[Met Performance] CID:196500
La Sonnambula {39} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/5/1963.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 5, 1963


LA SONNAMBULA {39}
Bellini-F. Romani

Amina...................Joan Sutherland
Elvino..................John Alexander
Rodolfo.................Giorgio Tozzi
Lisa....................Jeanette Scovotti
Teresa..................Janis Martin
Alessio.................John Macurdy
Notary..................Arthur Graham

Conductor...............Silvio Varviso

Director................Henry Butler
Designer................Rolf Gérard
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov

La Sonnambula received ten performances this season.

Review of Irving Kolodin in the December 21, 1963 issue of the Saturday Review



. . . . . . . . .

With Miss Sutherland, the circumstances are somewhat otherwise, if only because the response-in-kind is far less accessible to the singers associated with her (always excluding the responsibly artistic Giorgio Tozzi as Count Rodolfo). However, Amina is "La Sonnambula"'s justification for being given at the Metropolitan (or elsewhere), and when Miss Sutherland frames Bellini's arching melodies and limpid phrases with the even flow of sound at her command, the justification is self-evident. This time, indeed, it was appreciably more self-evident than previously, for Miss Sutherland seems to have settled into a relationship with her surroundings where she was giving a performance rather than proving a point. She was warmly welcomed, as she has been before; but it was now less an encouragement for things to come than an acknowledgement of heights already scaled.

Aside from Tozzi (who has sung "Va ravviso" with smoother legato on other occasions), the heaviest burden was borne by John Alexander as Elvino, in place of Nicolai Gedda. Alexander's sound is sturdy rather than elegant, his manner aspiring rather than assured. What he achieved by main force was a tribute to resolution and strong nerve, but it was rarely Bellini as Bellini should be sung, whether by soprano or mezzo, baritone or bass. Where ease is lacking, so is conviction in such music. Alexander could be commended for effort, but the strain of his range in the area of a top C was all too plain; as for the turns and embellishments, they came much harder to him than to Gedda (assuming that he was trying to sing the same notes). I rather preferred Lili Chookasian of last year's cast to this year's Teresa (Janis Martin), and Jeanette Scovotti showed no greater ability to make something meaningful of Lisa than she had before. As for Silvio Varviso, there was less he could do to underplay "Sonnambula" than "Magic Flute," which left the musical direction about on the level of Rolf Gerard's decor, Henry Butler's direction, and Zachary Solov's choreography - synthetic rather than authentic.



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