreographer...........John Butler

Le Nozze di Figaro received six performances this season.

Review of Paul Henry Lang in the Herald Tribune

Le Nozze di Figaro

Those who attended the American Opera Society's presentation of Gluck's "Iphigenie in Tauris" and, like this reporter, a couple of days later heard Mozart's "Figaro" at the Met, must have realized, perhaps with some shock, that the famous "reforms" that made Gluck the idol of textbook and program note writer were gloriously ignored by Mozart. Every law on the Gluckian tablets is contradicted in "Figaro" which last night returned to the repertory: the librettist, who is supposed to be the master, was made the servant, the banished secco recitative is back as a wonderful vehicle of fast dramatic action, the gods and goddesses are replaced by the very "frivolous" ordinary mortals who love, cheat, scheme, suffer, and enjoy life, for they are indeed no marble statues.

When "Iphigenia" is over one cares little what happens to the characters. They have been in good hands and everything relevant has been done for them; they engross but they do not impregnate the imagination. But Mozart, at the end of an opera, leaves his people on our conscience; his operas have an after-life. "Figaro" requires an alert audience to the refilled shades of its wit and, although there is plenty of humor on the surface, this is not the essence of Mozart's art but rather a veil for the more subtle shafts from his nimble mind. The opera is delicately light, the listener is enveloped in a delicious atmosphere, and the generous-hearted composer's laughter, his sardonic humor, and his tender sympathies are contagious. Yet the comedy also conveys a serious warning: do not play with fire, for love is a serious thing, whether it affects servant or master,

As to the quality of the production, there is little to add to and nothing to withdraw from the unfavorable judgment expressed in our notice of the original Cyril Ritchard production a couple of years ago. In that notice attention was drawn to the workings of a Broadway-oriented imagination which turned a supreme masterpiece that is a social satire into low comedy, and to the fundamental misconception of the true character of the figures of the opera. Mr. Ritchard makes the men immature rather than manly and the women exhibit childish petulance. But his operatic unconventionality is of a conventional kind; he "does not know much," said the Duchess, "and that's a fact." Unfortunately, with a strange stubbornness Mr. Bing grimly supports this travesty. Ralph Herbert, the stage director, only added a few more silly touches to the prevailing horsing.

Last year the situation was saved by the excellent singing and playing. I regret to say that this time I am unable to say anything pleasant about the musical aspects of the production. Oh yes, some individuals were very distinguished. Giorgio Tozzi, in the title role, has greatly developed in stature. The resourceful barber-diplomat is now in his artistic bloodstream. Lisa Della Casa - well, she was just herself, beautiful to look at and to hear, and Mildred Miller was a fine Cherubino. But one key figure was clearly miscast, and two others turned in good, but vocally somewhat unsatisfactory, performances which hurt the ensembles and in Mozart that's fatal.

Anneliese Rothenberger is a charming Susanna but her voice is so light in the middle register that you can barely hear her; Ezio Flagello is a fine singer with a particularly warm and rounded tone, but the part of Bartolo is too low for him. Kim Borg, the Count, also gave a creditable performance, but he, too, is deficient in low tones. The cumulative result of this was near-fatal in the ensembles which are the glory in this work. And more trouble came from the most unexpected quarter: the pit. Mr. Leinsdorf gave the impression of being tired - no wonder, after his exertions in the "Ring." The overture was perfunctory and, in general, the orchestra was dull, the players committed all manner of faux pas, and a pallor hung over everything. In the second act the spirit picked up a little, but since the treble and bass were only intermittently heard in the ensembles, the fire never flared up. I must add that the chorus sounded and acted insipid - another rarity at the Met.

Well, "Figaro" was a disappointment, but the potential is there. A clear-voiced Susanna, a more robust Bartolo, and above all, a few good rehearsals can change the situation in no time.

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