[Met Performance] CID:196830
La Traviata {491} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/6/1964.

(Debut: Mary Costa
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 6, 1964


LA TRAVIATA {491}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Violetta................Mary Costa [Debut]
Alfredo.................Flaviano Labò
Germont.................Mario Sereni
Flora...................Marcia Baldwin
Gastone.................Gabor Carelli
Baron Douphol...........William Walker
Marquis D'Obigny........George Cehanovsky
Dr. Grenvil.............Justino Díaz
Annina..................Lynn Blair
Giuseppe................Lou Marcella
Gardener................Paul De Paola

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

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday Review

As an arena for human endeavor, the opera stage is commonly one in which advantages of one sort - vocal or physical - are engaged in mortal combat with limitations - physical or vocal - of another. The best voices are not always housed in the most attractive bodies, nor are the brainiest singers the ones who are: a) well-endowed vocally; b) good to look at. When the three are allowed, by divine dispensation, to cohabit for the mortal span of an opera career, something exceptional is obviously in being.

Mary Costa's debut at the Metropolitan as Violetta left no doubt that she is a) physically attractive and b) well-endowed vocally. Whether she is, as well, gifted with the brain power to utilize these assets to maximum advantage, only the future can determine. Considering that she was, only half a dozen years ago, limited in ability to the performance of an aria on the Jack Benny TV program, and that she has built herself to current consideration through appearances in San Francisco, Vancouver and London (Covent Garden), determination, at least, is among her assets.

There were some vocally uncertain moments at the beginning, but she had the margin of security to perform her solo scene in Act I ("E strano" etc.) with accuracy as well as flair, in a technically competent and temperamentally promising way (no final E-flat). She even shaded a swell and decrescendo here and there. In the acts that followed, Miss Costa gradually insinuated in her audience a dramatic conception that was simple, unaffected and unequivocally feminine. All her efforts were directed toward convincing the audience of Violetta's devotion to Alfredo, despite his doubts and the opposition of Germont senior. Thus there was an undercurrent of drama to support the musical structure conceived by Verdi. On this occasion, there was more to admire in the solidity of her technical execution than there was in the quality of sound she produced - quite big enough for this big theatre but a little muffled and lacking in brilliance - but that could well be different next time. In any case, there was good reason to believe that Miss Costa commands the vocal wherewithal to make her blonde beauty magnetic in such roles as the Manons, Desdemona, Gounod's Juliet, and Smetana's Marie, as well as a wider range of seductresses and temptresses.

In its other aspects, this was a Traviata much akin to others heard at the Metropolitan this year. Flaviano Labò went his way as Alfredo, as Mario Sereni did his as Father Germont, rather more despite of than because of George Schick's conducting. He achieved a minimal objective of preserving order without much progress toward the maximum objective of providing momentum.



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