[Met Performance] CID:208000
World Premiere

In the presence of the composer
Antony and Cleopatra {1} Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 09/16/1966., Broadcast
 (World Premiere)
(Opening Night {82}
Rudolf Bing, General Manager

Debuts: Bruce Scott, Ron Bottcher, Hope Clarke, Alvin Ailey
Broadcast
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
September 16, 1966 Broadcast

Opening Night {82} of the new Metropolitan Opera House
at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

World Premiere
In the presence of the composer

Rudolf Bing: General Manager


ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA {1}
Barber-Shakespeare/Zeffirelli

Antony..................Justino Díaz
Cleopatra...............Leontyne Price
Caesar..................Jess Thomas
Enobarbus...............Ezio Flagello
Charmian................Rosalind Elias
Iras....................Belén Amparan
Mardian.................Andrea Velis
Messenger...............Paul Franke
Alexas..................Raymond Michalski
Soothsayer..............Lorenzo Alvary
Rustic..................Clifford Harvuot
Octavia.................Mary Ellen Pracht
Maecenas................Russell Christopher
Agrippa.................John Macurdy
Lepidus.................Robert Nagy
Thidias.................Robert Goodloe
Soldier of Caesar.......Gabor Carelli
Eros....................Bruce Scott [Debut]
Dolabella...............Gene Boucher
Canidius................Lloyd Strang
Demetrius...............Norman Giffin
Scarus..................Ron Bottcher [Debut]
Decretas................Louis Sgarro
Captain.................Dan Marek
Guard...................Robert Schmorr
Guard...................Edward Ghazal
Guard...................Norman Scott
Soldier of Antony.......John Trehy
Watchman................Paul De Paola
Watchman................Luis Forero
Sentinel................Peter Sliker
Dance...................Sally Brayley
Dance...................Nira Paaz
Dance...................Rhodie Jorgenson
Dance...................Hope Clarke [Debut]
Dance...................Jan Mickens
Dance...................Lance Westergard

Conductor...............Thomas Schippers

Director................Franco Zeffirelli
Designer................Franco Zeffirelli
Choreographer...........Alvin Ailey [Debut]

Production a gift of the Francis Goelet Foundation

[ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA received eight performances in one season.]

Review and account of performance by Harold Rogers in The Christian Science Monitor

BARBER OPERA LAUNCHED AMID GLITTER

PREMIÈRE INAUGURATES MET'S NEW HOME

In at least one way it was like all opening nights of grand opera in any opera house in the world. The spectacle in the audience ran competition with the spectacle on stage. But there were unique and unforgettable features at the Friday night opening of the Metropolitan Opera. It was a double world première: the new Opera House at Lincoln Center made its debut with a new opera inside. Spectators were dividing their attention three ways - on Samuel Barber's "Antony and Cleopatra," on the stunningly appointed auditorium, and on their elegant selves.

Seated in the center of the state box was Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, flanked on either side by an array of notables including the President of the Philippines and Mrs. Ferdinand E. Marcos; Vice-Chancellor of West Germany and Mrs. Erich Mende; Mayor John V. Lindsay, and Governor Nelson Rockefeller. The First Lady's box also included John D. Rockefeller 3rd, chairman of the board of Lincoln Center; Lauder Greenway, chairman of the board of the Metropolitan Opera; Anthony A. Bliss, president of the Metropolitan Opera Association; and Wallace K. Harrison, architect of the new house.

Mr. Harrison has created a modern structure that purrs with the warmth of tradition. The graceful lines of the curving staircases are just right for displaying people. Gold predominates in the great overlapping circles in the ceiling, around the proscenium, and on the fronts of the scalloped boxes. Additional richness is added by the royal red of the carpets and the plush seats. The chandeliers - in the foyer and in the auditorium - are like fireworks that have been frozen at their most dazzling moment.

This historic event opened with the National Anthem, conducted by Thomas Schippers and sung with unusual conviction by almost everybody.
After appropriate speeches with thank-yous from John D. Rockefeller 3rd and Mr. Bliss, Mr. Barber's new opera began. Franco Zeffirelli, who adapted the libretto from Shakespeare, designed the production and staged it.

Whether in Egypt of in Rome, the Sphinx or the Forum looked as if shrouded in the kind of steel scaffolding we see on buildings getting their faces lifted. These odd structures - a network of perpendicular and vertical lines - move in, out, and around as needed for the many scenes; and in Act II a gigantic Sphinx spins a curious route on the stage, disclosing at one time the love nest of Antony and Cleopatra, at another the slain after Antony loses the battle to Caesar, and still again the scene of Antony's falling on his sword. Thus we have the steely unrealistic settings in anachronistic contrast to Mr. Zeffirelli's superbly realistic costumes. Yet the whole thing adds up to an impressive total - a kind of latter-day "Aida," if you will. (There's even something of a grand march, with Caesar astride a white charger.)

Mr. Barber's score for "Antony and Cleopatra" - like that of his "Vanessa" - is strongly based on the Romantic period. One might label it "Egyptological modern' with a slight American accent; some of the harmonies splay out in open position, typical of the American sound. But his tonal structure is overlaid with the gauze of harps and flutes; the orchestra shimmers with trills and tremolos that make the music pleasant listening, if not always dynamically so. At times tedium was definitely on hand, and one wonders if the score should not have the benefit of the doubt and another hearing when not competing with an occasion. Mr. Barber's melodies sing well; they are gracious to the voice. He was fortunate to have some of the Metropolitan's finest artists to elucidate the beauty of his melodic writing.

In the title roles were Justino Diaz as Antony and Leontyne Price as Cleopatra. Mr. Diaz, a relatively young member of the company has now grown to a stature of full professional excellence. His strong and steady baritone is beautifully handled; his handsome voice is matched by his face and figure. Miss Price had her magnificent moments as the petulant queen. Her soprano has not only an extraordinary range; it is capable of many timbres, silky smooth or rasping harsh, as the mood require. Both she and Mr. Diaz were commendably supported by Rosalind Elias as Charmian and Jess Thomas and Mary Ellen Pracht as Caesar and Octavia. Though the musicians played superbly under Mr. Schippers' heated direction, Mr. Barber's opera will have to wait for a firmer appraisal. Many were hoping that "Antony and Cleopatra" would outshine "Vanessa." To my ears - on first hearing - it did not.


Rebroadcast on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio

Production photos of Antony and Cleopatra by Louis Mélançon/Metropolitan Opera.



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