[Met Performance] CID:197670
Falstaff {71} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/25/1964.

(Debut: Geraint Evans
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 25, 1964


FALSTAFF {71}
Giuseppe Verdi--Arrigo Boito

Sir John Falstaff.......Geraint Evans [Debut]
Alice Ford..............Gabriella Tucci
Ford....................Mario Sereni
Dame Quickly............Regina Resnik
Nannetta................Judith Raskin
Fenton..................Luigi Alva
Meg Page................Rosalind Elias
Dr. Cajus...............Mariano Caruso
Bardolfo................Andrea Velis
Pistola.................Norman Scott

Conductor...............Leonard Bernstein


Review of Irving Kolodin in the April 11, 1964 issue of the Saturday Review

Evans's Falstaff

Whatever Sir John Falstaff's order of honor may be, he was a true Knight of
the Garter when Geraint Evans made his first New York appearance in the Inn earlier in the week. The snowy white hair fringing the ruddy bald pate, the carefully bristling mustachios framing the florid face, are details of an image that embody a host of English characteristics from the imaginary Colonel Blimp to the very real Sir Thomas Beecham. For all his empty purse, Evans's Falstaff was as well dressed as he was well fed, which is well within the tradition that there will always be an England.

Evans's dramatic portrait, with its leers and sighs, its nuances and graces, would be a masterpiece were he merely delivering Shakespeare's lines in "The Merry Wives." The paunch that hangs before him is solidly weighty, and his gait proclaims the fact. Nevertheless, when he had to make a dash for cover at the warning of Ford's approach, he managed a gallop that was as laughable as it was believable. All this was bonus to a vocal impersonation that was brilliantly varied, and never at a loss for the suitable sound.

The art of this masterful effort is in the illusion of reserve it conveys, for the simple reason that Evans uses his full voice, which is just about big enough for the auditorium, sparingly. Much of the time he is working with half voice, enunciating, articulating, literally etching a fine line, which is more characterizing than floods of tone that wash away contour with their abundance. Probably his Italian would be marked down by natives as being too explicit; but to the alien ear it brings a gratifying amount of the text to clear perception.

As well as commanding the falsetto and rasp for the varied requirements of the score, Evans contrived to make himself into a kind of countertenor for one amorous exchange with Mistress Ford, and, in the next moment, produces the full, bullish baritone with which she is supposed to associate irresistible virility. Needless to say, the famous solo interludes were all thoroughly under control, but it was in his playing to and with the surrounding persons in the ensembles that the distinctions of Evans's Falstaff reposed. He had a great success with the audience (though he missed the curtain calls at the end of Act II due to momentary exhaustion after the exertions in the hamper) and, one might also say, with his colleagues, who clearly responded to his stimulating presence.






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