[Met Performance] CID:190370
Orfeo ed Euridice {63} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/3/1962.

(Debuts: Arthur Mitchell, John Taras
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 3, 1962


ORFEO ED EURIDICE {63}
C. W. Gluck-Calzabigi

Orfeo...................Kerstin Meyer
Euridice................Lucine Amara
Amore...................Anneliese Rothenberger
Dance...................Violette Verdy
Dance...................Katharyn Horne
Dance...................Carole Kroon
Dance...................Arthur Mitchell [Debut]
Dance...................Howard Sayette
Dance...................Richard Zelens

Conductor...............Jean Morel

Director................Michael Manuel
Set designer............Harry Horner
Costume designer........Frank Bevan
Choreographer...........John Taras [Debut]

Orfeo ed Euridice received five performances this season.

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday Review

Gluck's "Orfeo" is a work of such eloquence and distinction that its inclusion in the Metropolitan Opera's repertory must, of itself, be set aside from the ritual of the ordinary on the occasions when it is heard. This, then, is a season of "Orfeo," and its first performance cast a spell that soothed the spirit and glorified the senses as only Gluck can.

It is well known that Orfeo can be sung by a male alto, by a tenor, and by the mezzo voice which has become traditional since Hector Berlioz made the version now commonly in use (for Pauline Viardot in the 1850s). Of the two possible present-day alternatives - male altos being an all but extinct breed - Metropolitan preference has always tended to the mezzo voice, though it might be a profitable digression to venture a tenor Orfeo, or even such a baritone as Fischer-Dieskau or Gerard Souzay.

Presently the Orfeo is Kerstin Meyer, whose debut in "Carmen" a season ago rather confused the nature of her true abilities. She looks well, carries herself with a suitably male stride, and acts the distress of the bereaved Orfeo with simple dignity. Where the music lies well for her voice - the upper compass rather than the lower - she performs with fine musicality and a pleasant avoidance of the ostentatious.

However, these are qualities on the periphery of the strong central substance of the part (such as Giulietta Simionato delivered in her concert version with the American Opera Society in Town Hall in the fall of 1960. Beside a quaver in the all-important lower range of her voice, Miss Meyer rarely approaches what might be called rapture - that indefinable emanation of emotion which can be transmitted even by a voice lacking richness or vibrance. I was surprised that her "Furie, larve, ombre sdegnate" actually moved the Furies and Monsters of the underworld to relent; it scarcely had so impressive a ring to me. Again, "Pių puro č ciel" expressed Miss Meyer's appreciation of the beauty in Gluck's concept of the Elysian Fields more through phrasing and accent than by a sound of real distinction. As for the "Che faro," the roster of good performances of it is longer than the list of good Orfeos; it was perhaps the best of Miss Meyer's effort. Lucine Amara was Euridice, in a familiar style, and Anneliese Rothenberger, an unfamiliar Amore, was also a rather small-scaled one. Jean Morel's conducting gave shape and color to the score, though not nearly the dramatic thrust it can have.

On the whole, the visual aspects of this "Orfeo" were more absorbing than the aural, for Harry Homer's settings (of 1938) still provide an atmospheric frame for the action and Violette Verdy (a replacement for the absent Alicia Markova) is an excellent dancer, as is Arthur Mitchell, who shared the place of prominence with her. John Taras designed the choreography, which was theatrically justifying if somewhat showy, in its lifts and leaps, for the repose of the Elysian Fields.



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