[Met Performance] CID:190230
Aida {661} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/20/1962.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 20, 1962


AIDA {661}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Margherita Roberti
Radamès.................Kurt Baum
Amneris.................Nell Rankin
Amonasro................Robert Merrill
Ramfis..................William Wilderman
King....................Luben Vichey
Messenger...............Robert Nagy
Priestess...............Carlotta Ordassy
Dance...................Suzanne Ames
Dance...................Judith Chazin
Dance...................Hubert Farrington
Dance...................Audrey Keane
Dance...................Donald Mahler

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

Review of Martin Bernheimer in the New York Herald Tribune

5 Singers Make Their Bows in 8th 'Aida" of Met Season

The Metropolitan has been giving quite a lot of "Aida"s this year, changing at least one principal with practically each repetition. Last night's performance, the eighth of the season, had a new Aida in Margherita Roberti, the young American soprano who joined the company as Tosca a few weeks ago. Since four other singers were making their seasonal bows in other leading roles (presumably without the benefit of a stage rehearsal). it came as no surprise that total smoothness was sometimes lacking.

In general, Miss Roberti turned in a competent Aida, but one cannot help asking whether mere competence is enough for one of the world's great opera houses. First-rate Aidas are rare, to be sure, and Miss Roberti was certainly entitled to first-night nerves. But none of this alters the fact that her voice, a bright lyric soprano, is not really suited to the role's heavyweight requirements. Miss Roberti frequently had to strain for a big sound. As a result, her tone became edgy, or wobbly, or both. One admired her musical security, and felt sorry for her. The Met does no favor, either to itself, to its public, or to its roster, with such casting.

Dramatically, the soprano seemed a bit stiff and detached, and she was hardly aided by her costume in the first two acts - an orange and purple concoction that made her look more like a passé Carmen than an Ethiopian slave-princess. In fact, the costumes in general deserve a bit more attention from the management. The program still lists Rolf Gerard as designer, but both the Aida and the Amneris were permitted to bring their own costumes. Neither really fitted into the production.

Nell Rankin had to combat some pitch uncertainties, and she lacks the fire and vocal weight of an ideal Amneris. Nevertheless, she sang and acted with enough intensity to make one forget momentary blemishes. William Wildermann was a strong Ramfis, Robert. Merrill, a powerful, but not-too-sensitive, Amonasro, and Luben Vichey, a better than average King. Replacing the indisposed Franco Corelli, Kurt Baum repeated his long familiar Radames. He was impressively heroic one minute, embarrassingly clumsy the next.

One was grateful for the presence of George Schick in the pit. He provided the needed unifying force for this collection of dissimilar musical elements.



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