[Met Performance] CID:205440
Rigoletto {443} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/16/1966.

(Debuts: Alfredo Kraus, Ruza Baldani
Reviews)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 16, 1966


RIGOLETTO {443}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Cornell MacNeil
Gilda...................Roberta Peters
Duke of Mantua..........Alfredo Kraus [Debut]
Maddalena...............Ruza Baldani [Debut]
Sparafucile.............John Macurdy
Monterone...............Raymond Michalski
Borsa...................Gabor Carelli
Marullo.................Robert Goodloe
Count Ceprano...........Gene Boucher
Countess Ceprano........Loretta Di Franco
Giovanna................Carlotta Ordassy
Page....................Dorothy Shawn
Guard...................Paul De Paola

Conductor...............Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Production..............Herbert Graf
Stage Director..........Bodo Igesz
Designer................Eugene Berman

Choreographer...........Zachary Solov

Rigoletto received six performances this season.
[At the time of her debut, Ruza Baldani billed herself as Ruza Pospinov.
During her career she also sang under the names of Pospis and Pospinov-Baldani.]

Review of Harriet Johnson in the New York Post

The ironic, tragic thrust of Victor Hugo tolled knowingly in "Rigoletto" last night at the Metropolitan Opera, interrupted, of course, by the spectrum of Verdi's pulsating melodies. Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, with a solid beat and an ominous imagination, inspired the dramatic underlining from the [first] brass to the cut of the chords underneath Rigoletto's cry of "curse." While the librettist Piave dissipated the impact of Hugo's "Le Roi s'amuse" when he adapted it for opera, Molinari-Pradelli overrode this, reaching to the essence of the conflicts and forebodings in his approach to the score. This was his first "Rigoletto" at the Met and accompanying him were two young singers making their Met debuts: Spanish tenor Alfredo Kraus as the Duke and Yugoslavian mezzo-soprano Rusa Pospinov as Maddalena.

By Act IV, Kraus, a tenor with good legs as well as an excellent lyric voice, was singing so easily he dissipated any thought of criticism. His voice is not large but has a handsome sheen and he conducted himself well on stage. And he has the inside trace on suave vocalism. Miss Pospinov, on stage for only a short scene, looked voluptuous and acted the foil she was born to be. Her voice is big but seemed unrefined. It would be unfair, however, to judge it with any degree of certainty from this small role. She sang confidently.

Cornell MacNeil, who is developing into a Leonard Warren, sang the title role of the jester magnificently. He was impressive on every count and his voice rolled out like a luxuriant river. There was resonance and resonance. Petite Roberta Peters was also not petite in artistry or voice. She has leaped this season with expanded vocalism into far more freedom and amplitude. Always intelligent, she shows both more abandon and control and this is not paradoxical. Growth in freedom means more control but only the initiated should know. Miss Peters does.

This was the initial "Rigoletto" of the season and it deserved the prolonged music of applause from all quarters of the house during each act as well as following each.


Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday Review

Tenor From Spain

Performers of the Duke in Rigoletto have, traditionally, been Italian (when they have not been American or, perhaps, Irish) tenors. However, there is also a line of Spanish succession, and it is that one to which Alfredo Kraus, the Metropolitan's latest, belongs. He is, against all the implications of the name, not only Spanish-born (in the Canary Islands), but also largely Spanish-trained.

In his ten years of operatic campaigning on the Continent and in this country (particularly Chicago), Kraus has acquired a reputation for good looks, a limber voice, and a flair for higher top notes than the average tenor cares to risk. All of these are in the tradition of such Spanish predecessors as Constantino and Lazaro, both of whom performed the part in this same house. The question always, is: How will the voice measure up to requirements of the theater? So far as "Rigoletto" is concerned, one need not wait long for the answer: "Questa O quella" occurs almost as soon as the curtain goes up, and Kraus's version left little doubt that he could be heard. His is not a "big" voice by any means, but it is free and forward in its production, strongly supported, and always gratifying to the ear.

The most hopeful sign for his vocal future was the general fluency of his performance, coupled with a youthful presence and a figure slim enough to suggest a Prince who is having an enjoyable time being dissolute rather than already paying the price for it. He did not always accomplish what he set out to do in phrasing and dynamics, but the tokens of intention (such as a real pianissimo in "Parmi, veder") were all honorable ones.

In addition to the stimulus of so capable a new performer in a prominent part, this "Rigoletto" (the first in several seasons) benefited immeasurably from the sure handed conducting of Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. In a way, this was even more testimony to his skill than the "Ballo" in which he had been introduced a week or so ago, for "everybody" does "Rigoletto," after a fashion. M-P's fashion was decidedly Verdian, with nothing slighted and nothing overstressed, rather quicker than usual tempi at some points, and the orchestra always a strong line of support for the singers rather than merely an accompaniment. Roberta Peters' Gilda was broader, stronger in sound than when it was last heard, but clean and accurate in its
florid detail. Credit also goes to Cornell MacNeil for a robust Rigoletto vocally, and a dramatic effort that comes closer to a characterization than anything else he does. In smaller roles, Raymond Michalski (Monterone), John Macurdy (Sparafucile), and Ruza Pospinov (in her debut, as Maddalena) were above the vocal average.<|b>


Photograph of Alfredo Kraus as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto by Louis Mélançon.



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