[Met Performance] CID:190320
Aida {662} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/28/1962.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 28, 1962


AIDA {662}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Ghislanzoni

Aida....................Gabriella Tucci
Radamès.................Franco Corelli
Amneris.................Irene Dalis
Amonasro................Cornell MacNeil
Ramfis..................Giorgio Tozzi
King....................Louis Sgarro
Messenger...............Robert Nagy
Priestess...............Carlotta Ordassy
Dance...................Suzanne Ames
Dance...................Audrey Keane
Dance...................Lolita San Miguel
Dance...................Thomas Andrew
Dance...................Hubert Farrington

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

Review in the Herald Tribune, unsigned

Last night I visited the Met to see what a meat and potatoes performance is like in this season troubled by strikes, indispositions, contract aches, bad weather, bad singing, and bad conducting. The opera was "Aida," which is routine enough, but the roster of singers looked promising and I love the old Egyptian melodrama. To be sure, this is a singers' opera, and the singers must have big voices, for their parts were designed to fit the colossal Egyptian architecture. So I settled down for a nice evening and soon was enjoying myself as George Schick started the prelude.

Mr. Schick is an old opera hand though, of course, he is anything but old. The baton came down well ahead of the entries, everyone was nicely invited to participate, and if the invitation was not enough the maestro knew how to turn the request into an order. The cymbals, so arrogant the other day, were very well behaved, and in general the conductor proved that he is a first class musician whom every one should be pleased to see in the pit.

Then the tall high priest started his evil machinations. Giorgio Tozzi can do no wrong -superb voice, superb presence, and an intelligent head. Well, if this is the routine, Mr. Bing deserves the Knight's Cross of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Presently a good looking tall man came into view, a four-star general in the Egyptian Army by the name of Franco Corelli. He can bawl and shout like a real general, but sing he cannot. He hurled out the high notes with heroic bravado, but could not tie together two notes in a legato if his life would depend on it. The voice is uncultivated and untamed; it has power and Mr. Corelli can handle a nice parlando, but give him a hanging curve and the B flat is out on Seventh Avenue.

Those B flats have a strange fascination for Mr. Corelli. In the big ensemble at the end of the second act he got lost, just standing there in his lovely silver uniform that made him look like Lohengrin with his pants cut off, and mumbling something to himself. But every time a B flat floated by he caught it on the fly, his mouth opened wide, and out came a full blast. Well that wasn't too good even for routine.

The lovely slave girl, Aida, was Gabriella Tucci, new to the role in this house. Miss Tucci is not a great singer, but a very pleasant one. She has a nice voice, she can color it to a certain extent, and while it lacks certain radiance, it shone through the ensemble rather commendably. She rates a B plus, which is well above routine.

Irene Dalis, whom I always considered an able, very reliable, and versatile artist, had a bad day. Her Amneris was a far cry from her fine Brangäne. Especially in the boudoir scene, she permitted some whoops to escape from her throat that made me cringe. Why is it that this scene is almost always so badly sung? The girls want to be extremely seductive, but that sort of thing would drive away the most ardent standee, ready to bravo even Cyril Ritchard's noble baritone.

Then came the King of the Ethiopians, Cornell MacNeil, and the routine quickly disappeared. Here was a real voice, an Italian helden baritone, that can shine and project without visible effort. His stage presence too is commanding. This completes the list of the principals, a rather mixed lot.

The rest of the business was nothing to write home about. Louis Sgarro, the King, wabbled through his part amiably, the low tones so weak that there was nothing to wabble on; the Messenger, Robert Nagy, sang his bit part as if it were the Prize Song; he must have strained his abdominal muscles on the high tones. The unaccompanied chorus in the temple sank gently to a lower level which became painfully evident whenever the harp joined them, the trumpets on the battlements showed that they are good Americans used to freedom - in a word this was indeed routine with a vengeance.

I fully sympathize with Mr. Bing; he is dealing with a mess; it is pitiful when even the big names turn out to be vocal plaster of Paris and the reliable standbys leave him in the lurch. What can be done about it I don't know, but then that's the manager's secret; my duties end with the last period in this review and I can only pray with him for miracles.



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